A way to achieve both in one fell swoop can be to extend. If you feel you’ve outgrown your home, you have a choice of either moving, and incurring all the expenses that go with it, or enlarging your existing property, adding value while creating a living area that’s tailored to your lifestyle. To get a rough idea of how much an extension would increase your house value, check out the price of neighbouring houses that have had similar extensions. Get an estate agent around – having their finger on the property pulse makes them perfectly placed to give advice. Or talk to your local Independent Network member, who should have a good idea.
Because an extension is a more permanent construction than the average conservatory, there’s more to consider before going down this route and perhaps the number one question on the list is ‘What would I use it for?’. One of the most common reasons for adding to the rear of the house is to create a glorious open-plan space, comprising a kitchen, dining area and even a family room. It can also provide you with the feature that’s now considered a must-have – bi-fold doors, which create a seamless transition between outside and in, allowing in masses of light in the process.
As with any project that involves building, it’s always reassuring to know there aren’t any potential pitfalls down the line with issues such as services, rights of way, soil conditions and surrounding trees, so why not have a chat with any neighbours who have undergone a similar project. In the process you might also gain some useful hints and tips – especially when it comes to finding a good designer and builder.
Do I need permission?
If your house hasn’t been extended previously, you may benefit from what is known as Permitted Development rights. In the case of a detached property, this allows you to build a single-storey extension outwards by 8 metres, and by 6 metres if you have a semi-detached or terraced, subject to certain limits and conditions. You can find the full list of exemptions on the Planning Portal website.
In the event your extension does require planning permission, you’ll need to complete a planning application and submit it to the Planning Portal website with the relevant drawings and information for the extension you’re building, along with the fee of £172 (a small price to pay in the scheme of things). If your application is rejected, all’s not lost – you can reapply for free within 12 months. Bear in mind, though, if it’s accepted, you have to start the building works within three years or the application is void.
Of course, in all of this there’s one make-or-break factor in deciding whether to go ahead with your extension – the cost. The golden rule is to shop around and get at least three quotes from builders you know to be reputable. The cost of a single-storey build can range* between £1,000 and £2,000 per m2* depending on where in the country you live. If the preferred quote is still higher than you expected, don’t be put off – as well as hopefully adding at least that amount to the overall value of the house, you’ll also be creating an improvement in your quality of life that could prove priceless.
Now all that’s left is make that new room less of a dream. Start a folder for all the practical information you’ll need – research, quotes and correspondance. And gather inspiration for the interior too – magazines and Pinterest are good sources. Once you’ve sorted out what you can afford, knowing how you want it to look on the inside and outside might be just the impetus you need to get the project off the ground.