Adding an extension to your property in Romford is an effective way of creating more living space, perhaps to give you more room for your hobbies or work, or to accommodate a growing family or an elderly relative. It is often a more economical option than moving house, not least because buying a new property incurs stamp duty and estate agent fees – which in some cases might amount to the cost of an extension itself.
Below is a step-by-step guide to the main challenges you will face as you advance from deciding to build an extension in Essex in the first instance, to moving into the final structure.
Consider these questions before you go ahead
Will you build one or two storeys? Compared to a single storey, a two-storey structure won't cost much more per square metre because you will need to pay for the most expensive elements anyway: the foundations and roofing.
Access: will building the extension limit off-street parking? If so, you may encounter problems with regards to planning permission.
How will a builder bring materials to the plot? Will they be able to access the site easily, from the rear for example, or will all materials need to come through the property?
You should also consider soil condition, services, nearby trees (roots, overhanging branches), rights of way and any flood risks.
Ask advice from friends who have had an extension built
Try to find someone who has been through the process before. No doubt you will have plenty of questions for them. They will be able to give you tips ad advice, as well as warn you what to avoid or look out for. Ask them if they can recommend a good architect and/or builder.
Choose an architect registered to a reputable institution
Like builders, home designers do not need to be registered with any particular organisation or agency. However, choosing one that is affiliated with a reputable architectural body is a prudent step. Among the main bodies are the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). Make sure your designer carries sufficient professional indemnity insurance (PII). And be aware that if you carry out the designing yourself, you will need your own PII.
Work out the costs
How much your extension will cost depends on many factors, not least of which is the quality and complexity of the design. As a rough guide, a cost of £1,000–£2,000 per square metre should be expected. You may also wish to employ an architect/designer or structural engineer, which will be an additional cost. Although there is currently no law stating you have to, we highly recommend that you do, so that you are confident that you are designing a safe structure.
Remember to balance the budget for your extension with the value it will add to the overall property.
Work out the outgoings at each stage of the project
In general, builders will take payments at different stages of the building process. Costly items should be purchased in your name, in case the builder goes out of business.
An architect will require payment as they work. An accurate quotation is important in order to get a good idea of the final cost. Establish who pays the local authority application fees – you or the architect?
Do you need planning permission?
Not all extensions require planning permission. Permitted Development Rights mean that in certain circumstances you can begin building without telling your local authority. Learn about the criteria on the Gov.uk website.
Contact your local planning office if unsure. Informally visit your local planning office and ask them if what you have in mind will require planning authorisation. Making any changes to a listed building will require planning permission.
Make sure you meet Building Regulations
Building Regulations are laid out by parliament and cover aspects of a dwelling such as fire safety, insulation, drainage and access.
You can either submit a Full Plan Submission or a Building Notice. The former requires more detailed advance planning, but could reduce the chances of you contravening any regulations. A Building Notice, by contrast, is the riskier (and potentially costlier) of the two, since you may only find out you have a compliance issue after work has been done.
Find a reliable and trustworthy builder
Make sure you do your homework in finding the right builder. Ask friends and family for recommendations. You will be in contact for a long time so it is important to get on with your builder on a personal basis. Make sure you get a warranty from your builder. If any structural defects or faulty workmanship become apparent, you will only have recourse if a warranty was provided before work commenced. This may also focus the builder’s mind on doing a good job.
Consider finding multi-skilled tradesmen. In the interests of continuity and cost savings, it will be of huge benefit if you can find a group of tradesmen who each boast a range of skills.
Planning for additional heating and electrical circuits
Work out if your existing boiler is able to cope with the additional demand of the extension. Equally, decide if you need an additional electrical circuit – although this is usually only necessary if you are adding a kitchen.
Get a detailed quotation from your builder
A builder should be able to give you a detailed quotation if you have provided sufficient information. Avoid day work rates as they can push costs up. If VAT is to be added to the bill, make sure the VAT registration number is detailed on the receipt. Less reputable builders may charge VAT but keep the additional money for themselves.
Decide whether to move out during construction
Given the disruption and noise associated with extension building work, you may decide to move out for the duration. Some decide to move into a caravan in the garden – although this may not be practical for large families. Renting rooms nearby is a costlier alternative.
These are just some of the ideas our builders in Romford have come up with. If you need help with any garage conversion in Essex, call the team on 01708 578 014.
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