Building an extension to your home can be a great way to get the space and mod-cons that you want without having the expenses and hassles of selling your home and finding a new one. Many smart home owners are also choosing to build an extension as a way to add value to their home. In this guide to building a home extension we explore the pro's and cons of extending your home, address common home extension issues, and seek to lay out the general process to follow when extending your home.
Why extending your home can save you money
Whilst building a new home or buying a new home can seem like the perfect way to live in the house that you've always dreamt of many people forget to take into account the hidden costs. These costs can include:
What needs to be considered before a home extension
There are many things that should to be considered in detail before you start a home extension. We will run you through the process such as designs, planning applications, hiring a builder, general costs, etc. However, firstly you should really take time to understand the fundamental reason why you are building a home extension and what you wish to achieve. Some questions that might spark some thoughts are:
Designing a Home Renovation
When designing a home renovation it is key to consider the 'look and feel' of the existing home. Look at what features of your existing home are the most prominent. Look closely at the shape and structure of your roof, look at what building materials have been used in the current home and try to use similar materials for continuity. Also, take into consideration how you might match up new doors and new windows with those in your current home.
You should also have a first opinion on whether you wish to extend just the ground floor of your home or add a second story. Adding a second story can be much more complicated and requires an even stronger understanding of your homes structure.
What will the Home Extension cost?
Many home owners make the mistake of rushing off to a builder to ask for quotes on what the home extension will cost at this early stage of their preparations. This is a mistake as builders require in depth building plans to provide you with an accurate price. Builders are often frustrated by home owners that want quotes when they only have a vague idea of the size and scope of the home extension.
Instead it is best to work with an architect or a draftsman in developing detailed plans for your home extension, and obtain a building permit before asking builders to quote on a home extension. Builders will be much more interested in doing your home extension if you have plans and permits when you meet with you. Consequently, builders may be more competitive in wanting to win your work and thus saving you money with more competitive quotes.
If you need a vague idea of the cost of extending the home, architects are often able to provide you with a broad estimate of how much the type of home extension that you're asking for should cost you.
Hiring an architect
Once you have a broad understanding how you would like to extend the house it is time to visit an architect to start putting together detailed designs to obtain a planning permit from the local council as well as preparing detailed specifications for the builder you choose.
Architects also offer valuable advice on how to best utilise the space at your disposal as well as what can and what cannot be done in extending your home. Many architects can also act as a project manager to oversee the building of your home extension if you so wish at an additional cost.
The easiest way to find a local architect is to list a job request with Service Central. By posting a job with Service Central specifying that you require a local architect to draw up plans for your home extension you will receive calls from local architects available and interested in working with you.
Obtaining a Planning Permit
You should not undertake a major home renovation before consulting your local council and receiving a planning permit. So working closely with your local council is a fundamental part of extending your home. However, council will not provide you with a permit if you don't meet their regulations and/or your neighbours complain about the nature of your home extension. With this in mind, it is always recommended that you consult your neighbours when developing your ideas as to how you are going to extend your home.
Consulting your neighbours early in the process can help them air any misgivings in regards to your home extension ideas. If you play your cards right, neighbours can also be a good source of ideas and tips for your home renovation. Many will have stories of home extensions gone wrong, or ideas of how you can best maximise your homes space. Working closely with your neighbours is also a good way to save money as neighbours objecting to your home extensions can delay you getting a planning permit and add additional legal costs to the whole process.
Finding the right builder
Extending your home is a major project and a significant investment on your behalf. It is important that you choose your builder wisely, finding a builder that specialises in the type of home extension that your home requires. Service Central simplifies this process by making it easy to find local builders that are available and interested in completing your home extension project. Simply list a job with Service Central requesting 3 quotes and local builders will call you.
When meeting with each builder it is important that you have your plans and permits on hand. This will provide the builders with detailed specifications of what you require, and also help you ensure that each builder quotes to the specifications thus giving you a chance to compare apples with apples.
In choosing a builder you should ask about their experience in completing similar home extensions to yours, and in working with the types of building materials that you will be using in your home extension. You should definitely ask for photos and testimonials, and if you have used Service Central you should review their feedback from other consumers thoroughly. You should also ensure that you have witnessed their builders licence and insurance details before you hire them.
Having found the right builder for you, you should then write up and sign a detailed building contract. This contract should include a detailed specification and scope of works defining exactly what they will be undertaking. Similarly, it should include a timetable with a pre-determined completion date as well as a payment schedule of payment upon completion of certain stages.
Bonus tips for your home extension project