Today, with house prices at a premium, more and more people are building extensions. This can be a useful way to create extra space when you have a baby on the way, want to start working from home, or simply feel that your existing living space has become too crowded. It might be a two-storey structure that creates two extra rooms, or it might be something as simple as a conservatory or old-fashioned orangery, but it will add to the value of your home and make it considerably more comfortable to live in. The important thing is to make sure that you build it well.
The importance of planning
Every building project starts with a plan. You will normally need an architect to draw this up properly for you, but if you have already got a good idea of what you want, then this will make things cheaper and will speed up the process of applying for planning permission. You should bear in mind that this can take a few months to come through, and the work will usually go faster (potentially saving you more money) if it is done in summer, when there are less likely to be delays due to adverse weather conditions. Bear in mind the following tips when drawing up your own basic plan.
Choose the right location
Where do you want your new extension to be? In most homes, you will have to go through another room to get to it, so make sure that this won’t reduce the usefulness of that room. Usually, it is easiest to attach it to the living room or kitchen. Think about what you will be losing in terms of outdoor space, and think about the light. Will you be cutting off southern exposure for your garden, for instance? Will your extension block your neighbours’ light or spoil their view?
Choose a style to suit your home
Designing an extension in the same style as your original home is not just an aesthetic consideration, but will also make it easier to get planning permission, and will reduce the risk of your home actually losing value because of its appearance. If you want to bring in elements of a different style, you should talk to an architect to find a way of incorporating them without creating problems. If all you are looking for is a conservatory, you will find that there are now styles available to suit most types of building.
Think about temperature control
If you are getting a conservatory, you will need to design it with proper ventilation in place so that it does not overheat when the sun shines through the glass in summer. Every type of extension is vulnerable to getting cold in winter, so you will need to make sure that you have adequate insulation in the walls, windows and roof.
Think about light
The best window arrangement for your extension will depend on its location and what you intend to use it for, but the trade-off with a room like this is generally between insulation and light. One way to resolve this is to use double or triple glazing, whilst another is to fit tier-on-tier shutters, which work in a similar way, trapping a layer of air to prevent heat from escaping. They also have the advantage of making the room more secure.
Know when to get help
There are many aspects of your design that you can develop yourself, and if your insurers are happy with your skills, you can even do some of the building yourself. There will be times when you need to get professional help, however, and this is an area where you should always play it safe. Although you may be hesitant to spend more money, the last thing you want is to discover a problem after the build is complete, and have to spend a lot more in order to fix it.
What happens next?
Once your extension is complete, it will need to be approved by the buildings inspector before you can start using it. This can be quite nerve-wracking because of the potential cost if something has gone wrong, but the vast majority of such constructions are approved, especially if they have been well planned.
When you have approval, you can begin decorating your new space and moving furniture into it. You will experience some of the excitement of having a new home without the stress of having to move, and having that extra space can transform your day-to-day life.