An extension can add some much-needed roominess to your home. Depending on the kind of structure you choose, it can also provide a specialist space for interests that aren’t really suited to the rest of your house. A light, airy conservatory or lantern-roofed orangery is perfect for the green-fingered gardening enthusiast rearing up those delicate seedlings or sensitive exotic blooms, while a more solid structure can become a cozy home office, a rumpus room for the kids or a home gym where you can finally set up those exercise machines. When the time comes to move on, your extension can also boost the selling price of your property.
Photo By MarkyBon
Yet what should be an investment in your home can all too often become a costly disappointment. Unsatisfactory construction, delays, interference from local planning authorities and unforeseen expenses that push you over budget can turn dream dens and into a nightmare. Here’s how to avoid those pitfalls and ensure that construction goes smoothly, from the first sketches right up to the last potted plant.
Tip 1: The Devil is in the Detail
You can never over-plan for your new extension. Make sure that your plans include every single feature — not just the dimensions and materials but the windows, doors, light-fittings, power lines, plumbing, flooring and anything else that forms a part of your proposed structure. The more you fine-tune your plans now, the less you’re likely to forget something that can’t easily be added or rectified later on.
Tip 2: Obtain Permission before Putting Up
Don’t just cross your fingers and hope that your extension will be within the bounds of acceptability for your neighbors, your local authorities and other interested parties. Nothing creates friction between residents like major construction, especially if they’re not informed of your plans ahead of time. If your extension isn’t deemed acceptable by the powers that be in your area, you may end up in legal hot water. Depending on the regulations and laws in your area, you might be forced to pay a fine, scale back your cherished designs — or even demolish your newly-built extension altogether.
Tip 3: Don’t Try to Do Everything Yourself
Even if you’re skilled in construction, putting up an extension is a major undertaking. Those who’ve never built anything more substantial than a plywood CD rack would definitely be well advised to call in some expert help.
Tip 4: Choose Your Contractors Wisely.
When hiring building contractors to work on your extension, don’t just pick the first name out of the telephone directory or go with whoever gives you the lowest quote. Find out what professional bodies exist in your region which certify building contractors; the local council can help you with this. Ideally, you should get quotes from at least three different companies; this will give you a good general idea of the going rate for the work you want done. Be sure to ask for references and to follow these up.
Tip 5: Avoid Surprise: Itemize
Remember back in the planning stages, when you listed every single possible element that your extension requires? You need to go over this list with your contractors before any work starts. Make sure you know exactly what each item will cost, as well as getting the grand total. As well as ensuring that your bill doesn’t contain any nasty shocks, this will help identify areas where you could economize.
Tip 6: Don’t Take Finance For Granted
Whether you’re in the happy position of being able to pay cash for your extension or plan on borrowing what you need, you must ensure that you have the financial side of your project well in hand before you start work. The point at which you’ve taken out a rear wall and your garden is a pile of unsightly rubble is not a good time to discover that your bank won’t give you that home improvement loan after all.