Home Extensions

Planning and financing an Extension for your Home

Adding an extension to your home is becoming more and more popular as an alternative to moving house. Ever increasing house prices and the costs of moving can make adapting your current home seem an attractive, more affordable option. However, you do need to think carefully and do some research to ensure your plans go smoothly. Although you will save on agent's fees, stamp duty and removal expenses, there will be architect's costs and disruption to your home.

Why build a house extension?

Firstly think about the purpose of your extension. Do you need more space for a growing family, a home office, a self-contained area for an elderly relative, or are you thinking of the extension as an investment to increase the value of your property? The purpose of your building project will affect the planning permission you need and your budget. For example planning a large scale two storey extension will require a different approach to a small conservatory, and there is no point installing expensive, luxury fittings in your new kitchen if you are planning to move in a year or two.

Planning considerations for a home extension

You should have a good look around your local area. In particular note whether any of your neighbours have extended their property and if so how? Do you wish to do something similar or do you have very different ideas? Your planning application will have to be in keeping with the area and is more likely to be accepted if there is already something similar nearby. All areas have rules and regulations covering basics such as how close to the house next door you can build and potential use of the building. However, in some cases there will be other restrictions such as in green belt areas, national parks and for listed buildings.

As long as they are done properly most extensions will add some value to your home. However, the cost of the build could be higher than the added value. Remember there will be fees incurred and there is likely to be a ceiling value for your particular type of property and neighbourhood.

How to finance your home extension

How you decide to finance your extension will depend on the costs involved and your circumstances. However, re-mortgaging could well be your best option. This means you will pay off your current mortgage by taking out another. At the same time you increase the amount you borrow to cover the cost of your build. It is important to include all fees, internal fixtures and fittings, decorating and so on in your budget. Also consider whether you will have to move into rented accommodation for a short time and allow for that. Something unexpected will always happen so make sure you include a contingency fund.

Architects and extension planning permission

In order to decide whether your plans are feasible you are likely to need advice from an architect. Contact the Royal Institute of British Architects for a list of those registered in your area. Choose several and make an appointment to discuss your ideas. This type of initial consultation is usually free but check first. You can outline your requirements, look at their portfolio to see whether they have worked on similar projects before, and ask about their fee structure. You will then be in a position to select the most appropriate for your situation.

As a minimum an architect will draw up plans to submit to the planning department. They can negotiate with the council and hopefully you will obtain planning permission. However, be prepared for a slow process, particularly if you are refused at first or there are objections. Once you have planning permission you then have to submit detailed technical plans to cover building regulations. Some architects offer a further service to manage the whole project for you. This means they will get quotes from builders and oversee the work in progress. This may save you some worry and hassle but will be an additional expense.

How do I find a reputable builder?

By far the best way of finding a builder is word of mouth recommendation. Have any of your friends, neighbours or family used local builders and if so would they recommend their services? Alternatively look out for builders working nearby. They often put out company boards on site. Some builders specialise in particular types of work, for example loft or garage conversions, which may be appropriate for you. Think about whether you want a large company to come in and get the extension done as soon as possible. In that case you can expect a lot of different people coming and going all the time, depending on the stage of the work. Alternatively are you prepared to wait for a two man set up which will be slower but may be less disruptive? It is a good idea to get at least three quotes and ask for a fixed price, otherwise your budget could quickly disappear. Also ask for timescales and how they will go about the work. Will they expect you to move out or will they work around you as far as possible?

About The Author

Sue Barnard writes and publishes guides on managing your home and running your personal finances. More of her work can be seen on these http://www.improve-your-home.co.uk and http://www.homefinance.org.uk websites.

"hi, you can also have plans drawn by a suitably experienced architectural designer, architectural technician or architectural technologist. You do not need to use a fully qualified Architect and may find that you get better value for money and a job well done."

Jenny McIntee Architectural Design