10 things you need to consider before extending your home

3. Who will do your designs?

The obvious, and most recommend, option would be that get a registered Architect to design your extension. However, there is no law that says you have to go down this route. Some people get a contractor to draw their designs, or you could even do them yourself.

So why choose a registered architect? For starters, it means you and your home have much better protection from bad practises. Unlike contractors, architects are held to a statutory code of practise by the Architects Registration Board [ARB], and undertake years of training before being allowed to produce designs. Not only that, they’re able to act as your planning agents, meaning you have a much better chance of securing planning approval. It might seem like one more fee, but an experienced architect can save you a lot of money and headaches down the line!

You can check if someone is registered with the ARB here.

4. Timescales

House extensions and renovations can be time consuming. There are a lot of stages involved like planning and building control, and each one can take many weeks.

For example, if you are ready to submit a planning application in November, but you need a Bat Survey, you will have to wait approximately 5 months as Bat Surveys are only done between May and September. An experience architect will tell you all the consultants and reports you will need and the time it takes for each report. So, you will be aware of the timescales since Day 1.

5. Permitted Development

Permitted development rights were created by the Government to allow homeowners to extend their home, without the need for planning permission, as long as said development complies to a strict set of guidelines. These rights do not extend to all homes. For example, Listed Buildings do not have permitted development rights. Nor do some homes that are located in conservation areas.

Having permitted development rights makes the planning process a lot easier. Though you don’t have to apply for a Planning Approval, you will need to get a Lawful Development Certificate, in order to prove your build was done legally to future buyers. Not having to worry about planning rejection will also mean you won’t have to worry about repeated application and revision fees.

6. Party Wall

Your neighbours could play a big part in your projects success, if you share what is known as a ‘party wall’. In a few words, a party wall is any wall, boundary, or structure that separates yours and your neighbour’s land/property. If you plan on building on, or next to, this party wall, you’ll be required to come to a ‘party wall agreement’ with the person next door.

Your neighbour could give consent straight away, or you could be looking at a lengthy (and costly) legal process. Therefore, we always advise our clients to discuss their proposed scheme with their neighbours early in the process.

7. Do it Yourself

The right professional can save you time and money, however if you have certain skills you could take on some of the work. Some clients choose to act as Project Managers themselves, however we would not advise that unless you are an experienced Project Manager.

An easier task would be to find sub-contractors yourself instead of using a main contractor. This way you will have more control over your project. Knowing where your materials come from, and being able to see every facet of the work. However, it’s likely your build will take a lot longer to complete, and you run the risk of having to undertake expensive repair work, if your work isn’t up to a high professional standard and it doesn’t comply with the latest Building Regulations.

8. Living in a working site

Depending on the extent of the works, your home may not be habitable during construction. For example, there may not be water for an extended time or some vital rooms, like the Kitchen and Bathroom, might not be useable.

Many people choose to rent a flat close by, so they can pop in quickly, while keeping their home life stress-free. This is the optimal decision, especially if you have kids or large pets. Alternatively, you could live in the Annex – if there is one.

9. Insurance

Many people don’t know that their current home insurance will stop covering their home the minute they start constructing an extension. In fact, it stops being applied for any structural change. For this reason, you’ll have to take out site insurance, to make sure you’re still protected.

It is also a good idea to check what your contractors liability insurance covers, if they have insurance at all! To keep your mind at ease, we recommend looking into Developer Insolvency Insurance. This will protect you in the event your contractor goes bust – which is more common than you might think.

10. Miscellaneous

Extending your home is quite a complicated project and there might be aspects of it that you don’t even imagine. For instance, did you know that some trees are protected? It is known as a TPO (Tree Preservation Orders), and if you have a protected tree in your garden it will mean you lose your permitted development rights and will need to look into getting planning permission. Altering a protected tree is even a criminal offence.

Other things you will need to consider are:

Is your house Listed or in Conservation Area? is it in or facing Green Belt? Will you be altering a crossover?

We would advise you to talk with an Architect that can do a desktop study on the property and flag out all the things that will affect your extension, before starting the whole process. You can book a free video consultation with a register Architect of our team here.

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