Avoiding Common Mistakes
Before you start any works it helps to be aware of the most common mistakes so you can help avoid the same pitfalls.
Submitting plans for planning approval can be a long process. However some extensions or additions to your home are considered to be permitted development and subject to limits and conditions you will not require an application for planning permission only building regulations. It’s worth discussing your options with your architect.
The builder will probably have given you a program or a timescale for the work, and as much as he will try to stick to this, a number of projects can take longer than anticipated. This is due to unforeseen circumstances that can only be found once works start and also the weather can sometimes hinder certain works. Being aware of this from the very beginning can help to avoid stress.
It’s not until you start digging that you know the true conditions of your ground and the strip foundations your builder has quoted for might not be adequate. If you have poor ground your building control officer could insist on piled foundations which would be a large additional cost you were not expecting. Therefore it’s best to do some investigation works before you start. If your neighbour has had an extension it’s always a good idea to ask if they had any issues as the likelihood is yours will be the same.If you want to be really sure a bore hole is the best way to test your ground. This is a small hole to the depth of 10m which will give you the true conditions of what the spoil is like under your feet. From experience soil can vary enormously and we have found that having a suitable site investigation carried out initially can often lead to a project cost saving in the long term as we are able to foresee problems before we start.
Running out of money
Get fixed quotes where possible. If you have chosen a good builder your quote will have a detailed breakdown of everything included so you know what you are getting for your money. Make sure you have a contingency fund in place (around 10% of the total build cost). As much as your builder will want to keep to his quote you have to be prepared for additional costs that are unavoidable. It’s not until you start digging or opening up walls that you know what you are going to find.
Having an extension built is a big decision and a costly one so it’s important you get it right but changes to plans once the project is underway could result in delays and additional costs. We all change our minds but it is important to try and get everything planned and designed how you want before the project starts.
Be prepared for mess.
Building work is dirty! When breaking through from the existing house, this is where things can get messy and, if you are still going to be living in the house, you should start sealing yourself off from the mess as much as possible. Communicate with your builder before works start as to how this transaction is doing to take place. Know when you will be without waters or heating and for how long. Then you can prepare for these times.
Something else to think about is the provision of toilets, you might think you are will be ok with tradesmen using your facilities, but you may change your mind after weeks of having builders traipsing in and out of your already disrupted home with muddy boots and dusty clothes. Some contractors will provide their own portable toilets, but be aware these costs are likely to be passed onto you in your quote.Tip: To help save on costs you could arrange for a portable toilet to be provided during the messy works, for example while foundations are being dug and while your builder is working in mud. Then once your extension is water tight and your builder is working inside, the area will be much cleaner.
Choosing Bad Tradesmen
Chose a tradesman based on previous work, testimonials, accreditations and trusted recommendations – not the cheapest quote. You want the job done once and done right! Don’t let your project turn into a series of arguments and let downs. It is important to communicate with your builder to avoid any unnecessary conflict.
When adding bedrooms you may also want to consider adding a bathroom, or a shower room. If you are having four bedrooms or more, you will need more than one bathroom — otherwise future buyers could be put off the house.
Windows & Light
If you are trying to build an extension that matches the original building, then match the windows exactly, uPVC will not look right next to timber. Likewise, consider the impact that the new extension will have on the existing windows and light. Although extensions can create a lot more space they can also make existing rooms darker so it’s important to add new light back in which could be in the form of velux windows or roof lanterns.
There is lots you can do to ensure that each stage of your project gets completed with minimal fuss. Make sure you are in regular communication with your builders about what is happening and,what will be happening next.