Building advice

Before starting the building work

You will probably now have made the decision of not moving for more space, instead opting to improve your current home instead. So, first thing’s first, no matter whether you’re building a conservatory or extending one of the floors, make sure you get the necessary planning permission and Building Regulations approval. This needs to be done before you start work.

There is a law whereby permitted development is allowed, but this varies from region to region and it’s always best to contact your local council.

Remember, if you live in a conservation area or listed building then planning permission is a must.

Also it’s worth pointing out that any planning permission acceptance is not the same as receiving Building Regulations approval and vice versa. Each is a separate regulation and needs to meet its own set standards.

It’s recommended to speak with your neighbours too so any problems can be ironed out. The last thing you want is neighbours blocking your proposals and suggesting they would interfere with their lifestyle. This could include blocking out light and overlooking the garden.

Be sure to look at the title deeds as well in case there are any restrictive covenants that may prevent work from going ahead. If you’re in any doubt or unclear on a situation, ensure to contact a solicitor.

Another pointer is to bring your proposals to the mortgage lender and home insurer because this would affect agreements and payments in place.
Extending your home

If you have some space in your garden then an extension can make a massive difference to your home. This will increase both the size of your property and its value.

By adding this extra space to your home, you could in fact find it’s cheaper than relocating, simply because there are no hidden costs such as estate agent fees, solicitor payments and stamp duty. Of course, then there are the extras such as removal services.

Another option is converting the space in your home. It’s a little known fact, but as much as 30% of your home’s floor space is located in the loft. And quite often your loft is unused and wasted space. Essentially it’s an ideal part of your home for development.

With the basic structure in place, you will find this a cheaper option to extending outwards and you’re not eating up valuable garden space either. And research shows that adding a bedroom ensuite in the loft can increase property value up to 20%.

If you’re considering a loft conversion then there are a few things to check before speaking with an architect and planning the design:

  • That there is no wet or dry rot which will need curing before the conversion
  • That the loft is large enough for a conversion (three metres between the main purlins, the horizontal beams that support the rafters, on each side of the roof)
  • That the loft is free from bats, which are protected by law so you need appropriate advice

Extending downwards

If your home has a cellar then this is the perfect area for conversion and for professionals is a fairly straight forward procedure. Extending your home in this way can even add between 20% and 30% to your home’s value.

As with any extension, there needs to be proper waterproofing, heating and ventilation for any basement conversion and Gas Safe engineers should only work on gas fittings.

No matter whether you need planning permission, Building Regulations must be followed relating to:

  • Damp proofing
  • Electrical wiring
  • Fire escape routes
  • Ventilation
  • Water supplies.

There is also the Party Wall Act 1996 to consider, which relates to work on:

  • Any party wall
  • Excavations
  • Areas within three metres of a neighbour’s property
  • Depth greater than the bottom of your neighbour’s foundations.

With any work that’s to be carried out on the home you should inform your neighbours, especially if it will directly affect their lives. This will help you avoid any complications if you iron out their concerns before filing for permission.

Building advice
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Tom Crosswell

I have been managing online projects since 1999 and I’m a experienced marketeer, who is well versed in international brand management, online business strategy and developing long term relationships. Through my academic and professional background I am a specialist in generating online loyalty towards brands. My experience has taught me that ultimately business is about relationships and people. For more information see my Google+ page.