So, you’ve picked your architect, builder and maybe even your kitchen and/or bathroom out but before you do anything else, read on for part two of our advice for having an extension built.
Where to Stay When Work Starts.
You house, your family home is about to become a building site. It’s going to be noisy, dusty and occasionally unbearable. It is possible to maintain normal life and stay in your property whilst works are ongoing, but it’s not easy. If you live away from site, at friends, family or even at a hotel you’ll experience none of the upheaval, the noise and the mess and it is our experience that completing an extension with owners not on site, the work tends to get finished at least a week sooner. It’s certainly worth considering.
However, moving away for 3 months isn’t always viable for people. With that in mind, when planning your extension, it might be wise to factor in a holiday, or even a short break away. Even with the best builder doing the work, at some point you are going to get fed up of the noise and mess. A bit of time away to recharge and refresh, especially at some of the messier times will certainly be money and time well spent.
Got any Trees?
If you have any trees in your garden, you may well need to get them checked out before building work starts. They could be subject to what is known as a TPO or Tree Protection Order. You cannot alter or remove any tree subject to a TPO under threat of substantial fines and prosecution. All trees within a Conservation Area are protected by legislation and effectively have a TPO on them providing they have a trunk of diameter greater than 75mm.
If in doubt, get it checked out, it’s an easy one to miss with potential severe repercussions.
The Party Wall Act etc 1996
While your neighbours cannot stop you building to the boundary of your property, with the right planning permissions and no covenants, if you build and it connects up to their property, land or buildings, you will be subject to the Party Wall Act. This is a piece of legislation put into place to formalise arrangements with your neighbour, whilst also protecting the interest of all parties concerned. If your extension involves building or digging foundations within 3m of the boundary, party wall or party wall structure, or digging foundations within 6m of a boundary, the work will require you to comply with the Party Wall Act. In these cases, you may need a surveyor to act on your behalf.
Will Your Boiler Take the Strain?
If your extension is of a significant size, or is adding multiple bathrooms and radiators, you might need to make sure your boiler is going to be up to the challenge ahead. If in any doubt ask a plumber to help you work out some effective heating forecasts to ensure your newly extended home stays nice and snug.
This also applies to your RCD board. If you are having new electrics in the extension, you may require a new RCD board. Again, it’s a quick conversation with an electrician to find out if your existing board will be able up to the job once the new factors are in play.
You Never Said Anything About Extras!
You’ve got your quote from your builder and you’ve accepted it. That’s it right, that’s how much it costs?
In an ideal world, the answer is yes, but in reality, that’s rarely the case.
Part of your budget, a good part, should be put aside as a contingency against unexpected costs. Between 10 and 20% is the recommended amount. Unfortunately, not all homes are created equal, some are simply built better than others, some are newer than others, some just need a bit more work than others. A good contingency fund allows any issues that crop up not to be too much of an issue, although always get your builder to explain exactly why there is an extra cost incurred, what options you have and how much that extra cost will be upfront, before you authorise it.
And that’s it. If you bear all of the above points in mind when planning for your extension, you might just find yourself informed about the best way to go about things, and perhaps more importantly, what pitfalls there are to look out for.
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.
Choosing a builder can be a stressful experience. During large projects, such as extensions, you might end up seeing your builder as often or even more often than your own partner, significant other or children.
That means when it comes to crunch time and you have to decide, you need to get it right.
Here’s our top 7 tips for choosing a builder for your next project.
1. Meet with a few builders and arrange for them all to supply you with a quote.
2. Are they listening to your needs? It’s no good having a builder who just does the standard, or does their own thing.
3. Do they know what they are talking about? Does the person you are meeting with inspire you with confidence?
4. Are they busy? If you want to commission a good builder, expect to have to wait. Good builders are in demand, bad ones aren’t.
5. Can you go and see other examples of their work? Don’t just believe what you see in adverts and social media, it’s always wise to go and look at workmanship in person and talk to people who have had work completed by the builder.
6. Do they want a lot of the money upfront? This is a massive warning sign, if a builder wants half the money or more upfront, alarm bells should be ringing.
7. Trust your instincts. Too many times we go to fix other builder’s jobs where we hear a customer say ‘I knew I should have listened to myself when I thought something was off.’
And that’s it. Our top 7 pieces of advice for finding yourself a good builder. If you follow these points, you should end up with a good builder who does a fantastic job for you.
It goes without saying that here at PJB Project Builders, we tick all of the boxes above.