Who better to put an extension on your house than the current residents – you! You know how the light changes through the year, the beautiful apple tree in the garden that keeps the kitchen cool in the summer, the best views of the garden, and how you use space throughout the house.
You also know that in the winter you sometimes want to continue your journey through the house, out the door in the garden – and that’s the first sign that an extension would be right for you and your family.
Knowing this you decide to start planning on an extension but you aren’t quite sure where to start before investing your hard won financing on the site. Below are a few options to where you can find space in your house and garden.
What should I know before starting an extension?
There are many different factors to consider when thinking about an extension, and you should contact a professional before starting this work. A few things to keep in mind are:
- Site insurance – when you are building you will need a specific type of coverage that will protect you for what can go wrong on a building site.
- Avoid through rooms – consulting with an architect will help you avoid this, but you want to make sure that the extension has it’s own hallway access. The danger of having access through another room is that it will become a glorified hallway and closet, negating any extra space you gain by adding the extension.
- Make your conservatory part of your home – think about adding a conservatory, or changing the structure of your existing space to make it more in-line with the home.
- Balance the bathrooms – Although you may be able to squeeze two new bedrooms in to the extension, you should be careful; if they don’t have easy access to a bathroom in the main home then the ‘value’ of these bedrooms will decrease.
- Know the building regulations – Make sure you know what you can and cannot do before starting work. Again, speaking to a professional will make sure you keep in line with up-to-date regulations and rules.
- Ignore the walls – Many walls can be removed to make the flow of living easier. When thinking about an extension make sure to keep in mind different parts of the house it can extend from. Thinking creatively can open up many new possibilities.
- A quotation or estimate – these are two very different things. An estimate is an educated guess about how much the work will cost, and could go higher as the work progresses. A quote is the exact amount the project will cost. Make sure it is itemised and includes VAT so that there are no nasty surprises at the end of the work.
- Mind the room size – You may be tempted to subdivide a bedroom in to two spaces, but be careful on the suggested minimum sizes for rooms as you can see in the chart below.
FUNCTION OF ROOM
|Bathroom and WC||3.6m²|
|Bathroom only||2.8m² (or 1m² of circ.)|
|Hallways and landings||900mm width|
Where can I add space?
Built it in your garden
The most straightforward extension is to build in to the garden. This will immediately add extra space to living and dining rooms, and also, if you make it two stories, can add extra bedrooms.
Looking into the loft
If you do not want to extend out, why not extend up? An loft conversion can take unused space in the eaves of your house, and convert it in to living space. Before you get carried away thinking “I can put a floor down right now and turn it in to a bedroom” you need to keep in mind some important considerations about converting an loft:
- How you will get up there – if you want the loft to be a useable space you need to have permanent stairs to get up there. If they don’t exist right now, where will they go? Will they cut off a section of a downstairs room making it unusable?
- How is the roof supported – before even considering this renovation get up in to the loft with a flashlight and look closely at the beams that are supporting the roof. If they form a W shape then it is probably easier and cheaper to build an extension. However if the supports are in the shape of an A, with liveable space underneath, then you could have a prime candidate for a room.
- Is there enough headroom – Building codes in the UK state that the minimum floor-to-ceiling height is 2.1m for over 50% of the floor area. When looking at the area keep in mind that layers of insulation to get the roof up to code could be up to 60mm thick, with flooring being 20-40mm. If you are set on converting this space you can always raise the roof height or lower the floor below.
- How well will the space be lit – An unconverted loft will generally not have any natural light coming in to the space (unless the previous owners had ambitious, but forgotten plans). You will need to consider where skylights can be put in, or whether you will need to change the shape of the roof to create a window with access in case of a fire (some regulations require this).
- What is the temperature? – speak to an expert to get accurate costs for insulation, rerouting vents, and keeping the space warm in the winter.
- Will the floor hold weight – depending on the structure of the floor, it may be need to be reinforced.
- Check out the plumbing – if the plan is to have a full bedroom with ensuite then you need to make sure the plumbing can easily be rerouted up to the
Burrow into the basement
Although many houses in the UK do not have a cellar, if you are lucky to have one there are options to convert this space without using up the volume allocated to you under planning permission rights.
You are also generally allowed to add lights and external access without planning permission, but make sure to check with your local council before you begin this work. Either way all work must comply with the ‘Basements for Dwellings 2000’ approved document (www.basements.org.uk).#
Converting existing space can cost between £1,000-1,500m² providing there is enough headroom to pass regulations on room height. To create a basement under an existing property can cost between £3,000-£4,000m². This cost does not generally match the benefits for anyone living outside of incredibly dense regions where it would be more difficult to add an extension.