Where do I start with my extension?

You’ve made the exciting decision to extend your home and can’t wait to add more space and value! But where do you actually begin? Our handy step by step guide fills you in…breaking it down into simple steps!

Step 1 – Get planning!!!

Before you speak to any professional, draw up a list of what you actually want. Do you want a large kitchen extension or are you looking for a double storey extension? Are you incorporating a utility room or an additional bathroom? Do you want the extension to be open plan or is it just one new room?

This is the stage to pull together a rough budget and confirm how you are going to fund your extension. The budget will change as you speak to the professionals and as you choose your fittings and furnishings, but knowing the overall pot you have to work with will help making decisions along the way.

It’s also a great idea at this stage to start scoping out what products you like. Visit kitchen showrooms, research bi-folding doors or look at the style of bathroom you would like. Also understanding lead times will help with the builders timings.

Step 2 – Speak to a professional

We all immediately think that we should turn to an architect to draw up the plans, but there are a whole range of professionals that can help depending on the scale of your project. Think about the following:

If you don’t need help with planning permission AND have a clear idea of what you want…

If you know for certain that you don’t need planning permission AND have a clear idea of the design of your extension, a structural engineer can complete the drawings for building regulations. This will save you a considerable amount on architects fees!

Speak to your local planning office for guidance on whether you need planning permission.

If you need help with planning permission AND have an idea of what you want…

If you are planning a straightforward extension or have a clear design brief, then an architectural technologist will be able to do all of the plans and completion of the project for you.

You will likely save money by working directly with an architectural technologist rather than an ARB registered architect, so this is great news if you already have a design brief or you are planning a straightforward project.

If you need help with planning permission AND design inspiration…

If you need some inspiration on your project, or want a real design makeover, an ARB registered architect will be the best place to go to!

Most architects and architectural technologists will work with a structural engineer to complete the building regulations calculations and drawings too. If you need more detail on which professional to use, check out our handy article!

Remember – there is no law requiring you to work with an architect or architectural technologist on your renovation or to submit planning permission, however there will be so many benefits including a smoother planning application, removing the paperwork hassle and a greater eye for design and structural detail!

Step 3 – Apply for the necessary permissions

An architect or your chosen professionial will normally apply for all of the permissions for you, but you can do this yourself to save money. The main permissions to cover are below –  note that this is not conclusive and rules can vary within the UK, so always check with your local planning office.

Step 4 – Find a builder

Make sure you have the drawings and are happy with them before you invite builders to quote. You need the building regulations plans for the builder to work off of and for the builder to give you a fair quote, so make sure you don’t waste their time or your own.

Finding a fantastic builder is, in our view, the most important part of your project! Not only do you want the work to be of the best quality but you are likely to be almost living with your builder for at least a few months, so make sure you find someone who you trust and comes highly recommended. And not recommended just once – speak to a few of their previous clients.

Visit our great article on 7 questions to ask a builder before you start your project to help with the builder preparation and selection!

Step 5 – Get started!!!

You have done the hard work and the excellent prep means you can focus on the build!

Our other tips!

  • Don’t forget to chat to your neighbours early on in the process. You need them on side and letting them know that you are planning an extension in the next 6-12 months will help when you need to chat through planning permission!
  • Be as organised as possible and don’t leave decisions until the last minute. Don’t wait until the builder is applying pressure to make the last minute decisions on fittings…you are likely to make a decision that you will regret!
  • Do not rush into anything. Even if you are desperate, going with a builder because they are the cheapest or available immediately may be the wrong decision in the long run!
  • Decide what is important in your extension! We all want everything to be high end but you will need to make some compromises. If you want the expensive flooring, can you go with a cheaper kitchen? Think of the levers in your budget that you can pull so you don’t blow your budget.