Has your property got the potential to extend?

If your home is on a small plot, or if you live in a listed property or a conservation area, you might be restricted in what changes you can do.

Having a chat with your local planning authority or an authorised planning consultant may save you some time before you spend money on things like architect fees.

Will an extension increase the value of your home?

Creating more space will usually increase the value of your home. But properties in an area generally have a ceiling price – go above this and you may not recoup your investment if you move in the future.

Who will manage it for you?

Do you plan to manage the project yourself or pay someone to do it for you? A project manager might cost you £100+ an hour but will have the experience of planning law, building regulations, dealing with builders and keeping a project on time and to budget.

Make a realistic budget

Think of your budget – then add 10-20% extra. Always include a contingency fund as projects rarely go to plan and costs are likely to be higher than planned.

Employing a designer

Who is going to design your new space? Ideally, look for someone who listens to your needs and has experience of your type of project. They should also be qualified members of a professional organisation such as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists. Whoever you choose, always make sure they have enough professional indemnity insurance if things go wrong.

Should you employ someone?

Are you planning to do the work yourself? Extending your home can be hugely complex so you’ll probably need a competent builder. Choosing the right one can mean the success or failure of your project. There are lots of things consider – from their experience on your type of project to how they expect to be paid – but looking for one that is a member of the Federation of Master Builders and is TrustMark approved will be a good starting point.

Where do I find competent professionals?

Try to get a recommendation for a builder and ask for references – seeing their past projects and being able to ask questions about how they work could provide some very useful pointers for your project. If you don’t have any recommendations, look on Plentific’s ‘Find A Pro‘ section and read reviews on the builders that feature on the site to find a good one in your area.

Check you’re covered

Check that your insurance and mortgage companies are OK with your planned project – you might need to get permission before work starts.

Do you need planning permission?

You might not need planning permission for a small alteration such as an Orangerie but it is useful to have some understanding of the planning process. Visit Planning Portal or consult with a professional architect designer to help you see what’s possible. If you do the work without getting planning permission, you may have to demolish your finished project!

Do you need approval?

Even if your project doesn’t need planning permission, most house extensions will require Building Regulations approval. This is a complex area of health and safety to make sure minimum design and construction standards are met. The Regulations cover everything from structural safety and sound to drainage and energy efficiency, so consider getting advice early on. Always make sure you get a Completion Certificate at the end of the project to confirm the work has been inspected and completed to Building Regulations – this could save a lot of hassle if you ever decide to sell up.

Ask your neighbours

It might sound odd but you may need to ask your neighbours for permission for your project to go ahead. Party walls legislation doesn’t sound very exciting but if your project might affect neighbouring buildings, your neighbours need to be asked for approval before you start!

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