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House Extension: Where do I begin?

28th May 2019/Planning

(Stunning rear extension to a terraced property maximising the use of space)

What to consider before you start your extension?

Extending your home is a popular way to increase space and add value to your property without the hassle (and costs) of moving houses, but where do you start?

The first question to ask yourself, is will your plans add value to your home? 

It’s worth speaking to an estate agent who can give a view on whether your extension plans would add value to your home and if so, by how much.

Planning permission or permitted development? 

Some extension projects can be carried out without the need for planning permission, these are referred to as your “permitted development rights”. 

The legalities state that:

Single-storey extensions

If your extension will have one storey, you don’t need planning permission as long as:

– it’s located at the back of the house

– it doesn’t go back further than 3 metres if it’s a terraced house, or 4 metres if it isn’t

– the height of the eaves (where the wall meets the roof) is no higher than 3 metres

– it’s not higher than 4 metres, including sloping roofs

– it doesn’t cover more floor area than your house does

– it doesn’t take up half the ‘curtilage’ – the grounds behind your home

– it isn’t within a conservation area

Multi-storey extensions

If your extension will have more than one storey, you don’t need planning permission for it as long as:

– it’s located at the back of the house

– there’s at least 10 metres between the extension and the boundaries of your grounds

– it isn’t higher than your house (excluding chimneys)

– it doesn’t cover more floor area than your original house does

– it doesn’t take up half the ‘curtilage’ – the grounds behind your home

– it isn’t within a conservation area

Building Regulations:

Regardless whether planning permission is required or not, any renovation/extension project must comply with building regulations.

This means that you’ll need to ensure that the contractor who carries out the work can either self-certify the work they do (for example Gas Safe registered gas engineers) or will liaise with the local building control officers at your council to have their work certified. 

Insurance Provider:

Before starting the project it’s important you contact your home and contents insurance provider to make them aware of your renovation plans.

The extension will likely increase the rebuild cost of your house – which insurers take into account when pricing premiums. If you don’t let your insurer know and there’s a problem with the property at any point, your insurance policy could become void.

Your insurer will let you know if the current policy you hold will cover the new extension.

Leasehold or freehold property?

If you’re renting the property (leasehold) you will want to check the details of your lease to ensure you have the right to make alterations, this is usually subject to approval from the owner of the property, the freeholder. 

Your Neighbours…

Building projects can cause much contention between neighbours. If planning permission is required then your neighbours will be contacted by the local planning authority. However, before the letter arrives through their door, it’s a good idea to let them know about your plans in advance, especially if the works may cause disruption.

Designing an extension and finding an architect:

Depending on the size of the project, it may be wise to involve an architect.  This isn’t necessary however many people find it easier to have a professional draw up the designs. However, you’ll need to factor their fees into your budget. 

On meeting an architect it’s important to give as much detail as possible, your timings and how and when you intend to pay them. 

Structural Engineer:

A structural engineer can also provide technical drawings and calculations, they further provide an  SER form that accepts liability for the structure of the building.

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