What to Consider when Extending your Home

extending your homeExtending Your Home

Extending your home can be an exciting opportunity to increase living space and better utilise your property. It can also be a significant project that is lengthy and costly. Whether you are looking to add value to your property or to create a better functioning space to suit your needs, there are a variety of factors that you should consider.

Budget – What Can You Afford?

Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend on the extension and include a contingency for unexpected events occurring. For example, if you uncover issues such as damp or dry rot then these will need to be remedied before work continues.

You may also need site insurance to cover the building works, and may need to update your home insurance to ensure the alterations are covered. Always chat to your existing insurer before starting works to find out what is covered and if you need additional cover.

Things to budget for may include:

  • Architectural design services to draw up plans for the new design
  • Planning permission application fee
  • Site insurance
  • Building materials
  • Labour
  • Interior decorations and furnishings
  • Contingency for unexpected occurrences

Lifestyle Factors – What is the Space For?

Before starting designs for extending your home, take time to think through what you need the additional space for and how it will work with your lifestyle. Home extensions can add real value to your property as well as your life, but this is not guaranteed.

If your budget or space is tight, you may find that you can satisfy your needs by doing smaller interior alterations instead, such as knocking down walls to create a more open-plan living area. However, it is important to seek professional advice about whether the walls are load bearing or not, as load bearing walls will require reinforcement if they are to be removed.

Limitations – Size and Shape of Your Plot

When dreaming of a bigger house, you need to be realistic about the size of your existing plot and its potential.

  • Is it feasible to extend the house out onto some of the garden?
  • Do you have an existing single storey section that you could build a second storey on top of?
  • Perhaps it would be better to convert the loft space.

An extension will increase the footprint of your house without taking away any of the existing internal space; however, it will also reduce your outdoor area. If this is a concern then a loft conversion may provide a suitable option, particularly if you’re looking to add a new bedroom and en suite bathroom. Loft conversions are a popular option with over a million homes in the UK including such a renovation.

Restrictions & Planning Permission

Before creating designs it is important to find out if your alterations will be covered by permitted development or if you will need planning permission for the changes. Typically minor alterations will not require planning permission – the government’s Planning Portal website is a good place to look for information on whether you’re likely to need permission for your extension.

If you do require planning permission, make sure you consider any requirements that you must abide by, such as:

  • Is your property a listed building or do you live in a Conservation Area; if so, greater restrictions will apply to how/what you are allowed to alter.
  • Does your local council have clear preferences about what they will and won’t approve? If you are unsure then it can be worthwhile chatting to your local planning officer before drawing up your designs to get a feel for what they are likely to approve.
  • What will the impact of the extension be to your neighbours – are they likely to object to your plans?
  • Are there any relevant Building Regulations that you must abide by? Building Regulations ensure properties are structurally sound, protected from fire risks, have adequate ventilation and a variety of other factors. You may need to gain official sign off from a Building Control Officer and should obtain a Completion Certificate once the work has finished, which will be important to show if you sell the property in the future.

If your home extension requires planning permission then you must wait until your plans are approved before commencing work. If your plans are rejected then you have the right of appeal; however, if you start the work without approval then you can be served with an ‘enforcement notice’ requiring you to knock down the work and restore it to how it was originally.

Costs vs Impact/Return – Is it Worth it?

Take time to consider the cost of extending your home and whether it will increase the value of your property. Extensions can cost upwards of £1000 per square metre and will not necessarily increase the value of your home more than the cost of the extension.

Also consider the impact to your lifestyle whilst the work is taking place. Will you need to live in the property whilst the work is being done? How long is the work likely to take? Having building work done can be very stressful so consider whether any potential negative impacts on your lifestyle outweigh the positive benefits of the new space.

Think through whether the financial, emotional and lifestyle costs of extending your home are worth it for you. If not, would a smaller renovation (exterior or interior) suit your needs adequately? Would it be better to move home instead to find somewhere that already suits your needs?

Discussing Your Options – Contact Lawrence & Taylor Chartered Surveyors

If you’re considering extending your home or would like to understand how you could renovate your home to better suit your needs, contact us on 01892 652213 to find out how we can help.

Please note: this information is intended for general information purposes and should not be seen as professional advice. It is important to talk directly to an RICS accredited Building Surveyor and/or Architectural Designer to discuss your individual circumstances.