Getting bigger – tips on extending your home

An extension is a great way to make your home bigger and better, as long as you don’t make your garden too small in the process.

An extension is a great way to make your home bigger and better, as long as you don’t make your garden too small in the process.

While building an extension won’t be cheap and will take some time, it’s often better than having to move home when your family has outgrown its current one.

Depending on your home’s layout and as long as the new layout complies with building regulations, a ground-floor extension can be turned into pretty much anything, typically a kitchen-diner, but also an extra living area or den, a home office or even a bedroom and en suite.

If you can run to a two-storey extension, you’ll increase both your living and sleeping space, or can add a dressing room or extra bathroom upstairs, whatever you need.

The problem with two-storey extensions is that they often require planning permission, whereas ground-floor extensions can often be done under permitted development rights, providing it has them – flats and maisonettes don’t and some houses have had theirs removed.

If your home doesn’t have these rights or you want to build an extension that can’t be done under permitted development, you’ll have to go through the planning process, which can be lengthy, expensive and frustrating.

Any proposed extension along or close to a shared boundary with a neighbour falls under the Party Wall Act, meaning you’ll need a party wall agreement with the neighbour, which can be an expensive and frustrating process if there’s a dispute.

While you can get flat-pack extensions, just as you can get flat-pack homes, most extensions are built in a more conventional way, with an architect designing it and a builder constructing it.

If the architect also manages the project and contractors (usually charging a percentage of the build cost), you should have less to do and worry about.

You may prefer to manage the build yourself, or the builder may do it, but someone will need to take responsibility for getting everything and everyone in the right place at the right time.

As well as time to build the shell of the extension, you’ll need to factor in fitting-out time. A kitchen will take longer than other rooms and will also be more expensive.

Like any other big home-improvement project, an extension can easily go over budget, so keep a careful eye on the numbers and schedule and always have a contingency fund.

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