You've decided you want an extension, you've decided where it will be, you've decided what it will be used for and you are excited to get the build started and more importantly finished and to start using it.
But stop, have you researched all your planning considerations, materials and trades?
Take a look at the extensions which have been built in your area, will your design pass planning? Knock on neighbours doors and ask them if they had problems and how they overcame them, learn from their issues and help your project to run smoothly, on time and on budget.
A traditional brick, block build may not be the way to go, research into new and innovative materials. Look into the insulation quality of products and the ease of building in any weather.
Make friends with your local builders merchant, you may be able to negotiate a discount or two and they will be able to recommend trusted traders.
Evan a small extension budget can easily spiral out of control. Before you break the ground ensure you have done your research into every aspect of the build.
Your programme, budget and sanity will be glad you did.
No matter the size of the build you need to work out your budget and stick to it. Of course sums need to be included for contingency and professional fees. When costing the build you need a detailed spreadsheet which contains each and every single element of the build and their cost.
Beware of clay! Investigate the ground you are to build on and investigate it thoroughly. Many pounds can be lost in the ground and getting out of the ground can sometimes be the most painful as there can be so many unforeseen challenges if you go in blind.
Keep it simple! The similar the design the cheaper the design - a very general statement but should be taken on board. Adding curved walls and complicated roof designs soon up the costs. Complicated engineered designs may blow the budget before you get off the paper.
Barter! Don't accept your first price, on everything, get at least three prices and then you can still try to barter the best price down. This may sound time consuming, it is, but the savings can be tremendous. Search for bargains and think outside the box - how can you get what you need in a simpler, cheaper way? There will be alternatives you just need to do your research.
Over the last twenty years the UK Brick Industry has consolidated from a network of local small brickworks serving their local areas to three large brick manufacturers controlling almost 90% of the UK Brick Industry. As smaller brickworks have been taken over, many have been closed or seen their brick ranges reduced.
As a result, simply many brick types that were once manufactured simply are no longer available.
This means that many bricks are matched to the 'closest' available brick match, and that is not often that close a brick match at all, leaving the extension or area of bricked in brickwork standing out blatantly from the original adjoining brickwork.
Brick Tinting is the process of changing the colour appearance of brickwork, mostly in situ once it has been built.
Brick Tinting has been used throughout the UK for more than 30 years, the process has primarily been used to correct manufacturing or construction mistakes that only become apparent once brickwork has been erected, i.e, non standard brick batch colour variations, brick banding, etc.
Not all bricks are a single colour, many bricks are multi coloured from production, including various colour flashes and mixtures that make up the brick type.
Brick tinting matching all these colour variations, not just single colours. Brickwork weathers and ages naturally relatively quickly and brick tinting will also colour match even the most weathered brickwork.
The overall affect is that the new brickwork is indistinguishable from the original adjoining brickwork.
Remedial Repair can be contacted for all your brick, mortar and stone tinting requirements.
If you are taking on a building project, be it an extension, a garden project or self building your forever home - your local builders merchant will be a great place to start making friends!
Call in and get to know the staff, tell them what your plans are and leave your contact details.
They will know many, if not all of the local trades people, and will know who to recommend for your project. If you are buying the materials directly and from them then you may be able to negotiate a discount on all purchases - the builders merchant wins s they get all the trade and you win as you get a discount and a reliable supplier - they wont want to mess up and lose your orders!
If you are after a material your local builders merchant does not stock they will no doubt be able to get it for you as they will have many other branches locally and nationwide.
And if you are just after advise they will be more than happy to offer this too, after all you are more likely to order from them if they have helped and offered advise and you will be more than happy to stay local.
You plan to build but have you looked into an alternative to traditional brick and breeze block wall construction?
You want your new building to be thermally efficient and sustainable and if the build time could be as fast as possible that would be great too? Right?
ARKPRO is up to four times quicker to build than traditional build, reducing construction time that saves a great deal over a project build. The system is also not weather dependent, avoiding potential expensive site delays.
The thermal block structure is laid dry, infilled with concrete to create a high performing monolithic walling structure and then clad in any finish to suit such as brick, stone, timber, or render.
The thermal block work which forms the ARKPRO substrate is made from 90% recycled timber which is mixed with various cement elements at the factory to create a finish which feels close to concrete.
The thermal blocks achieve a BRE Green Guide A Rating and 4 code for Sustainable Homes points achieving 8dB over standard 43 dB for party walls.
Your extension or renovation project is underway but there will still be decisions to be made. Unless you have planned and decided every single detail you will be asked by your builder to make decisions as the construction moves ahead. Make these decisions promptly, the same day would be best.
How quickly you make these decisions is more important then you may realise. These may seem small to you but taking too long to decide on the type of taps you would like in your en-suite or where you would like the plug sockets could cause large delays. Some decisions will then involve a lead time from order or may delay the plasterer and then decorator which can all add to the time on site for your builder and therefor labour costs for yourself.
