Churchill magazine

What to consider when planning an extension

Updated on: 13 October 2020

Scaffolding around a building which is being extended.

Extending your home can be a great way to get more living space and to increase its value, but such a project needs to be well planned. Read on to find out what steps you should take to avoid running into problems.

All part of the plan

Before you start any exciting home improvement you should find out if you need to apply for planning permission.

The consequences of carrying out work without planning permission could mean being forced to put things right later. This could also affect your home insurance.

If you’re in any doubt then contact the planning department of your council to check.

Typical things you’ll need permission for are adding an extension to your home, dividing off part of your house to use as a separate dwelling or for commercial purposes, plus work that might obstruct the view of road users.

You’re unlikely to need it for small alterations to the outside of your house, and putting up walls and fences below a certain height. If you live in a conservation area or a listed building, further restrictions may apply.

The right person for the job

Once you’re sure it’s OK to go ahead with your plans, you’ll probably need to choose a builder. Having one recommended by a friend who’s had similar work done and was happy with the results is a good idea. You can also contact the National Federation of Builders (www.builders.org.uk) for a list of members in your area.

You should try to get estimates for the work from at least three firms. Ask for quotes in writing, references (which you should check) and to see their public liability insurance.

When you’ve chosen a builder ask them to draw up a written contract, which should include an outline of the work to be done, hours of work, completion date and so on. It’s also a good idea to agree a payment schedule up front.

Follow the rules

The Building Regulations cover the construction and extension of buildings, but you might also need approval for some alteration work.

This shouldn’t be confused with planning permission, and if you’re employing a builder it's usually their responsibility to make sure everything complies. Be sure to confirm this with them at the beginning of the work.

However, bear in mind that as the owner of the building it’s you who could get an enforcement notice if the work does not meet with the regulations.

Keep the neighbours happy

While not part of the rules and regulations for building a home extension, keeping your neighbours onside should also be taken seriously. Here are some tips to prevent relations from souring.

  • Let your neighbours know what work you intend to do.

  • If you can, reassure them that there won’t be too much disruption.

  • Explain how the design of your planned extension will fit in with the overall look and style of your house and street.

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