Making your house bigger and better
Just be careful! Househunters with an eye for a bargain are always on the look out for a home that can be easily extended. Julia Gray has some tips on exactly what to look out for.
While you might want to decorate an extension yourself, you probably won’t want to build it. You could get an architect to design it and then a builder to build it, or get the architect to manage the project (they’ll usually charge a percentage of the building costs for doing this) and the contractors. They’ll have tradesmen that they regularly use, so you’ll have less to do and worry about. As well as time to build the shell, you’ll need to factor in fitting-out time. A kitchen will take longer than other rooms and will also, of course, be more expensive. Like any other big homeimprovement project, an extension can easily go over budget, so keep a careful eye on the numbers and always have a contingency fund for unexpected problems.
An extension is a great way to make your home bigger and better, as long as you don’t make your garden too small in the process. While building an extension will cost tens of thousands of pounds and take many weeks, it’s often easier to do when you first buy a property and a surefire way of adding value to any home. Depending on the home’s layout and as long as the new layout complies with building regulations, a single-storey extension can be turned into pretty much any sort of room or rooms, typically a kitchendiner, especially in a side return, but also an extra living area, a den, a home office or even a ground-floor bedroom and en suite, perfect as a granny or nanny annexe. If you can run to a two-storey extension, you’ll be able to increase both the living and sleeping space, or add a dressing room or extra bathroom upstairs, whatever you need. Instead of applying for planning permission, the easiest option is to make use of the house’s permitted development rights. If it doesn’t have these rights, or you want an extension that can’t be done under permitted development, you’ll have to go through the planning process, which can be lengthy, expensive and frustrating. To be done under permitted development, an extension must conform to certain conditions. You’ll find full details at www.planningportal. gov.uk (the information applies to houses, not flats, maisonettes or other buildings), but one of the main conditions is that extensions and other buildings shouldn’t account for more than 50% of the land around the original house. There are also constraints on the width and height of extensions. For example, the width of a side extension mustn’t be more than half the width of the original house. There are different rules for single and two-storey extensions and for back and side ones (for example, side extensions on designated land, which includes conservation areas, are not permitted development), so it can be quite complicated. The only way to be sure which rules apply is to ask your local council. If the extension will be along a shared boundary with a neighbour, you’ll need a party wall agreement with them to comply with the Party Wall Act, which, again, can be a long, expensive and frustrating process if there’s any dispute. As well as special conditions for designated land, there are different rules for listed buildings. If the home you are considering is in one of these, you’ll have to apply for listed building consent from your local council before building an extension. The council’s building control department will need to inspect your extension (for which they’ll charge a set fee) as it’s built, to ensure that it complies with building regulations. You’ll also need a completion certificate from them when the work’s done, which the buyer’s solicitor may ask for when you sell your home.
An extension is a surefire way of adding value to any home