This is also the case if you change your mind once the building has started. Deciding you don't want the wall there you want it here may seem like a small and easy change but this could soon disrupt the works schedule considerably in terms of cost and time.
Ensure you only get the builders in once you have decided as many things as possible, consider the things that could go wrong and try to plan to prevent them. Prevention is cheaper then the cure in construction.
1. Do Your Research
The more time spent at the early stage the better. Do you research in your local area. Find out who the planning authority is and what things they are approving and what they are rejecting (and why). You can find all this out easily online. Research as well what extensions have been built in your neighbourhood, be that your immediate neighbours and also houses like yours in your area.
2. Look at the Latest Innovative New Ways to Build
Things have moved on in the building industry and your local builder may not be the best person to advise you on it so do you research and ask at the design stage as the opportunity to use such building systems may need designing into the build. There are many systems and solutions that make building your home extension much quicker, and therefore cheaper. For example SIP, ICF, or ARKPRO all do this and can save you a great deal on your project build, as well as creating a more energy efficient building.
3. Buy Direct and Act Like the Trade!
You can save a great deal by buying the building materials for the build yourself direct. Act like the trade by remembering that the builders merchant want your business and ask for discounts. Remember to include for delivery and ask for terms, builders merchants are much more friendly places these days. On specific products speak to the manufacturers direct, even if they only sell through a distribution network they will often still talk to you and can confirm pricing an offer valuable advise.
4. Consider the Cost of Every Building Material
yourBuildPlans can provide you with a detailed ‘take off’ for your build - a list of building materials and how much of each you will need to buy to build your project. Armed with this you can get costs for each of the building materials required for your project. But don’t just accept every price you are given. Ask for a discount, look at each product and ask (and search) for alternatives and ways in which each product can be bought or used cheaper. It sounds simple, but larger builders employ buyers and cost managers for a reason, you can save thousands by simply questioning.
5. Minimise Architectural/Planning Fees
Some architects are amazing and can design amazing buildings that win awards. But their fees will reflect this and will probably be over-kill for your home extension project. Choose to use an architectural service (such as yourBuildPlans) that lays out everything that you need in order to design your home extension and the planning process. This can include planning application costs and structural engineer fees as well as the architectural design and survey.
6. Keep it Simple.
If you want to minimise costs, keep the design simple. As a general rule, keep the angles and measurements of the design within standard formats and the costs of build are lower. As soon as you step outside this into different size formats, corners and curves, costs of build will increase.
7. Think about TAX
Ask trades people if they are VAT registered. If they fall below the VAT threshold then they will not add 20% VAT to their services and you can save on labour costs. In addition some materials and services attract VAT discounts such as insulation, in addition to government grants in relation to insulating homes. If you are undertaking a self build project then you will be able to claim VAT back on your build, but save all this until the end of the project as you can only claim in one go.
8. Invest in Quality Professional Services
As a nationwide architectural practice speculating in Home Renovation and Home Extensions we would say this, but it is true. Investing in sound planning advice and guidance right from the very outset will often save you money on your overall project. Incorporating many of the points here, your home extension design is integral to how much it will cost for you to build it and experienced planning advice helps to avoid costly mistakes and planning delays.
9. Recycle and Upcycle
Sell what you don’t use, there is no need to waste most building materials. One scan on websites such as Ebay or Gumtree and you can see most building materials that you will need for your home extension project, its just a case of finding the right ones and the right quantities. There are even Facebook groups for reselling building materials.
Not only can you use these resources to sell your left over materials but you can also source materials that you need and save money wherever possible.
10. Remove Weight from the Build
As a design and build principle, if you take weight out of buildings then you will reduce cost. Not that is a broad principle and lots more factors play into it, but essentially that is a rule that should be adopted. It should be adopted from the outset right from the design stage. At yourBuildPlans we will introduce this concept as an option for any relevant Home Extension.
For example, using a lightweight block system with a brick slip cladding system will look exactly like a traditional brick and block build but as the weight of the materials used is much lighter the build is much, much quicker. This saves on build time, save labour costs. Using such systems can also save additional cost on machinery and lifting gear, saving on overall
11. Pick Your Builder Carefully - Avoid Cowboys and Monkeys.
If you don’t know a builder, most people then ask their friends for recommendations of local builders. If this doesn’t work you are entering the unknown. There are many local directories, rated builder websites, and local and national certified builder schemes. These help you, but always make sure that you check references and ask to speak to previous customers and review their work.
One of the most valuable additional services that yourBuildPlans offer is our approved builder pricing scheme. We provide your drawings, along with recommendations for local yourBuildPlans approved traders who can then easily price for your project based on the plans that we have created. Its an additional service but one that can help you to choose the right builder in your area, and avoid the often costly mistake of cowboy builders.
12. Talk to Your Neighbours!
Its good to talk. Especially to your neighbours when you are planning a home extension. It not only is a nice neighbourly thing to do that will help prepare your neighbours for the noise and disruption of upcoming building work but will also let them talk to you openly about your planned extension and any reservations that they have.
