Creating More Space
As we return from our summer holidays, the balmy days of summer begin to fade, and we start to spend more hours indoors, we begin to dream of more space, a space free form clutter. Somewhere with a quite corner when the whole family are home and at full volume, or an adult space to unwind when the tiny ones are in bed.
Extending is a popular way to add space and often makes economic sense. Moving home is a costly business when you add up the cost of buying, selling and the general moving costs, if you invest this money into your existing house you can even add value.
A home extension can be a daunting task without the proper support and be time consuming. Though when you consider the searching for the right house, showing your existing home, arranging the surveyor, meeting the lawyer, packing, redirecting the post, redecorating the new place and all the other associated tasks moving home is no less time consuming. The advantage of staying put is that you will have the space purpose designed for you, rather than the best fit off the shelf solution that you can find.
Where to start?
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 clearly setout your main requirements, detailing your vision and communicating your motivations and expectations; design direction; budget and set realistic time frames. Put simply write down what do you love doing and how do you love to do it?
Does clutter cause a sinking feeling when you enter the hall or is the dining table so full of paperwork you can’t have a romantic meal. Is the bedroom boxy or the kitchen more suited to pot noodle then sophisticated entertaining? What do you love about your home as it is now and what must stay? Addressing issues such as these during the build process will increase your satisfaction with the whole project and ensure your vision is achieved.
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. Your new extension should be improving your existing space rather than simply adding more volume.
Share your brief early on with a chartered architect, they will give you an honest appraisal of your project. They will advise you of other issues to consider, for example if you are adding bedrooms you may have to add parking spaces. They will also discuss how the extension will work for you in 15 years’ time. Will you need full planning permission or is a certificate of lawfulness for permitted development possible?. A charted architect will be able to turn your brief into a design and set of drawings that can be built.
The right design will add character and enhance the existing building. Each house has its own style, the new extension must be sensitive to this, and both the new and existing 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.
Getting the size of your extension right is important both in terms of giving you the space you need and the overall look of the home. It shouldn’t be to big so that it dominates either your existing home or your neighbours, as this can risk not getting planning permission. 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. Nor should it be so small that it effects the flow and is impractical. A bold two storey extension may look more in character with your home and be cheaper than a single storey and loft extension.
Consider the function of the spaces you require and consider how these spaces fit into the house. Making a room multifunctional can save space and make your home work more fluidly, a kitchen dinner means you can entertain while cooking. However, other groupings can be less harmonious, a study space in the bedroom or a reading chair in the games room often don’t work. When considering the function of the new space think about the parings that already exist around the house, do they work well? Could they be improved?
Think about the storage requirements, you will have heard the dictum to add storage everywhere. Sufficient storage is important, but it needs to be fit for purpose and responsive. What works well in the kitchen will not work in the kids play room. The deep cavernous multi coloured boxes that take the duplo don’t work as well for the teenage den so a system which adapts to meet your needs going forward is important. Utilising dead spaces for storage in a creative way can make it into an inviting space.
The advantage working with an architect to assist with the design work, is that they will visualise the space in ways that you may not have thought about, bringing new solutions. We’ve covered the benefits of using an architect in a previous blog post: Do I need an architect.
How much does an extension cost?
There are many variables which will affect the cost of your project from foundations, the number of storeys, volume of glazing, location and even how you choose to finance the build. The web lists anything £1,000 per/m2 to £2,500 per/m2 as guide prices. Getting a profession on board from an early stage will help you keep track of your project, they will help you to identify the costly elements so that you can make an informed decision as to whether it should stay or go. Spending the time agreeing your design now means that you will get the outcome that you want and avoid high pressure, costly decision making on site.
Keep referring back to your brief when making decisions, you want to ensure that the items that you are keeping are really going to help you get to the end goal that you want. Listen to the professional advice but don’t let them make the decisions.