According to Nationwide adding an extension or loft conversion to your home could increase the value of your home by 23% Building works can be costly but with the average cost to move in excess of £25,000, it can be money well spent.
In the past few years, extending living space has become increasingly popular among homeowners. It allows you to upgrade your home and get extra space for a growing family without needing to move, and in the long run, the money spent could be more than worth it.
Moving vs. extending
Many people contemplate moving home to get the extra space they require, but sometimes this isn’t always practical. House prices at the next step on the ladder could make things difficult, or perhaps you just don’t want to move – you like the location, the neighbours and the home itself, but you just need a bit of extra space. And what if you can’t find anything else that meets your criteria?
In these scenarios, extending rather than moving could be the answer. It may take an initial lump sum investment, but it could work out cheaper than buying a more expensive property.
Why use an architect?
‘It sounds obvious, but builders specialise in building things and architects specialise in designing spaces,’ explains Judith Tugman of Architect Your Home. ‘Going straight to a builder means you miss out on the crucial design stage. By using an architect, you’ll end up with a home that’s right for you and that you’ll love living in. Remember, too, a badly designed extension can actually reduce the selling price.’
You can hire an architect to manage all of the building process, including helping you secure planning consent and building regulation certification, finding a suitable builder, monitoring progress, standards and safety on site, arranging input from specialists and overseeing construction to completion.
It is important to find a good architect . One of the best ways is through personal recommendation, or contact RIBA, which can provide a shortlist of architects with the skills to suit your project. Log on to architecture.com/useanarchitect for a directory of registered practices.
Ask to see an architect’s portfolio and take a look at three recent jobs and even visit finished projects. Don’t forget to ask for references, and bear in mind a good practice will be in demand.
Preparing a brief
Consider what you want from your extension and how it will make your life better. Sit down with your architect and identify what you want to achieve. Keep things simple & well-defined.
Consider how the finished project will function. Do you need an extra bedroom, crave a bigger kitchen or want more light in your home? Who will use it, and for what?
Think about the design direction. Have you already seen something you like the look of?
Consider internal finishes such as flooring, lighting, storage and even smaller things like light switches in the early stages, as they’ll all affect your budget. And agree on a timescale.
Setting a budget
A general rule of thumb is to allow £150 per sq. ft. of development, and remember you aren’t just thinking about the extension, but the existing space inside, too.
If you opt for less expensive fixtures and fittings, you could squeeze this down to £100, but equally, if you go for higher quality this could rise to £200 per sq. ft.
Bear in mind that, on top of the build budget, there will be architect, engineer and builders’ fees, government VAT and building control and planning costs, too.
Don’t forget to allow a contingency fund of 10 per cent for unforeseen circumstances.
Ground level extensions
With more people working from home, studies are becoming an increasingly popular reason to extend.
Unsurprisingly, there’s also been a big move towards open-plan kitchen-diners. The latest ground-level extensions are seamlessly integrated inside, but also blur the boundaries between inside and out.
Providing your property hasn’t been extended in the past, you can extend by up to 50 cubic metres, as long as it’s not more than 4m above ground level, or 10 per cent of the existing floor space, without obtaining planning permission. Even so, always check before embarking on a project in case there are other conditions that apply.
Sometimes simply removing internal walls can open up a space without having to eat into valuable footage in the garden. And don’t forget that making use of a side return can increase the size of your kitchen by up to 40 per cent.
Part L Regulations, which relate to a building’s thermal efficiency, mean there is now a restriction on how much glass you can use, but this can be offset by installing high- efficiency insulation and by using Low E (low emission) double or triple glazed panels.
Loft conversions are a popular option as they make use of existing space and can increase the value of your home by 15-20%.
Properties built before around 1975 are most likely to be suitable. Modern trussed roofs may need more structural work, and an attic roof needs to be at least 2.3m high unless you’re prepared to have the ceiling below lowered.
To be considered a proper room, it will need a permanent staircase. If you’re planning a bathroom, think where soil pipes will go and whether your existing boiler could supply extra hot water.
Your local planning office can tell you if you need planning permission, as it can vary. You’ll also need to comply with building regulations, including fire safety requirements.
Basement conversions are the most expensive and specialised projects to undertake, but a good idea if you live in a very high-cost area. Basement conversions tend to be all about leisure, creating family rooms with the latest technology.
But remember converting an existing basements space can reduce your storage so is important to factor that into the design.
Older period properties tend to be more suitable as they have sturdier foundations, and many already have cellars, meaning foundations are even deeper. More modern houses can sometimes be converted, but check with an underpinning specialist to assess feasibility and cost.
Source: Nationwide; Architect Your Home