Top tips to consider when planning a home extension

Posted on July 13, 2012 by Guest Writer
Planning a home extension - drawing tools on a house blueprint

There are so many reasons to upgrade your house with a home extension, from adding a downstairs bathroom or bedroom, to creating a playroom for when your family visits or adding a conservatory perfect for relaxing and socialising in summer. Adding to your property is a huge decision, however, and there are plenty of things to take into consideration before laying the first stone.

1. Think about your budget

Establishing your budget should be the first thing you do – sit down and decide not only how much you want to spend but how much reserve budget you have just in case extra purchases are required.

Don’t forget to include payments for professionals such as architects or surveyors and the costs of any planning application. Also most quotes you receive will exclude VAT, so don’t forget to add this on if need be – to be safe, add 20% on.

2. Future-proofing

Check whether your design fits with the current theme of the house and avoid going too trendy. If you get an extension that has a design that is very much ‘of the moment,’ it might look fantastic for a year or so, but once that fad disappears you’ll be stuck with it. This could make it difficult when it comes to selling the house, potentially knocking down the value of the property or making would-be buyers turn it down.

What’s more, it is important to take into account the theme of the neighbourhood as well as the house. If you live in a quaint, traditional street, then a gaudy addition to your house is unlikely to go down well with the others living there. Make sure the extension on your property is in fitting with the rest of the street – the neighbours will be much happier and it should add plenty of value to your house.

3. Plan your timescale

Extending your home takes time, aside from the physical build time required, just getting planning permission and building regulations approval can take months.

You should also consider the time of year and factor in things like holidays, events and other occasions when you will want full use of your house. It’s also important to think about these things when it comes to your builders, architects and planning officers as the holiday seasons will invariably impact on their availability.

4. Are you in a conservation area?

You will need to check with your council whether your home is in a designated conservation area or is a listed building as there may be very strict controls governing what alterations you can and cannot make.

5. Think about hiring an architect

Home extensions and significant improvement projects are not simple DIY jobs, and it is likely you will need the services of an expert, in fact part of the planning application might require to include plans produced by a qualified architect or a structural engineer.

Moreover, professionals can support you through the entire process and advise on every element of the project.

Planning a home extension

6. Location, location

You need to decide fairly early on where you want to build your extension. The most common option for creating extra floor space is an extension built on the side or to the rear of your house. Loft conversions are also increasingly popular – so if you have the option of converting your attic space into a new room it’s definitely worth considering as there will be little or no exterior work required.

7. Get planning permission

It is essential to secure any necessary planning permission before you start work on project.

You can apply for planning permission online using the government’s Planning Portal – make sure you have digital copies of all relevant documents and plans to hand as these will be required during the application.

If you neglect getting the right planning permission the council has the right to demolish the building. If you go on to sell the property, potential buyers could be put off if the correct documents aren’t available as the burden of responsibility would fall on them.

8. Hire good builders

Unless you’re a builder, it is likely that you will need to get a building firm to do the work.

Word of mouth and recommendations are often the best indicator of a quality tradesman – if you’re using the services of an architect or engineer they’re likely to have a few contacts. Make sure you have a look at their previous work if you can before taking the plunge.

9. Think about your neighbours

When workmen show up at your house armed with drills and ladders, most of your neighbours will be envisioning inconveniences like being woke up on Sunday mornings by construction noises. Therefore, they might not feel as excited about your new extension as you do.

However, if you make an effort to warn them ahead of time, filling them in on details like what you’re getting done to the house and why, and, more importantly, what sort of disruption they can expect. Filling them in on the hours work will be done on the house, and how long it’s likely to last, will make them feel much better about the whole process. If you’re getting a new conservatory, why not invite the neighbours round for a get together and show it off once it’s completed?

If at all possible, it’s a good idea to minimise disruption by ensuring work only takes place during standard 9-5 office hours, so that the noise will inconvenience people as little as possible.

10. Inform your insurance provider

Acquiring a house extension will change your home insurance when it comes to building cover, with the house now being worth more than it was before – and therefore costing more to rebuild should something go wrong. It is essential that you declare any changes to your insurer; if something did go wrong not declaring everything could potentially void your policy, meaning you would not get the compensation you need.