Building Extensions is just one of our specialties. In line with that, we thought we would compile a list of the best little bits of advice that are often overlooked or unknown to people considering having an extension built.
Here is part one of a two-part article on things to look for before building starts.
Extend or …….?
Creating new space in your property is often and exciting prospect. As well as adding an extra room or two to your house, there is an element to building an extension should be a financial decision. Have a look at the property values in your area, especially ones that have a similar footprint to the one you are proposing. A rule of thumb should be that the value added to the property is greater than the cost of the project. Even if it is a relatively small amount. It may be a better financial decision to knock down the existing property and start again, equally, selling the property and moving into something that is more suited to your needs may be the best option.
The same applied doubly when extending above an existing extension,
Start thinking about a builder and an architect.
See our previous article about how to choose a good builder. If you follow the steps there, you should not go wrong. As an extra point look for builders who have done what you want done previously and arrange to see examples of their work, with or without the builder there. A good builder will never have an issue with this. This is the one thing that few people do and really should.
Finding an architect is very similar. Ask around, look to see who has done work similar to what you want. If you happen to choose a builder first, the chances are very good they will have an architect or two they work with, so ask to be put in touch.
Even if you do not need planning permission for your house extension (because you are using permitted development rights), you must get building regulation approval.
The Building Regulations set out minimum requirements for structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, damp proofing, ventilation and other key aspects that ensure a building is safe.
If you are having any steelwork put into the property, there is a very high chance you will need some structural calculations drawing up as well. Often, but not always, your architect can do these for you, or help you find someone who can.
…and Building Control.
Before any works begin, you will need to submit either a building notice or a full plans application to building control. A building notice is a high-risk situation and we recommend you do not do it. In essence it is starting the build without the protection of having your full plans authorised. This means that should the plans come back any different to how you submitted them, you will be liable for the cost of the changes required. Our best advice is don’t do this. Wait for the full plans to go through before starting any work.
And finally for part 1…
Beware conservation areas pitfalls.
Permitted Development rights are highly restricted in conservation areas. Each local authority has its own policy for areas like this, but generally the basis of the policy is to prevent the loss of character of the area. Talk at length to your architect about how you can achieve what you want, whilst maintaining the spirit of the locality. Be mindful that even the best plans submitted for conservation areas can often come back requiring certain changes. Be aware that this could add more time to the plans being accepted.
See part two for more hints, tips and advice when getting ready to build your extension.