Are you looking to create a bright, daylight-filled home? Daylight makes a room feel not just brighter, but also bigger and more welcoming. If you are renovating your home, building an extension or a loft conversion, we can give you some ideas of how to make the most of natural daylight.
Open plan rooms to allow light to flow
Knock through walls to create an open plan layout that will allow the darker of the rooms to benefit from the natural light from the other side. Introducing windows on two sides of a room will not only create a double aspect, but it will also ensure that the space is well lit throughout the daylight hours.
If you still want the feeling of separate zones, try dividing the space cleverly. Use a half wall, or three-quarter-height stud wall if you want a visual barrier, or even use furniture to break up the space.
Create a welcoming hallway
If you have a dark hallway, it could be because you have a solid door and no windows. Investing in a new front door with glazing will bring natural light in. You may also want to consider a side window for extra light.
Open up to the garden with large glazed doors
Whether you select bi-fold or sliding doors, or more traditional French doors, opening up the back of the house to the garden will make the room brighter. It will also connect your room to the garden year-round; making the most of your outside view.
Add skylights to flat or pitched roofs
Skylights can easily and quickly be installed in both flat and pitched roofs. They allow far more light to come into the room than vertical windows. You will also benefit from more light throughout the day. A top light, (skylight) can let in three times more brightness. So, whether in an extension, over a hallway, or in a utility room, adding a skylight will make your space feel bright and airy. We recommend spending the extra money on ‘self-cleaning’ glass.
Add new windows or enlarge existing windows
If you are adding an extension or doing a renovation. Think about how your house is situated and how to get the most out of the sun that shines on your home. If there's an opportunity to add new windows to catch the sunlight, this should be considered. Bear in mind that this job, while worthwhile, will be considerably more expensive.
Building regulations for windows
Planning permission to replace, alter or add new windows to introduce more natural light into your house is not normally needed, but we recommend checking with your local authority. There is one new important restriction to remember: any new side-facing first-floor windows will have to be frosted windows, to protect the neighbours’ privacy.
Windows and doors that are completely replaced in existing homes, must comply with the up-to date building regulations – you can find out more from your local authority.
Whether you are undertaking the work yourself or using a builder, your local authority must be notified, so that they can carry out an inspection. On completion, you will receive a certificate of compliance. If you are using a FENSA registered glazier, then the company can issue a certificate of compliance itself under the self-assessment scheme.
Create light and brightness around your staircase
Installing an open-tread staircase, especially for a loft conversion, is an option to keep light flowing around the first-floor landing. The work well in both modern and traditional homes.
If you have wooden staircases, banisters or spindles, painting them a bright white will help reflect the natural light coming in.
Hang mirrors wherever possible
Mirrors can be hung in any room: bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, bathrooms… Even kitchens can benefit from hanging an appropriate mirror on a wall. Rather than a functional mirror, add a mirror that creates a feature. Mirrors will help bounce light around the room.
Replace internal solid doors with glazed ones
Change solid doors for those with frosted or clear glazing. This can work particularly well in dark hallways, where the natural light from the rooms will reach into the hallway.
Lightweight fabrics and blinds
Net curtains can take away a lot of natural light from the room, so use them only if necessary. Using sheer, lightweight fabric for large windows will allow natural light to flow through your rooms.
Choosing blinds, or shutters will allow natural light to stream in, whilst at the same time offering privacy.
Use our guide to window shutters to choose the best for your space.
If you would like to add more natural light to your home feel free to get in touch with Essex Building and Carpentry Services. We can advise you of on the options that are available. We cover homes in Havering, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Billericay. Call us today on 01708 578 014.
If you own a property that shares a wall with a neighbour, this is called a Party Wall. Whether the party wall is a supporting wall, or not, any work you or your builder does to it could have an effect on the neighbouring property.
