Knowing What To Expect When You Are Building An Extension

Some Interesting Figures Regarding Home Improvement Work

Managing your home improvement projects Sainsbury's Home Insurance has found that 31% of those extending their homes opted for extensions to the rear and side of properties over the past 24 months. After that was conservatories which made up 29%, followed by loft extensions, garage conversions and then small offices in your garden.

Often cited as the reason for these extensions is families wanting to spend more quality time together. The best way to this is by extending the kitchen, and this is exactly what has been happening it seems. With bigger, more open plan kitchens, families are able to spend more time together discussing the days events while preparing and doing the cooking, washing up and general entertaining.

Expectations: Before You Start, Are Your Expectations Grounded In Reality?

When planning an extension, there is often a big difference between what you imagine an outcome to be and the final result. The fault of this, of course, is not being having a grounded understanding of what to expect at the very beginning of the process.

Even before boundary lines and specifics are drawn up, you should take some time to consider exactly what it is that you hope the outcome of your extension to be. What will your new extension offer you? Will it be both visually and practical? Will the additional space be completely suitable for your needs. This process is neither that time consuming nor one that demands a financial cost too you. Simply, examine the area, take some measurements and attempt to envisage the outcome. If you are a proficient at drawing, set out a few rough sketches by drawing a representation of the ideal outcome you have pictured in your mind, then discuss the drawing and your expectations in some detail with your partner and decide whether your planned extension is a realistic project to take on. Remember that you do not need to do all the work, a project manager, often your architect could help you a great deal when the work starts.

When it comes to the best possible utilization of space this task should be simple enough - just a few carefully planned measurements, several carefully placed ground stakes and some barrier tape or string will tell you all you need to know. Attempting to do this visually without these markers will be somewhat trickier though, and not something we would recommend you do. Unless you have access to some very expensive graphic design software you will need to use your mind's eye or an artist's rendering to picture how the different types of materials you wish to use will ensure a seamless flow between the original structure and the extension.

In addition, consider just how much your new extension will change the overall design of your home from the outside, particularly whether it will look out of place from all the other houses in your street! The councilors who look after planning permission are far more accepting of alterations which take their surrounding into account. If your planned design is going to look out of place, do not expect your plans to get approval as quickly or easily as plans designed to be sympathetic to the local area. Structures are built to purpose, but that does not mean that your local council will approve them. Consult your local planning officer discuss your ideas with him or her before you commit to continuing any further.

It may all seem like common sense, but too often extensions can be something people rush into. The bottom line, what seems good in your mind doesn't always have a place in reality. If after trying all this you are still unsure about whether your planned extension will meet your expectations, consult an architect. Some architects will offer free preliminary advice to help you bridge the gap between expectation and reality.

Preparing and Planning Stages

Extensions; Be Prepared - Plan In Stages

Preparing for your extension can be a stressful and perhaps even daunting task. The list of things to cover can be extensive; which makes it even more prudent that you tackle each requirement in a carefully planned order. This should help ensure that you are completely satisfied with the final result.

Start by understanding the limitations of your budget. Consider how far it can stretch and make attempts to realistically assess what you will achieve with it. Most people recommend categorizing your budget between individual expenses. You will be able to get quotes from most architects or building companies - take advantage of any free, no obligation quote opportunity as it will allow you to see the breadth of different routes available to you.

You should also be prepared that works might go over-budget. Do not begin an extension without having some degree of back-up funds available, alternatively agree a fixed price job with your tradesman before you start and get that in writing. All types of extensions can be met by obstacles along the way, even obstacles that are unforeseen by the builders or architect. You do not want to risk having to make side-steps once the project has begun, as they will ultimately compromise the end result.

Of course, these are still the very early stages of your extension’s construction. After you are satisfied with the strength and veracity of your budget, it’s time to look to building permission. You can find general guidelines online. These guidelines should help you determine whether you will need planning permission for the particular extension you want to build. However it must be stressed that these are only guidelines, they are usually quite specific and you cannot encompass all types of extensions under one set of rules. Should you be left looking for further guidance, take any measurements you can, coupled with photographic representation of your property, and consult your local building authority. There have been many legal changes during the past few years so it is best to check everything you plan to do before you start.

So,  what does your local building authority do? Each local authority building control section has a duty to ensure that building works comply with building regulations, except where the work is undertaken by an approved inspector. You are able to create and submit your building application online too in case you were not aware. To find out more about Building Regulations or  the Local Authority Building Control which runs an online use the following links. UK Planning Portal run by the Government & LABC

If you are applying for building approval through the local authority building control services, you may be required to submit a full plans application or give a building notice, depending on the scale of the work you intend to undertake.

Your application could take a number of months to be finalised, so don’t delay if you are ready to proceed with your application. While you are waiting it is advisable to consider the dates you plan for the building works to take place. Two good reasons come to mind, the first is our great British weather and the second is to give you enough time to discuss your building plans with your neighbours. The last thing you want is for them to block or oppose the planned extension to your home.

If you address your neighbours’ concerns in good time, and let them know the expected time-line for building work to take place, they will likely be more amicable when work eventually does start! Remember building an extension is often far more noisy and dusty construction.

Price Space and Time

Extensions - Price Is Reliant On More Than Just Square Footage

The term ‘extension’ is used to account for a multitude of things, with the basic premise that it constitutes adding to the original structure of a property. The difficulty for most people, however, is in knowing which type of extension to opt for, their pros and cons and in understanding the great differences in pricing between different extension types.

It is not always a directly proportionate affair either. (i.e. the cost of adding 50 square meters to in a loft extension varies greatly from that of a single floor garage extension consisting of the same area). Begin by deciding what your needs are, how much space you require and what the extension will be used for. These concerns are particularly important when it comes to deciding between a two-story home extension vs. a single-story one. Two-story construction should work out to be slightly cheaper than one-story extension if you work on a set square footage of space. Here is why, two of the most expensive parts of a house are the roof and the homes foundation. A two-story home with the same square footage as a one-story has lower roofing costs and lower foundation costs. You also gain advantages with plumbing a second floor by tapping into the existing plumbing and electrical feeds.

There are as always other considerations to consider. A builder does not base his quote on square meterage costs alone. Your builder will need to take in to account the level of finish you request, for instance pine floor boards vs. oak floors, chrome light fittings vs. the usual white plastic fittings and whether you plan to have in build cupboards or none at all. Remember, should you opt for a basic finish over a fully fitted finish you will need to find the time during your busy work schedule to complete the works yourself and time is money as they say. Saving a few hundred or even a few thousand pounds could end up leaving you with an unfinished project until you are able to find the time to finish the work yourself.

There are also economies in plumbing and heating in two stories. Two-story extensions have their appeal but do not make the decision without considering all the implications. For an ordinary housing structure, situated amongst an estate of houses, two-story extensions present a bigger issue when acquiring building permission.

Additionally, you have to consider where the space is being taken away from. You either lose valuable garden space at the back or at the side of the property. You then run the risk of giving an end terraced property a ‘squeezed’ appearance. If, however, you have plenty of land room to make these changes, and the budget allows for it, then a two-story extension is a great and very practical way to really feel like you are making a big change to your living space.

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