Quality Home Extensions in North London
More and more homeowners are choosing to extend their home, but it can be difficult to know where to start. So, we’ve put together a simple guide to help you plan the perfect home extension project. First, some key questions you need to ask: Is my property suitable for an extension? You should consider the size, location, age and free space around your property when assessing whether your property is suitable. Properties that are listed or in a protected position may not be able to gain permission for any changes so you should always check with your local authority for any special regulations in your area. A good builder or architect will be able to provide you with the best advice on the suitability of your home. Do I need a specialist company or architect? Although it may be tempting to try to plan and organise a home extension yourself – bear in mind that this is a complex process and that it can be extremely difficult and stressful to undertake and coordinate a large building project. You will get the best results by using an architect and/or structural engineer to draw up the plans, and using a builder with experience in creating home extensions. The architect will normally draw up plans for the building and the structural engineer deals with scientific and mathematical aspects of ensuring the building is structurally sound. Architects and structural engineers often work together within the same organisation or may subcontract work to each other. Look for qualified and experienced professionals, and when it comes to your builder, check that they are registered with a professional association such as the Federation of Master Builders which requires strict standards of quality and best practice. Full service builders can provide you with a complete solution from design and planning through to building, electrical work, plumbing and decorating – which can reduce the stress of finding individual contractors to complete each part of the project. What else do you need to know? Here’s a checklist for planning your home extension to help you get started: Home extension checklist 1. What do you need to budget for? Consider what you can afford, and don’t forget to build in the cost of fixtures and fittings which are easily overlooked. Make sure you get like-for-like quotes from builders and that all aspects of the build and finishing are covered. It’s always sensible to allow a contingency for any changes of plan as the build progresses. 2. How will you finance the extension? If you don’t have the capital to pay for your build upfront, consider the finance options carefully. Although you may get a lower interest rate on an extension to your existing mortgage, bear in mind that by spreading out the repayments over a longer period you may pay more overall than you would if you took out a personal loan. The key thing is to shop around and make
use of price comparison sites or an Independent Financial Advisor to get the best deal available. 3. Do you need planning permission? You are permitted to undertake certain developments to your property without seeking planning permission under ‘Permitted Development Rights’ legislation (2008), although it’s always best to check with your local authority as the complex criteria apply. Remember, if your building is protected or is located in a protected area you may be subject to additional regulations. Some home extensions will require planning permission, and this means drawing up detailed plans via an architect or your builder and submitting these for approval by your local authority or online through the government planning portal. It’s important to consider the local area and attitudes to planning matters when preparing your planning application. The look of the extension, precedents at other properties, the impact on the environment, neighbours and the community are all factors that may be taken into account by planning authorities, so work with your builder or architect to make sure you have a robust application.
4. What about building regulations? All new building projects need to comply with building regulations – these determine the legal requirements for the safety of newly built structures. A good builder will be fully conversant with these and will be able to arrange the necessary approvals.
5. Do you need to inform the neighbours? If you share a wall or boundary with a neighbouring property you may need to inform your neighbours and gain their written consent before starting work. The Party Wall Act (1996) covers building work that affects or is near neighbouring properties and so you may need to write to your neighbours informing them of your proposed plans. It’s best to be sensitive to the impact of your project on your neighbours and keep them informed and consulted on your proposed changes from an early stage.
6. How do you choose a builder? Making sure your builder is accredited and insured is vital. Check whether your builder is a member of the Federation of Master Builders or other professional association, and ask to see their insurance documents so you know you are covered should something go wrong. It’s also a good idea to see examples of the company’s previous work and to ask them for any client testimonials or recommendations to back up their credentials. A good builder, confident in their work, will always be happy to provide you with the reassurance you need. For more information on choosing a good builder watch our video guide here.
7. Will you work with a single contractor or organise separate tradesmen for each job? Extending your home can be a stressful undertaking if you are managing the process yourself and trying to coordinate multiple tradesmen with conflicting needs and schedules. Working with a specialist company can remove this stress as they are likely to cover all the trades – building, decorating, carpentry, plumbing, electrics etc.