If you’re planning any building work in your property that could have structural implications on that wall, you will need to formally issue a notice to the owners of the other properties.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, protects the rights of your neighbours on the other side of the wall and means that you have to give them official Notice if you are going to undertake any work to it. The law states that you have to give a minimum of two months’ notice before you start any work.
Before sending them any formal notices, we recommended talking to your neighbours and letting them know that you are planning to undergo some refurbishment work/extension, and that in due course you will let them know in writing of any work that you plan to undertake. This conversation will quickly let you know how they feel about the work and pave the way to hopefully making the formalities easier to get the green light.
What types of work need a Party Wall Notice?
The types of work that require you to serve a Party Wall Notice includes: inserting a damp-proof course, underpinning a party wall, cutting into a party wall to take the bearing of a beam, raising the height of a party wall, extending a party wall downwards, demolishing and rebuilding a party wall and cutting off projections from a party wall, such as removing a chimney breast.
What has to be included in the Notice?
There is no actual official Party Wall Notice form that you can use, however you need to make sure that it is a clear to them that it is a Notice under the provisions of the Act. You must also include these points:
Party Wall Notices aren’t complicated, but if it is not written correctly, the whole process would need to start again, as it wouldn’t be valid.
There are a lot of people giving advice but not all of it is accurate. We recommend seeking the advice of a qualified Party Wall Surveyor. If you don’t know one, feel free to get in touch with Essex Building and Carpentry Services we can advise you of one that covers Havering, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Billericay. Call us today on 01708 578 014.
Homeowners looking for more space often opt for a loft conversion. By making some adjustments to the roof, they can create new rooms using the footprint of their home. This can be a great way to get additional bedrooms and a bathroom.
Is your loft suitable for conversion?
The first thing to check is the head height. Take a measurement from the bottom of the ridge timber to the top of the ceiling joist; the usable part of the roof should be more than 2.2 m.
Pitch angle: The higher the slope of your room, the higher the central head height is likely to be. If you want to increase the floor area available, dormers are used or the roof is redesigned.
It is likely that you are going to want to remove items that are in the loft, such as water tanks or chimney breasts.
What is the cost of a loft conversion?
The cost of a loft conversion will largely depend on your roof structure, the existing available space and whether any alterations need to be made to the floor below to accommodate the staircase.
For a basic ‘room in roof’ loft conversion you will most likely need to:
Reinforce the floor
It is unlikely that the existing ceiling joists are going to be strong enough to support a conversion floor, which means additional new joists will be required to comply with Building Regulations.
For a basic room conversion, you will want to add skylights to bring natural light into your conversion. A skylight is also commonly placed above the staircase.
Continuity of insulation between walls and roof is required to avoid any cold gaps. It is recommended to invest in good insulation to ensure that your loft room is optimal in both the winter and summer months.
It is necessary to ensure that the space between the floor of your loft conversion and ceiling of your lower floor is soundproofed, otherwise this will cause a lot of misery in the years to follow.
Add staircase to the loft
This can often be the trickiest part (after the roof), deciding where to place your staircase so that it flows naturally through your home. The ideal location for your staircase landing is in line with the roof ridge, as this will make the best use of the available height above the staircase. Width and height restrictions apply to the staircase and the steps themselves.
Install electrics, lighting and heating
Think carefully about how you are going to use this space and add the appropriate electric, lighting and heating for these areas. You can never have too many plug sockets!
Ensure you have in place the fire safety measures such as include fire doors and smoke alarms. For loft conversions added to two-storey houses, stricter provisions apply, due to the greater risk associated with escape via high-level windows. These require a new 30-minute fire-resistant floor to the loft conversion.
This type of conversion could cost in the region of £15,000
Adding a dormer, to create more usable floor space, could add another £5,000+ to your budget. Budgets can then increase significantly if you are adding a bathroom to your new floor.
Changing the roof structure for a loft conversion
Many homeowners decide that if they are going to go through the disruption of a loft conversion, they want to maximise the space that they have. What they will do is remove and rebuild the existing roof so that they can get the most from the footprint of the loft space. This enables them to have much bigger bedrooms with maximum headspace. This type of conversion will require planning permission.
