Wishing you had more space in your home, but don’t fancy the hassle of selling up and moving? If you have the space, funds and inclination, the next best thing could be an extension. If improving, rather than moving, sounds appealing, then here’s our essential guide to planning a house extension.
What type of extension could you have?
First things first, you’ll need to give careful thought to the extra room you’d like.
Have you got space to convert a garage into an extended living room? Have you got a loft that could be converted into a new bedroom and en-suite bathroom? Is there space in your garden to add on a conservatory, or space at the side to build a one-storey or even two-storey extension?
Think about how you’d like the space to function and what type of design and style you’d like it be. You may find it useful to put together an ideas or mood board, to help you visualize the possibilities better, both in terms of the structure of the extension and the type of styling you’d like inside when it’s complete.
Set a budget
Before you get too far in dreaming about your perfect home extension, take some time to ensure you really do have suitable funds available. Although it’s hard to set a definite figure until you’ve got a quote from a builder, now’s the chance to make sure you have got the funds available and that it’s a realistic option.
As well as the cost of the building, they’ll be fees to pay your architect, planning costs, VAT and building control, so don’t forget to factor all of these in to your costings.
Hire an architect
Architects are specialists in design, so to ensure you end up with the right extension for you, it’s best to use an architect to draw up your designs. Even if you already have an idea of what you’d like, you may well find that an architect comes up with even more ideas and options – their creative and impartial input and advice as to what you could realistically achieve can be highly valuable.
Architects don’t just draw plans. If you want them to, they can be involved in managing the building process too, from obtaining planning permission, to ensuring building regulations are met and monitoring the construction process.
Organisations such as RIBA can help you find a reputable architect. Just type your postcode into the search box on their website to begin your hunt for an architect.
Obtain planning permission
Depending on the type of work you’re having done on your house, and whether or not you’re adapting an existing part of the building, you may need to obtain planning permission first.
Your architect will be able to advise as to whether you need to get planning permission and can help you go through the process of submitting plans for the work. Sometimes getting permission can take time, and you may need to amend your original plans slightly. But the wait is worth it to help make your building dreams a reality.
Find a builder
Finding the right builder for your extension project is crucial. You’ll want someone who’s reliable, recommended, skilled and who you get on with, as the chances are they’ll be working in and around your home for some time.
Personal recommendations are always good to have, but if you don’t know anyone who’s had building work completed recently, you could always ask your architect. Or you could search online for builders in your area who specialise in the type of extension you want, using search terms such as kitchen extensions London to narrow down your findings.
Another really useful source to look at is Checkatrade, where you can search for reputable tradesmen throughout the UK. It’s free to use and it’s reassuring to know that tradespeople listed have undergone background checks and that the feedback on the site is from actual people who’ve hired them. Contact a few builders to get quotes and ask to see examples of previous work they’ve completed.
If you’re having uPVC windows, doors or a conservatory installed as part of your extension, then you’ll want a qualified and reputable installer to carry out that part of the work for you. Network VEKA can put you in touch with your local installer.
Top tips to get you through your extension build
Having an extension completed can be hard work, so to help you through the weeks or months of disruption, here some top extension survival tips!
1. Be realistic with your schedule
It’s always good to have a building schedule, especially so you can be aware of when a build will start and finish. But even the best laid plans can go awry, and that’s certainly the case where an extension is concerned. Essential components might be out of stock, deliveries don’t always turn up on time or your builder may be ill. So take into consideration that your schedule may need to be flexible and don’t get stressed if tiny changes to plans have to be made.
2. Have a contingency budget available
You may have planned everything to a tee and sourced items and builders carefully, but you never know what hidden costs can occur or what issues the build might run into.
It’s highly advisable, and great for your peace of mind, to have extra money available to use as a contingency fund if you require it. As a rough guide, aim for around 10% extra. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to touch it, but if you need it, it’s reassuring to know it’s available.
3. Stick to your plans
You’ve gone to all the trouble of submitting plans and having them accepted, so don’t start changing your mind about the big issues when the build gets underway, as it will only slow the process even more. Little details, such as internal finishes or fittings are more flexible, but try and be decisive.
4. Communicate with your builders
Keep communicating with your builders throughout the project, whether you’re project managing it yourself or just keeping an eager eye on things. It helps to know what progress they’re making and what to expect next, plus being on good friendly terms helps boost morale.
Are you planning on having work done to improve your home? Get more ideas and inspiration for your new home extension over at Pinterest, in the board Exquisite Extensions and How to Plan Your Own.
(Second and third images courtesy of Shutterstock)
(Disclosure: This is a collaborative post)2