With a slow housing market that doesn’t show any signs of picking up soon, many people are opting to stay put and extend their existing home, rather than move. This may seem like a great idea and a good way to save both money and time, but before you jump in, there are a few things you need to consider. Here’s what you need to know before heading off towards your new house extension.
This is probably one of the most fundamental questions, and the first thing you should ask yourself. So before you do anything, sit down and decide exactly how much you have to spend. Don’t forget to include extras such as your architect’s fees and the costs of your planning application if necessary. Once you’ve given yourself a budget, stick to it.
What are you looking to achieve with this extension?
Are you looking for a new living area that the whole family can enjoy, an extra bedroom for a new arrival or a home office? What you want to use your extension for and what you want to do in it will determine what kind of alteration you make to your home.
How long will it take, and do you have that kind of time?
House extensions don’t happen overnight; and even getting planning permission and building regulations approval can sometimes take months. So be patient, and expect some upheaval and interruption to normal family life while the building is going on. You may want to consider the time of year, factor in things like holidays, family events and other occasions for which you will want full use of your house without the builders being in. Once you do decide the best time window for you property extension to be built, the secret is to plan it ahead as far as possible.
Do you need to get permission?
For some property alterations such as loft conversions and single storey extensions, or certain types of sun rooms, you may not need planning permission. But you are well advised to check all local planning regulations and requirements first before making any definite plans to proceed. Check with your local planning officer for more information.
Will you need an architect?
Big projects such as loft conversions or external home extensions are not simple DIY jobs, and they can go very wrong. You will need the services of an expert if you are planning on making major alterations to your property, and in fact part of the planning application may have to include plans produced by a qualified architect and other consultants such as structural engineers. You will need to factor in the cost of an architect and, if required, an engineer, to your overall budget.
Will the design impact the neighbors?
This is a particularly important consideration, especially if you are making major alterations to your property. Do you share a party wall with your neighbors, and will your alterations potentially damage their property? There is also the social aspect; your plans may impact on their quality of life during the construction period, so it’s wise to keep your neighbours fully informed of your intentions right from the start.
Which way will the home be extended out to?
Where you put your house extension is the next decision. Loft conversions are increasingly popular; so if you have the option of converting your attic space into a new room without any external signs of extending the property it’s definitely worth considering. The most common option for simply gaining extra space either is either a single storey or two storey extension, for which you may want to build out to the side of your home.
Do you know any good contractors?
Unless you’re an experienced builder yourself, the likelihood is that you will need to get a professional building firm in to do the work, even if it’s a smaller job like a loft conversion. Choose wisely, and take note of the recommendations of friends who have had work done on their properties, or see if your architect can provide contacts.
Set yourself a strict timetable for completion. The chances are that it will over-run, but if you lay down the ground rules for completion at the very start of the project you can avoid living on a building site for months on end.