Planning an extension

There's much to consider when planning an extension to your property. It's certainly a major project, and needs to be treated as such with logical steps taken to make sure things run smoothly and on budget.

Why an extension?

What issues will the extension solve? Do you need it to provide some home office space or bathroom facilities? Thinking ahead: will the proposed structure meet your needs for the long term? If it may not, then perhaps building a larger one now might be a good idea - for example opting for a two-storey extension as opposed to a single-storey type.

There's nothing worse than going to the expense of building an extension only to have to build again in the next few years when you run out of room. Think through your immediate and likely future requirements carefully.

Design considerations

You'll need a design professional, but you should give plenty of thought to the general look you're after in your extension before approaching someone. Think in terms of the roof structure and brickwork complementing the existing property, the type of rooms you'd like and the facilities - will there be a bathroom? Just a shower room? A kitchen?

Appointing an architect

An architect will be able to take your general design ideas and requirements and convert them into a proper blueprint for your extension. They'll know about planning, likely building regulations and - if a local professional - will likely have a good understanding of how your local authority's planning department works.

Their design will enable your builder to provide an accurate qutation and plan their work properly.

Project management (if applicable)

If you'd like someone to oversee the whole project, then your architect will likely be able to take on the role of project manager throughout the whole undertaking if you wish. They will charge more of course.

Planning permission

Once your architect has finished their design, or designs if they (with your approval) consider it appropriate to provide variations to combat possible planning objections, you'll almost certainly need planning permission for your extension.

By now you may have lined up a builder to do the work - or at least had a firm quote for the project based on your architect's plan (see below for more on this) so you'll know what your extension will look like and what it will cost.

When plans have been submitted, your local authority considers the design of your extension, puts your plans on the public planning register and notifies your neighbours so they can look over your proposals and raise any objections if they have any. The process can take around eight weeks.

If there are any objections to your extension, then you can re-submit amended designs within a certain time frame based on the local authority's recommendations. This is why your architect may have suggested drawing up more than one design.

Once approval has been given, it's usually valid for five years.

Building regulations

You'll require these to make sure your proposed structure meets official guidelines. This is where your builder will play a part as they should be able to handle this for you and liaise with your local planning authority.

They will also liaise with building control officers throughout the project who will periodically visit to ensure the work is being undertaken properly, and give it a final inspection when the extension is completed.

Finding a builder

This can fill people with dread if they don't know of a trustworthy building firm. Grim stories of cowboy contractors and builders vanishing half way through a job abound, but if you observe a few basics you should be able to choose wisely:

  • Are they established? How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have customer testimonials you can examine?
  • Are there examples of their work you can view locally?
  • Can you discuss your extension ideas and get a full quote for free and under no obligation?
  • Will they handle the entire project or do you have to enlist other contractors such as electricians, plumbers and tilers?
  • Are they totally familiar and willing to handle building regulations applications and the ongoing requirements?
  • Do they guarantee their work?

Take your time as choosing a builder is very important. Price will naturally be a factor in your choice, but do consider the credentials of the firm you use for what is a very important investment in your property.

As established and trusted builders with many years experience in building extensions throughout the Portsmouth area, you can talk to us with confidence. We'd be more than happy to advise and provide a free quotation based on your architect's plans so you'll know exactly what is involved.

If we can help please call on 023 9383 8191.

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