For these types of conversions you will also need to factor in the additional costs of drawings, planning permission as well as building control.
What if my loft has a low head height - is a loft conversion still possible?
There are two solutions for this situation:
1: You could raise the roof. This requires planning permission. By removing some, or all, of the existing roof you can rebuild it and give it the required height and structure. This can be an expensive process
2: You could lower the ceiling in the room below. This will require structural reinforcement on walls from which the new floor joists to hang from.
If you would like to talk to Essex Building and Carpentry Services about your home refurbishment and renovation ideas, you can reach us on 01708 578 014. Located in Romford, Essex, we offer a range of building services in and around Havering, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Billericay.
The best way to work your way up the property ladder is to maximise your current home, so that when it comes to selling it, you can get the best price for your property.
Here are some of the best ways to add value to your property.
Installing a modern kitchen
We agree kitchens are a big investment but having a modern kitchen will attract buyers to want to choose your home. Remember the cost of buying your home is going to leave them tight for cash for a while. If you can offer them a home with a brand new kitchen installation, that they can be happy with, you are likely to get an offer more quickly.
Beautiful bathroom installations
As with kitchens, installing bathrooms can be costly too. But adding a beautiful bathroom to your home will add value. If your home is on the market, you are likely to sell it faster by updating this well used room.
Convert your garage to a living space
If your garage is an oversized junk room, then maybe it is time to have a good clear out. Rehome the wanted items into a new area, such as a shed and convert your garage into a liveable area.
Your first step should be to check that your garage is suitable for conversion and whether you need planning permission. In many cases, converting a garage will be classed as permitted development, so you won’t need planning permission, but always check with your local authority.
A garage conversion is always subject to building regulations to ensure it is structurally sound. They will check that drainage, electrics, walls and the roof comply with the latest regulations.
Build a side-return extension
A side return is a narrow alley that runs adjacent to the kitchen in a typical terraced or semi-detached house. Extending the kitchen into the side return and to the full width of the rest of the house means you gain valuable space and can also improve the layout.
A single-storey side-return extension will usually be classed as a permitted development, provided you meet certain limits and conditions.
For example, it must be no more than 4m high and no wider than half the width of the original house.
Build a rear extension
For houses that don’t have a side access to build upon, you may be able to benefit from a rear extension. Rear extensions tend to be single storey, and sometimes are called kitchen extensions. In these instances, the entire property is built out into the back garden. Often homeowners will bring the outdoors in by adding bi-folding doors.
Loft conversions will instantly add to the value of your home, especially if it’s a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. Most lofts can be converted, but it’s worth getting an architect or builder to double check before you start.
Once you have met with an architect they can talk you through the types of conversions available for your property. Options range from a roof light conversion, which needs the least amount of structural work and so is the most cost-effective. These usually come under permitted development. More expensive loft conversions are when one or both slopes of the roof are replaced with a new structure with steeper sides and an almost flat roof. These types of extension require permission form the local authority.
The general rule of thumb is that you need to apply for planning permission if you want to extend your roof space by more than 50m3 (40m3 for terraced housing).
Increase your living space with a conservatory
A fully glazed conservatory will merge indoors with outdoors. But there is lot to think about and decide when it comes to building a conservatory. What type of frame do you want? uPVC, timber and aluminium frames all have different qualities. What type of glazing would you like? Determining how you want to use the space, will make decisions easier.
The biggest cost of your conservatory will be the glass, so explore your options. Double glazing is the minimum standard permitted by building regulations, however, there is a vast range of glazing options available, including self-cleaning glass and solar control glass.
Adding a conservatory to your house is considered to be permitted development provided you meet various limits and conditions. Building regulations will be required if you want to remove the doors or wall linking the conservatory to your house. There will be other criteria that you will have to meet too. Check with your local authority before starting any work.
