What to consider when planning to build an extension.
16th June 2015
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With the huge costs involved in moving house, it makes sense for those who need more space to consider building an extension instead.  But what are the main points that you need to consider?

1. Check your deeds

Check your deeds just to ensure there are no clauses that limit the work you can have done to the property.  If they are unclear, then it is best to consult a solicitor (try HRJ Foreman Laws: http://www.thebestof.co.uk/local/welwyn-and-hatfield/business-guide/feature/hrj-foreman-laws-solicitors ) before spending any further money.

2. Size, design and layout

Work out how much extra space you would like?  Can the existing house be reconfigured to create this extra space?  By converting a garage or loft, for example?  Or do you need to build on the side or out back?  It is a good idea to talk to an architect who knows your local area and local planning rules to create an extension that maintains the ‘look and feel’ of your existing property.  Matching bricks, windows, roof lines and tiles help any extension blend in to the existing house and makes the likelihood of being granted planning permission much greater.  It helps keep costs down if your plans also take into account the layout of your pipes and wiring. 

3.    Neighbours

Think about your neighbours.  It is always best to talk to them at the outset - especially if they have already been trhough the process of building an extension- you can listen and learn from their experiences.  As they can object to your proposals, it can also save you lots of time and money to talk to them about initial designs.

4.    Architects

A local architect with experience of working in your area will understand what Welwyn Hatfield Council is likely to approve (or not).  The legislation regarding building regulations is complex and they are best to draft detailed building regulations drawings prior to submission.  Many will also handle the planning application process and any appeals/amendments and offer to project manage the building work for an additional cost.

5.    Planning permission

Usually an extension is considered a permitted development (within defined parameters) which means you won’t necessarily need planning permission; although a listed property or houses in conservation areas (and we have quite a few of these) will require planning permission.  As permissions vary from area to area it is a good idea to refer to the Government’s Permitted Development guidance http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/extensions as well as your local planning office in advance of any work.

6.    Building Regulations

It is usually necessary when building an extension to ensure full compliance with the Government's Building Regulations (exceptions include: a porch, conservatory or detached garage built at ground level, taking up less than 30m2 of floor space).

Building regulations set minimum standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure that they comply with health and safety rules. They also ensure certain levels of insulation and energy conservation.

A reputable builder (try RCP Contractors Ltd: http://www.thebestof.co.uk/local/welwyn-and-hatfield/business-guide/feature/rcp-contractors-ltd) will be able to help you in ensuring that your extension meets all the Building Regulations that may apply to the work, and in making sure that any inspections required are completed and work meets the construction and performance standards set by the regulations.

How to comply

Building Regulations approval is separate and additional to obtaining planning permission – and is absolutely necessary.  To ensure compliance with Building Regulations, you/your architect must submit detailed plans of the proposed extension, together with the appropriate application form and fee, to the Local Planning Authority (Welwyn Hatfield).

Building control surveyors will examine the plans to guarantee that they meet Building Regulations before approving the project. Your builders are required to notify Welwyn Hatfield Council when building work commences and at pre-determined stages of build, and inspections can be made to ensure that work, such as laying foundations, damp proofing and installing drains is carried out to the required standard. A final inspection will be made upon completion of the extension, and a certificate of completion will be issued if everything is as it should be.

Information about how Building Regulations might apply to different types of extensions can be found through the Government's Planning Portal, or via the Local Planning Authority.

7.  Builders

Choose a local builder with a good reputation – for example, one registered with the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

It is always best to get 3 quotes for your build. Make sure that all quotes are equal in what they cover and that all building supplies are included within the quote.  It is important that you feel you can work alongside and trust your builder too – so the cheapest quote isn’t always the best. Then ask your chosen builder(s) if you can talk to some of their previous customers to ensure their quality.

Once you have chosen your builder, it is essential that you sign a contract with them. The builder may provide one – and a sample contract is available on the FMB website. This contract should stipulate a timetable with a predefined completion date. If you do provide a down payment, agree to pay only for the first stage of work in advance. Once the extension is finished, make sure you are fully satisfied with the work before paying the outstanding fees.


Happy building!

About the Author

Huw T

Member since: 26th September 2014

As the owner of thebestof Welwyn and Hatfield my mission is to help local independently owned businesses to grow and community groups, charities, local sports clubs, societies to thrive. If you know a...

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