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.

Kent Messenger Maidstone - West Kent Property - - NEWS -

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. (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

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