Home Extensions Top Tips
The reasons for considering an extension are many and varied, more space to entertain, creation of a work zone, place for a new hobby or to add a wow factor. Whatever the reason there a few key points to consider before embarking on the process to ensure that you create the space as unique as your requirements.
Move or extend?
Do you love the area you live in? Are the neighbours firm friends or just the people you live next to? Is the location, just right? Or do you crave a change of scene, where you can just pop around the corner for all your favourite things? Depending on your answers to these questions you may already be on the phone to an estate agent.
If the location is where you want to be there are other consideration before ruling out a move. Will you get permission to build the type and style of extension that you want? And will the work give you the return on capital that you need?
Work through costs at the beginning, a quantity surveyor will be able to give you an idea of costs but only you will be able to define what constitutes good value. Return on investment is important if you may need to move in a couple of years, enjoyment, comfort and usefulness will have a greater impact if this is your forever home.
Develop your brief now!
A good design brief is essential to the success of every build project and even if you decide to move putting down your requirements in writing will help tailor you search for that perfect new pad. A well-developed design brief should be clearly setting your main requirements, detailing your vision and communicating your motivations and expectations; design direction; budget and set realistic time frames. Put simply what do you love doing and how do you want to do it?
Developing a holistic brief will ensure that your new extension will connect with the existing house in a meaningful way. You don’t want your beautiful new extension to turn the lounge into a corridor. It will also mean that you can address other issues at the same time.
Does clutter cause a sinking feeling when you enter the hall, or is the dining table so full with paperwork you can’t have a romantic meal. Is the bedroom boxy or the kitchen more suited to pot noodle then sophisticated entertaining? Addressing issues such as these during the build process will increase your satisfaction with the whole project and ensure your vision is achieved.
“Size matters not”
Yoda was right when he said that we should not judge by size, bigger isn’t always better, it’s about usable space. Your new extension should be improving your existing space rather than simply adding more. It should be designed to fit the way that you want to live, accommodating furniture or equipment allowing it to be use in a meaningful way. This takes us back to the design brief and making sure that the new space has a defined function. Keeping down the size of your addition will help to manage the environmental impact of the build, reduce the build budget and reduce running costs.
Getting the size of the extension right is important in terms of the overall look of your home. It shouldn’t be so big that it dominates either your home or your neighbours. Too dominant and you risk not getting planning permission. Design style will have a major impact on the way the new and old work together.
Style, style, style
The right design will combine three styles seamlessly. Each house has its own style, the new extension must be sensitive to this and each of these must combine to reflect your style. The challenge is to create an authenticity that makes the new building work effortlessly. Matching styles means proportions, details and materials must be sensitively harmonised. A contrasting extension requires different ideas but the extension still needs to be sensitive to the existing home rather than spoiling it.
Materials are an intrinsic part of the architectural style. Considering materials right from the beginning means that you get the finish you want. The right materials mean that a bland home can become extraordinary or an extension hidden, seamlessly added to your existing house. Selection of the right materials in the right places will mean that you will achieve your dream, the wrong material and you’ll always be a little disappointed.
Hidden building materials should be given the same consideration as those on view. Do you want the best u-values, natural materials or locally sourced items? How long do you want them to last? Without making decisions on this at an early stage you may end up having to compromised or increasing your budget. Some material also have long lead times.
To extend or replace?
At this point you might be asking if it would be easier to knock down and start fresh. There is a point when you are extending when it might be easier and cheaper, but ultimately you will need to consider the value of this route. It is worth bearing in mind that extensions and renovations attract 20% VAT whereas a new build is 0% so do your sums on the costs at the beginning when you can make the right choice.