Extension Planning  – 10 Things You Should Consider Before Extending Your Home

Lisa Raynes

by Lisa Raynes

07/03/2017, in Main Blog

extension planning is vital for building work such as this

A successful house extension designed by Pride Road

Extension planning is vital. There are different reasons why we would like to extend our home. We have too many children! We don’t want to queue to the bathroom in the morning anymore, or our neighbours got their own extension done and we want to keep up the street standards.

The most common reason for the ground floor extension is that the house is just too dark, and the best spot in the house that is looking towards the garden is occupied by a toilet or the utility room and we are left with a small separate kitchen and two small living rooms.

Is there something we should know before we ask our builder to demolish the garden, dig a hole and build us the extension that we spend all our savings on?

  • Why Do We Want To Extend Our Home?

This is a key question which we must answer before go ahead with producing any plans. We need to find out what is it that we want to achieve. This helps in forming the best option that fits us the most. As always in life there has to be compromises done. It is the same in this case.

Listing our priorities, putting them in order and see what can be ticked and achieved might be the best first steps?

  • What are the Options For Extension?

Here you have to be really creative, but also balance creativity with your budget. If your limited budget is your main priority, be really careful and ensure that you plan thoroughly.

An architect can help you to explore your options, and whether or not you can build an extension at the back of your house, among many other essential questions.

At Pride Road, we can show you the options by running through a Custom Design Workshop, from the comfort of your very own kitchen table.  The cost involved is very small, particularly in comparison to a £40k investment that you are going to commit, and delivers a lot of vital expert insight and plan drawings, all of which will help you to make informed decisions.

  • Is the House Extension our Best Option?

Working with Pride Road Architects can also get you closer to answer this question as well.

We look at the maximum and the minimum options. We can look at minimal extension planning options, such as keeping the footprint as existing, and just playing with the existing space within it, to give the best solution. An improvement but with less cost. You never know until you draw it.

After the workshop you can price up your plans with the builder or the Quantity Surveyor. This helps you through your priority list, to work out if the extension is the only way to solve your house issues. Sometimes it turns out that the small kitchen diner opening in the wall changes the feeling of the overall space, and is just enough to make you to like your house again.

  • Further Down this Route it is easier to know the cost of our House Extension or Interior Reconfiguration

It is easier to make a decision. We go for it if we can afford it. This is the moment to secure our budget. Weight the benefits versus costs, cross out the things we can live without and keep the once we really pushed to the top of our list. If it is not possible maybe moving somewhere else is the solution.

  • We should ensure we have a Legal Confirmation that our Home Extension is Lawful

One of Pride Road’s policies is to ensure the client have a full legal confirmation of the works done to the house (there will be another blog touching this topic in more details).

The future is always waiting with some challenges on the way. We want to back up ourselves to minimise the extension planning pitfalls. There may come a time in the future when you will be actually selling this beloved home. You will be asked by the lawyers if there were any changes done to the house. You  want to be able to say want to say; Yes I do have confirmation documents from the local council that proves that all is legal. It is not so easy to track what was a permitted development back then this 20 years ago. If we have all the papers the sale goes quickly and there is no delay caused by documents that would have to be provided.

  • Will my Extension be an Investment that will Generate Revenue?

Our local estate agent can evaluate our house and the new concept design so we can see if the extension would likely elevate the price of it. If we treat it as an investment we want to make sure that we are making a profit and not loss. Your local estate agent will know what is popular, and what the trends are.

  • We want to have Assessed the Abnormalities that may have an Impact on the Costs of the Works

extension planning from the comfort of a kitchen table

A recent custom design workshop for extension planning

Before Pride Road starts the formal design process, where the CAD plans are done, Alan does the detailed survey where most of the abnormalities can be picked up if there is access to the information. This is also a moment that makes the scope of work more predictable. Pride Road puts all this details into their extension planning. Later on, when all is ready, this can be feed to the builder, who can supply a more detailed quote.

  • We want to know the builders that want to work for us

Sometimes the best builders are booked up a year in advance. If you know someone recommended – go to see their work done anyway. If you need to use builders you have found online, ask for contact details for their past clients, and have a chat with them. Unless you don’t mind waiting, it is good to do some research before you have all the documents ready for the Builder.

