DIY How To

Planning and Building an Extension

What happens when you grow out of your dream home? It might have the perfect style and location for you, and it's what you're used to – besides, all your stuff is there! But if you find yourself with a new family member, an expanding home business or just the pressures of living in a small space and don't want to move, there's only one option: build an extension.

It's not just a great practical solution to a house that's too small – it can add tons of value to your property and provide you with the chance to create a space that's perfect for you and your family.

Get inspired

There are tons of websites, books and magazines packed with in-depth articles and case studies of extensions. You can also look around your neighbourhood – ask your neighbours, friends and family if they've ever had an extension put in and you might get some perfect advice. Start thinking about the style – modern or traditional? Do you want it to match the rest of the house, or are you willing to take the risk of a completely different style

Draw up your plan
With the advent of cheap – or even free – architectural software for home PCs like SketchUp, it's easier than ever to create a rough outline of what you want your extension to look like. If you're spending a hefty chunk of cash on an extension, it makes sense to get it right first time, so don't be afraid to design away to your heart's desire – now might be the only chance you get to create your dream space.

Get permission
Failing to secure planning permission for your property can mean some hefty fines – not to mention all your hard work going to waste. Since 2008, the rules on extensions have changed so that many smaller project won't need planning permission at all. However, it's always best to check the rules with your local authority to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Find out the cost
When you have your initial plan in place, start considering how much it will cost. It's impossible to budget with 100% precision, but it is possible to get a rough idea – take into account how much of the hard work you can do yourself, how many professionals you might need to hire and for how long, and the cost and quality of the materials and fittings you're planning to use.

Once you've estimated how much it might cost to build an extension, it's time to think about where you can get the money from. Consider drawing from savings, or taking advantage of a secured homeowner loan from an institution like 1st Stop.

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