Adding an extension to your home

There are many reasons why you might wish to consider adding an extension to your home.

Perhaps your family is growing. Maybe you just feel you need more space for leisure or business purposes.  You might also consider it a way of adding value to your property.

Whatever your reasoning, it’s important to do some significant preparatory work in advance.

Reconnaissance

The good news is that building an extension is now much easier than it used to be, at least in terms of planning permission.

Even so, there are some potential issues here that it will be sensible to identify in advance, rather than after you’ve started work!  Long before you consider writing cheques:

  • neighbours’ objections to local councils can be a surprisingly frequently-encountered spanner in the works. So, discuss your plans at the outset with them rather than assume it’s none of their business. Think about things such as whether their views are going to be obstructed or the light in their garden reduced etc.;
  • look objectively at your site.  If your plans involve changing vehicular access or removing significant trees, you may find planning permission complications.  Don’t forget also to be sure that your builders’ vehicles will be able to access the site;
  • check your local area through your local authority, for things such as conservation area status or special building restrictions.  If your building itself is listed, the complications could increase significantly;
  • ask an experienced builder or preferably an architect, for a quick rule-of-thumb feasibility assessment.  You may have to pay for this but it will be worthwhile in terms of helping you formulate your plans. It will also be imperative to have this in order to confirm whether or not you will need planning permission.

Get a builder recommendation

Many builders are excellent but unfortunately, others will be less so.

A good builder can make the building of your extension a routine and even pleasant exercise whilst a bad one can turn the experience into an unmitigated nightmare.

Do whatever it takes to get a recommendation from someone who was previously used a builder for similar work.  Do not even think about using the lowest-cost odd job men approach.

Clarify your finances in advance

Although in most circumstances there is no legal requirement for you to employ an architect, it might be prudent to do so.

That’s because if you have an architect’s design in place, then a builder should be able to give you a reasonably accurate estimate against it.  Try to work with your builders and other potential providers on a fixed-price basis where possible.

Once you have your fully costed outline to hand, add at least 25% to it for contingency purposes.

Finally, assuming you are not funding this from your own cash reserves, use your costed design plan to help obtain your loans or other financial support.

Don’t overlook your property extension insurance

Remember, adding an extension might change the insurance risk profile of your property as well as add to its overall value.

This will need to be communicated to your insurance provider and revised cover put into place to include your extension insurance.

Think about project management

This is a real skill set. Be warned, extension projects don’t spontaneously come to a successful conclusion. Someone has to make it happen.

You may be able to get these services from your builder or possibly architect, though be prepared to pay extra in the latter case for such services.

If you are going to do it yourself, make sure you have read up on the disciplines and know what’s involved.

Project overruns can be cripplingly expensive and lead to legal disputes.  Be sure you know exactly who is in overall charge and who-is-doing-what-when.

Summary

The key to success with an extension is often getting off on the right foot.

Some of the above tips might help you to do so and to bring your project to a successful conclusion.