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Guide to Designing a House Extension 2017-07-28T12:45:18+00:00

Guide to Designing a House Extension

If you’ve already gone through the process of planning a house extension you are now at the fun part: planning what your extension will look like, how many rooms it will have, what interior and exterior features will it have, how will it be decorated and the key question of whether or not you should move out while your extension is being built?

building a house extensionThis Guide covers the design activities that need to be planned before building a house extension:

Designing a House Extension
Architects
Builders and Tradesmen
Heating and Utilities
Do you stay onsite or offsite during building?

Designing a House Extension

There are various options when it comes to house extension design. Designing your own is an attractive idea but you would need to seek advice from a structural engineer and possibly an architect at some stage to ensure Health and Safety obligations are met, that the design translates well to the build process.

Design options to consider:

  • You could reconfigure your existing living space rather than create new space.
  • Instead of building outwards you could build upwards with an extra storey.
  • The extension’s style could either contrast or complement your existing home’s style.
  • While some conservatories don’t need planning permission and are exempt from Building regulations, sunrooms can be connected to the rest of the house and not separated by external doors as conservatories are required to be.
  • Create the feeling of more space with a vaulted ceiling.
  • A new outdoor space such as a verandah, loggia or modified area under an overhanging roof is an alternative if you just want somewhere to sit and relax.
  • If you have a large garden or grounds consider building an annex. Out buildings are often more manageable and better for providing space for hobbies.
  • Explore available building materials. Wood looks great but can be expensive whereas there is a huge range of cladding options that can simulate wood.
  • Be sure to make the best use of available light. Consider where the sun sets and rises in relation to the extension and where and when you would get the most light.

Remember, if you are planning an extension to a listed building or your home is in a Conservation Area you should consult a professional designer or architect to ensure compliance.

Architects

House Extension Dining RoomThe scale of your house extension can determine who you get to draw up the plans. Small extensions may only require someone who has some architectural studies under their belt but who isn’t full qualified. For larger extensions or extensions to buildings which are either listed or in Conservation Areas you will need a qualified architect.

The following bodies can provide contact information for house designers and architects who are qualified appropriately: Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland or Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists.

Builders and Tradesmen

Choosing a builder and tradesmen to create and project manage your dream extension is one of the most important stages. Some companies provide house extension design and building services who will take care of all the day-to-day project managing and building tasks.

You can source separate companies to manage each aspect of the build which can include builders, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, drainage engineers and roofers.This can be very time consuming and difficult to coordinate.

new house extensionAll trades companies are exactly that; the one company provides all the tradesmen you need to get the job managed and completed from start to finish. They provide a continuity to the whole process, are used to communicating quickly and clearly which can save time and money when negotiating potentially tricky parts of the build or sourcing materials, they can work through the logical sequence of tasks efficiently and you only have one point of contact for all status updates and troubleshooting.

Whether you choose separate tradesmen or an all trades company always ask the following:

  • Are they accredited with trade organisations such as Gas Safe, CHAS, NICEIC and SNIPEF?
  • Are they well established and experienced and not fly-by-nights?
Are they well recommended by their previous customers?
  • Is all their work insured?
  • Can they provide a free, no obligation, fully detailed quote for a fixed price?

Heating and Utilities

Building your extension is one thing but you need to ensure it functions as well as the rest as you house. You can seek advice on heating requirements from a qualified heating engineer who will advise on the best type of heating you need and where and if your existing boiler is adequate.

Electricity will certainly need to be added and you should ask a qualified electrician to assess your needs. The existing house circuits could be extended into the new space or it may be more cost effective and time saving to add a new circuit especially if your extension includes a kitchen or utility room.

Do you stay onsite or offsite during building?

This depends on whether the builders will need access to areas of your house that you use often. For example, if your extension is being added to your kitchen you will obviously need to move out. You do not want to get impeded the builders if you can help it as the more you are in the way the more time the project will take.

house extension buildersHowever, this is not always possible especially for families with children, the elderly or infirm. One cheap solution is to stay in a rented caravan in your garden if you have the space but if not there may be a caravan park nearby. A costlier option is to rent a flat or some rooms. Consult with your builder about the types of access they need and for how long before you commit to booking rooms for the duration of the project. Of course, any accommodation costs should be factored into the budget for the extension project.

If you do move out while your house extension is being built it is a good idea not to stay too far away as you will want to keep an eye on progress and be on hand to answer any questions the builders might have.

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