  • Be Prepared for a Battlefield – Patience and Calm will Help you During the Building Works

As much as we might like to use the skills of a builder known to us personally, they might be more difficult to manage than a recommended builder who not known to us. I always struggle to tell my friend to do something again, because I value their time in different way. Sometimes we need to tell our builder that this or that sucks and our wife will definitely be very very unhappy if this tiles grouts won’t be the colour we actually had picked.

  • It is Good to Have Every Decision On Paper or Email

There are many benefits to this in the extension planning process. For example, we can come back to it and point out the agreed fifth version of the kitchen layout that was suppose to be ordered. I had got an advice recently that it works better when we live managing the orders and outsourcing the kitchen and fenestration to the builder (of course we need to check and vet it before). 

Why does it work better? The good builders usually have their known manufacturers. The delivery and lead times are known so they know how to plan around it.  The delay in waiting for a worktop or a sliding door is less likely or better predicted and the waiting time is well planned. Also for the builder it is easier to commit and keep the commitment if there are no delays from the third parties.

We then can fully demand keeping up with the time frame that was agreed.

It is no news that we treat our home very personally, therefore it is not easy to meet up to our expectations. On top of it the chance of human error is high, and where there are many people working on a project, there are like to be mistakes and possible delays. We need to remember that the building work to an old house is always a big unknown.

I think being patient is the only way to go. We shall seek for the solutions, as there is always a way out to overcome the challenge.

We want things to be done beautifully, as we will be looking at the results on a daily basis. That’s why good communication with the builder is the key. Domestic projects are sometimes done without a Professional Tender Pack. This is common because the Tender Pack costs money, but is not a must do.

Also in some cases it scares the builders away if they see so much detail. 

  • The Main Architectural Design is just the Beginning : There are Many More Choices that have to be Made, more than we are Aware of

Tender packs help to list all the details, and is very useful in the extension planning process. Without it we might face a decision question that otherwise we could have more time to ponder about and do more research. It is definitely good to plan this in advance and not leave it to decide on the spot.

Kitchen design, tiles, wall colours and floors are the choices we like to do. How about types of light points, toilet mounting systems, wall lights, taps, door handles, and shower systems, etc… (There will be another blog that will follow about what needs to be inside the Tender Pack)

This article is more on the optimistic side of how to prepare well, so the things don’t go wrong.

  • Summarizing our Journey towards the Dream House Extension our Ideal Scenario will be like this:

  1. We have a project that makes our house much nicer to live in
  2. We actually can afford to finance it – as we secured the loan because we are sure how much it will cost
  3. We actually have 20% more money on the side for extra things that can appear unexpectedly (of course nothing happens and we use it for a nice holidays after this 16 weeks of scheduled works)
  4. We got all the extension Planning Approvals and Building Regulation drawings on time and there is no surprises like the lack or manholes or missing bat survey that the City Council asked us to provide
  5. We have a detailed Tender Pack and we gathered all the little jobs we were to ask the builder later on
  6. Our builder gave us a detailed quote that means he also knows the exact scale of work ahead of him
  7. If our builder doesn’t have information about the design, he will ask our architect to solve it or to source the solution.
  8. Our builder will go through the documentation before he starts the job and he will ask all the necessary details far in advance, so we have time to think and give him the well thought answers
  9. All the materials will arrive on time.
  10. The weather will be perfect for the works outside
  11. Our Builder will have a reliable and experienced gang of workers
  12. We will be well rested and still full of energy to answer all this questions that our builder keep asking.
  13. We will be very happy with all the finishing work just because it’s done perfectly.
  14. All the windows are closing nicely, the tiles are smoothly lied and corners are finished with this cool 45 degree cut and plastered, we have just a perfect amount of light points so it is not too dark etc…
  15. Our builder will finish well before scheduled time.
  16. In the end there will be no additional costs and our even builder will saved us some money as he outsourced cheaper materials
  17. Our house is now spotless as the builder left it in an immaculate condition, and there is no dust in our wardrobes

Think positively. Have as much as possible thought through beforehand and match expectations with the money right at the beginning. For any advice you know where to find your Pride Road Architect.

Magdalena Häner