Spending more time at home in recent years has been a necessity rather than a choice. The forced period of, what some would call, imprisonment has had an array of unexpected impacts on society. An increased realization that our living spaces are not suited to the modern demands we place on them is just one of these.
What we require from our homes has changed for numerous reasons, including an influx of employees working from spare rooms and kitchens. The shutdown of hospitality over the last two years, as well as the subsequent increase in costs for those wishing to socialize over a meal and drinks, has also initiated a change.
Many homeowners now crave flexibility based on these factors, including extra space to work and entertain. Typically older British homes are made up of larger bedrooms and living room areas, demands of the modern mortgage payer are moving in the opposite direction. For many, once the lack of suitability of their current home sets in there is one option, move home, however even that has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The use of the Stamp Duty holiday to keep the UK housing market afloat was largely successful, almost to its own detriment. Avoiding this tax heavy fee, coupled with many realizing their homes weren’t offering what they need, pushed the market in the opposite direction. The resulting outcome was an accelerating market that has still not fully settled almost two years later. Moving six months previous could mean you lost out on £10,000s as the house prices continued to increase.
A knock-on effect as we sit in 2022, for many, is entrapment. Prices are still too high and demand means many properties are still selling above their list price. This has left a portion of the British public stuck in limbo, with no home move-in sight anytime soon and stuck where they are facing the shortcomings of their current house.
An alternative that many have turned to is digging in even deeper and adapting their home to their needs. The use of remodeling and even extending their property seems a safer bet, providing they have the money and space to utilize their vision. Adding an extension comes with its own headaches, but adds permanent value to the home for the longer term and also secures their future with their current mortgage.
For those in three and four bedroom homes in particular there is usually scope to extend into the garden. If this is done in the right way then the benefits can be considerable. However undertaking a significant project like this in your own home is risky, and the right approach is everything if you are going to add value and appeal.
Crucial tips when creating a home extension
Consider what you need from your space
Nothing succeeds without a plan, and initially understanding what you and your partner are missing is the first step. Before even considering an extension the first thing to do is discuss what you would need from your home to stay, or what you would both look for in a newer home.
If issues arise such as ‘lack of parking’ or ‘poor location’ then it’s best to focus your energy on a move. No amount of home renovation is going to change these things for you. However, if you find yourself saying your biggest bugbears include ‘lack of office space’ or ‘nowhere to entertain’ then it could be the case that an extension will fix your major issues.
Based on these you will also want to consider what kind of extension you would like to apply for. These are commonly grouped into either side, single-story, or multiple stories.
Understand what planning permissions you require
Once you know what you want to achieve the next step is to understand what legal hoops you need to jump through to ensure your addition is compliant before construction begins. Legislation on adding an extension varies massively, and while rules are generally similar it’s best to consult with your local authority as a priority.
It’s worth considering even at this stage how big your extension would be. Depending on your end goals it’s not often profitable in the short to medium term to add a two-story extension. As well to additional legislative criteria it’s also a heavy cost when it comes to materials and labor that can take a considerable amount of time to make a positive effect on your property value.
For a single-story extension off the back of the property, you can usually extend up to 3 meters, or 4 meters on a detached home, without needing planning permission. For some, this will be sufficient but it’s vital to gain further clarity once plans have been signed off to prevent issues upon completion.
Source reliable tradespeople
Demand for tradespeople has rapidly outpaced the number of qualified workers, a turbulent combination of Brexit, material cost inflation, and fewer younger workers filling incumbent employees are all principal factors in this. As such when undertaking work it can be a real challenge to find suitable tradespeople.
The best advice for this is twofold, do your due diligence as much as possible first. You can use a combination of online reputation and word of mouth to get the best idea of who is suitable and trustworthy. The second piece of advice is key, however, do not rush and miss out on someone you want to conduct the work with. Builder’s schedules are frantic at the best of times, and even more so for the best in the business. Delay your work until you can book in the right people.
You will also need to look at people to do the interior of your new extension. Consider the style and new fixtures you want to add, this could be anything from a newly styled shaker kitchen to a utility area on the side of your extension.
Overcompensate with your budget
When it comes to booking tradespeople, we all do the same thing, try to ping them to a concrete budget. While it’s somewhat likely they can give you a rough estimate in terms of the days required to complete the job there are some aspects they can’t predict.
As mentioned previously the impact of the increased material costs could mean any given price for a job could be drastically different within a few months. If you’re planning an extension it’s best to over-allocate the budget to account for unexpected costs down the line, anything from materials to delays caused by budget can all bump up the final price of your work.
Keep your new space as free as possible
Once you’ve done the hard part you are now free to enjoy your new space! Expect you are best to do this slowly, instead consider a complete redesign of the adjoining rooms to ensure your new area is well used. The actual square footage gained from the works will not be massive, and even just having increased room to move around or allow more people to visit is enough.
Before you go out and buy that new extended dining table, or add an additional snug area, take time to review and enjoy the extra floor space before you fill it full of furniture.
Is getting an extension right for me?
While the tips we’ve outlined do make the idea of getting an extension seem simple, it can be anything but. There’s an old saying for couples, the three most stressful events in your life are your first child, moving home, or getting a new kitchen’. When it comes to getting an extension consider that latter point to the extreme!
Before you get too far down the line with creating a plan for your extension first understand these stresses as well as the true cost. Once full cost it’s worth considering what you could get for your current home, and if an upgrade is more worthwhile.