Extending your home or loft is one of the best ways to increase space and add value to your property. With all the hassle and costs of moving to a new house, from legal fees and stamp duty to consider the reasons to improve your existing home rather than moving soon add up. But where to start?
Whether you’re thinking of a garage conversion, side extension, double or single-storey rear extension, there is a lot to take into consideration. To help get you started, RJL Builders of Sunbury-on-Thames will take you through some pointers on planning rules, building regulations and how best to keep your neighbours on-side from the start.
What to consider before you start:
Will your plans really add value?
As with any big home improvement project, it is worth checking your plans before you get started. Unless money is no object, it is always worth checking with a local estate agent whether your plans will add the value to your property that you seek. There are many local estate agents in Sunbury-on-Thames and the surrounding areas which should be able to help with this. It is also worth checking brought and sold prices of similar properties nearby which may have carried out similar projects.
Permitted development and planning permission
You can undertake some extension projects without the need for planning permission, referred to as your “permitted development rights”.
Under these rules, the rear wall of a detached home can be extended by 8 meters to the rear if it is a single storey property, and 3 meters if it is double-storey. This is reduced to 6 meters in a semi-detached or terraced house. You will also need to take into consideration the size of your garden.
There are also height restrictions, for example, a single storey extension not being higher than 4 meters in height to the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension not being higher than the existing property. Double-storey extensions mustn’t be closer than 7 meters to the rear boundary.
There are other conditions that must be taken into consideration, for example, if the extension is more than half the area of land around the original house, you will need planning permission. Extensions in most cases must be built with matching materials to your existing property. All councils offer a free online portal so take a look to see the current rules in your area.
Different planning rules will also apply if your home is in a Conservation Area and for any renovations to a Listed Property, you will need to obtain listed building consent.
Whether or not planning permission is required, all renovation projects must comply with building regulations. We work very closely with the relevant local building control offices for Sunbury on Thames and Walton-upon-Thames, which are Spelthorne and Elmbridge building control to ensure all works undertaken conform with their strict guidelines. This takes away any extra stress for our customers. We always ensure that all our contractors can self-certify the work they do and are registered with the appropriate industry bodies for their trade. For example, FENSA window fitters, Gas Safe registered gas engineers and NICEIC registered electricians. We make sure all this is done for our customers’ peace of mind but also, so you don’t have trouble selling your property when you eventually move.
Your insurance provider
Before starting a big project it’s important that you contact your home and contents insurance provider to let them know of your plans. An extension or loft conversion will increase the rebuild cost of your house. Insurance providers take this into account when pricing premiums. If you don’t let your insurer know and there is a problem with the property at some point you may find your policy is void. Your insurer will let you know if your current policy will cover the new extension or loft conversion. This may increase your premium, but it is better to have this in place before you start works.
For added peace of mind, we at RJL Builders are covered by over five million pounds worth of Builders Insurance and public liability.
Building projects can be a big cause of disputes between neighbours. When planning permission is required, your neighbours will be consulted by the local planning authority. This means your neighbours will be sent a letter about your plans. We always recommend speaking to neighbours about your plans well in advance of this happening. As much as we do our best to keep noise and disruption to a minimum during any build some is inevitable. We always find neighbours who have been informed well in advance are always more meanable. We have used this to our advantage in Sunbury recently where we needed access to the neighbouring properties to carry out external works.
Party Wall Act
A party wall is the shared wall, usually between a mid-terrace or semi-detached house; it divides the two homes. It also includes garden walls built over a boundary and any excavations close to a neighbour’s property. Usually, this will be between three and six metres depending on the depth of any new foundations.
Party Wall Agreements between neighbours are most commonly needed for loft conversions and extensions which require the insertion of steel supports, a damp-proof course and or digging of new foundations. This is another reason for speaking to neighbours about your plans. And is always very important to have in place before work commences to avoid any hold-ups. A written agreement is always best with yours and your neighbours’ signature. This is something RJL Builders can take care of for you.
Designing an extension
Finding an architect
Depending on the scale of your project, you may need to involve an architect. There’s no law saying you need to use an architect, but we strongly advise you do. large renovations, Loft conversions and extensions run a lot smoother when everyone can agree on a plan, which is made a lot easier with the use of professionally drawn plans. However, this is another expense to take into consideration. We can recommend some great architects we have used in the past both in Sunbury on Thames and Hampton.
Setting a budget
When setting a budget for your project start by making a list of everything you would like to include (bear in mind the cost of a two-story extension is not that different to a single-story structure as a lot of the cost is in the foundations). Compare your quotes item by item and when pricing services and materials always check the VAT is included in the costs.