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Kirsty Answers: What Do I Need To Consider/Do When Planning For An Extension and/or Loft Conversion?


The first thing - Cost and Budget!

Knowing how much it is going to cost and what you can get for your budget is probably the most thought about part of planning for a home extension and/or loft conversion.


The price will depend on lots of different factors such as the size of the extension, the shape of the extension, single or two-storey, a wrap-around, how much or how little you will do yourself (including how much you will manage yourself i.e. the different tradespersons involved), the specifications and materials you want, the addition of a kitchen, bathroom, utility, en-suite, etc., and the ever volatile building and trade market, as well as the current high demand.


One point to note is that, more would be got for your money by converting an existing space, such as a loft, garage or cellar, so long as the space is suitable for a conversion. However, any complex requirements will naturally see the costs increase.


In addition to a conversion or extension, generally there will also be costs incurred to alter the existing structure of the building to link the existing walls to the new extension or conversion. Alterations and/or demolition costs will also be a factor to consider.


Then there are the fees such as the Architect's fee, the Structural Engineer's fee, planning application fees and building control fees (both payable to your local authority).


So, What Do I Do?

Of course, it depends on what you're initially planning for and each project will be different to any other. Generally, the initial plan would go as follows (not necessarily in the exact order):

  1. Work-out your budget and consider how this will be financed;

  2. Research a number of local builders (4 or 5, perhaps), get in touch with them informally at first, get a feel for them, discuss your plans, get an idea of availability, arrange for a site visit, if possible, etc. Following which, whittle the number of builders down (say, to 3);

  3. Decide who will project manage the works (you, the building contractor, a split between the two?); Do you want the works carried up to first fix, or to second fix? What about decorating? Will you take on this task or do you want decorating to be included in the project?

  4. Consider whether the Party Wall Act applies to the project and act accordingly;

  5. Consider whether or not planning permission is required (some extensions can built under Permitted Development, meaning that you won't have to obtain the formal planning permission). You can use this interactive service to find out whether or not you need planning permission on projects such as loft conversions, porches and small single-storey extensions here;

  6. Based on the above, it is a good idea to create a simple project plan yourself. Write a brief summary of what is currently required from your property and what you are hoping to achieve. Write any pointers you have obtained from your initial discussions and considerations above. Include any pictures of extension types/loft conversion floorplans you have seen or imagine. List what the extension/loft conversion should have (i.e. utility space, kitchen area, en-suite, storage, etc.). Finally, list any concerns/foreseeable issues that may arise following your discussions/research, above. Some Architects like to be sure that a client is serious about going ahead with an extension/loft conversion and having this in place shows that you are serious.

  7. Instruct an Architect who will draw up the plans for you. Research local architects in your area and get a feel for one that will understand exactly what you want to achieve in your home. Some Architects are able to offer a service that assists you in taking you right up to instructing your builder, such as arranging the structural engineer and dealing with planning permissions and building regulations;

  8. Ensure that you are complying with Building Regulations (dealt with by your local authority), whether planning permission is required or not. To do this, either submit a 'Full Plan Submission' (sends plans to your local authority prior to the works for approval. A building inspector will visit the site throughout the works to inspect the progress.) or a 'Building Notice' (informs the local authority that works are to begin which shall comply with building regulation. A building inspector will inspect the work and inform you (or your builder) if there are any problems, which, if works have already started/ended and there is a problem, it will need to be put right). Your contractor can act as an "Agent" with the local authority and carry this step out for you.

  9. E-mail or arrange a second visit to the property with your chosen potential builder(s) with a view of getting their estimation of costs. Let them see/have (by email) your drawings and structural calculations (as above), specifications, planning permission, any legalities, such as Party Wall Agreement, etc. Expect around 4 weeks for all builders to come back to you. Go through everything carefully and if you're not sure about something, ask questions. Understand their requirements for paying a deposit (if required). Check to see whether your deposit will be protected. After careful consideration, choose which builder you wish to go with and let them know. The next stage would be to provision in a starting month/week/date. Its a nice idea to keep in regular contact with each other;

  10. If works are to commence, notify your insurer of the work to discuss cover during the works and understand any conditions they may have. However, it may be that your insurer's do not provide cover during works such as these;

  11. Await your plans becoming a reality!

Can we consider you as one of our potential contractors?

If you would like to start the ball rolling, you can get in touch using our business phoneline or WhatsApp (by adding the following number): 0113 8730434; or you can complete our Enquiries form here. We hope to hear from you soon.




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