Adding a porch
A porch is popular feature. It’s a place to help transition from the outside in. It can be a place to store coats, shoes, sports kits and all those other things that you want to keep out of your hallway. Porches also add an extra layer of security to your home, as well as preserve the heat within the home during the winter months.
If you would like to talk to Essex Building and Carpentry Services about your home refurbishment and renovation ideas, you can reach us on 01708 578 014. Located in Romford, Essex, we build offer a range of building services in and around Havering, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Billericay.
Finding a builder can be a daunting process. You have an idea of what you want the finished project to look like, you’ve sorted out your budget and you’ve mentally prepared for the ensuing disruption. Finding a building firm that you can trust to do a good job, within the proposed timeframe, is not always as easy as it sounds. Read our guide to help you find a reliable builder in your area.
Take the time to research the builders in your area
The first thing you should do is ask for recommendations from friends and family. A personal recommendation is one of the best ways of finding a builder as you can objectively discuss things like their workmanship, timekeeping and cleanliness etc. You could even put out a request on social media to see what responses you get. Remember to ask about their workmanship and reliability. From here you will have a list from which to work through.
Another way of sourcing builders is to ask other tradesmen, such as, plumbers and electricians if they would recommend anyone as it’s likely that they’ll have worked with builders before. Add those builders to your list.
Look at boards at building sites. Once you are planning renovation work, you will begin to notice homes around you having work done. Do they have boards outside their homes? Check online for reviews and feedback. Why not knock on the door and see what the homeowner thought of the builders they used.
Do background checks
From this list you can check to see if these builders are on ratedpeople.com or trustatrader.com. If they are, what reviews do they have on there?
Do your builders have recognised qualifications? Do they belong to trade organisations? The more established and reputable builders will take their trade seriously and will belong to the appropriate bodies.
Ask the right questions
Contact those on your shortlist and discuss the details of your project. Ask them questions such as: when they might be available to fit you in; what type of relevant past experience they have; roughly how long the project will take to complete and if they able to provide any references.
Ask them to meet at your property to talk through your ideas. You’ll be surprised how many may fall off your list at this point.
How to decide which one is the right builder
Transparency and clarity on both sides is paramount, if you want the job to go smoothly. Here is a checklist of things you should find out before committing to any builder.
Do you have a written document scoping out the project?
All good builders will clearly detail what the project entails and what they will be doing as part of the build process. Don’t worry about being picky, it’s important that you make sure that everything is covered as you don’t want misunderstandings later down the road when your budget begins to lessen.
Check that any work undertaken by sub-contractors is covered in the scope of work too, as well as their costs.
Make sure you know where the builder is buying his materials from for the job. Ask for receipts and keep a written record throughout the course of the work.
Agree how payments are to be made, e.g. after certain stages are completed. Make sure that you retain a decent percentage back that should be paid upon completion. Disreputable builders may move on to other jobs towards the end of your project if there is little financial incentive on their behalf. Also check that VAT is included in their quote.
Has your builder completed previous building work to the required standard, on time and within the agreed budget? Ask for references – and make sure that you personally follow them up.
Be clear from the start what their intended working hours are going to be. Good timekeeping once arrangements have been made is also a sign of reliability. Builders should only be paid for the hours worked. You won't want to pay someone who knocks off early and still charges you for a full day's labour.
Make certain the builder is fully, and correctly, insured for the job. You want to be sure that they have the appropriate cover should anything go wrong. Also check with your home insurance that your policy covers you during a building project.
Agree with your builder how long the job will take, to minimise disruption and any chance of spiralling costs.
Make sure from the start that the work your builder undertakes complies with local council regulations. Paying for the services of a Building Control Inspector can give you peace of mind as they check and sign off each stage of the build.
If you would a reliable building firm, look no further than Essex Building and Carpentry Services. Located in Romford, Essex, service clients in and around Havering, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Billericay. Call us today on 01708 578 014 to discuss your building needs.