Often many disputes that we see could easily be resolved by relaxed conversation from the outset. If a neighbour can see a design and is consistently informed they are less likely to cause any delays in your planning process, let alone the costs that naturally come along when neighbour disputes start during or after the build.
13. Take Time on Complete Design
We often see customers rushing to have their building plans produced, often focused on just getting them to and through panning. Although, the yourBuildPlans service is fast and typically works on a three week lead time from enquiry and survey through to planning being submitted to the local planning authority we would always recommend that you take you time to consider the details of the design as mistakes made here, or areas that haven’t been properly thought through can cost you a great deal later on.
Complete and detailed plans will enable you to take accurate measurements, if you are unsure use the yourBuildPlans Quantity Surveying service to give you a detailed list of building material quantities. This will help you to save on over ordering building materials.
We can also provide more enhanced visualisations of your proposed build. These are really useful as they enable you to visualise the build much better than basic planning drawings. Good plans enable you to figure out exactly where plumbing and electrical points should be and to ensure you get floor levels and door openings just right. Take time to visualise in detail at the design stage and you will save a great deal on making changes when on site.
14. Project Manage
Now this isn’t for everybody, but if you have the right mind and skill set project managing your build and can be rewarding as well as cost saving.
In fact, it is often an easy role out from the very earliest design stage. You start with liaising with your Architectural Technician, price the building materials and liaise with building material suppliers, you then employ and manage your tradespeople, employing each trade directly will save you the project management margin that a building company would add. Use the yourBuildPlans project management guide to help you plan out the program of work and help to manage the tradespeople on site in combination with each other.
15. Think Logisitically
Construction is a physical thing and involves lots of materials and people. That means you have to think about the logistics of each stage and how they work with each other.
For example, if you have a tight site with poor access how are you going to get all the materials to site and where are you going to store them? Do you need to get materials that you won’t use until later on in the build on to the site earlier just so they can get onto the site before the build gets in the way and stops that happening? Think about this at each stage and in conjunction with each part of the build, spend time on this and you will quickly see how you avoid unexpected costs that wouldn’t normally show themselves until later on in your build.
16. Save on Brick Matching
Use a service such as ExtensionMatch if you need to match bricks or stone for your Home Extension.
Many people don’t think about the bricks until later on in the project and can then be hit with surprising costs. You will want your bricks to match your adjoining house brickwork so that it blends in, otherwise you extension may have a ‘bolted on’ look and stand out like an extension. As the brick industry has consolidated over recent years many bricks are no longer made so costly time delays can be incurred whilst the builders merchant try to find a ‘closest match’. The problem with a ‘closest match’ is that it still stands out, reducing the value of your Home Extension, and can often come from a brickworks miles from you building site, incurring additional transport costs.
ExtensionMatch overcomes this and guarantees to match your bricks perfectly and will often keep the costs of brick matching down.
Your planning application has been rejected - but don't panic all is not lost. Take a careful look at the reasons for the rejection and begin working on solutions to the objections.
There may be one tiny detail your local authority can not approve and it may be easily rectified - If this is the case the application can be resubmitted to gain planning permission.
If the rejection is a little more complicated you will need to research the objection and redesign and alter to accommodate the local requirements.
You may consider the rejection unreasonable, in which case you can take it to appeal. If you feel the application has been falsely refused you can request an independent inspector takes a look and concludes the outcome.
Once you have obtained planning permission you should not make any changes to your design. If you do these may require a retrospective amendment or require a completely new planning application.
This guidance reflects temporary increases to the size limits for single-storey rear extensions that must be completed by 30 May 2019, and the associated neighbour consultation scheme.
An extension or addition to your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:
* Designated land includes conservation areas, national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and World Heritage Sites.
Please note: The permitted development allowances described here apply to houses and not to:
Details taken from
As with many things, if you are new to something it is easy to make mistakes. If you have never extended a property before make sure you avoid these time and costly mistakes with your project.
- Don't aggravate the neighbours. You may not see or talk to your neighbours much but they can be the end to your new room. Ensure you keep them informed of your plan, ask their opinions and make them feel considered. If they feel you are blocking their light, ruining their view or that there is going to be a lot of noise, mess and disruption they can be the ones to object and put a stop to you plans. Keep them on your side at all times.
- Don't start building before planning permission, if required, has been approved. Waiting with your details on the nearest lamp post and paperwork may not appeal but how does the thought of knocking your completed extension down feel. Wait, just wait.
- Ensure you have considered how your extension will change how your home is used, does it add the valued space you are expecting or does it turn one room into an unusable corridor to get to it?
- Don't go with the first builder you meet. You need to get at least three quotes for tall the work you want to contract out. Ask questions, ask for references and definitely check them out. Ask previous clients about the companies general house keeping, how problems were solved, if they turned up everyday and if the work was completed and exceeded their expectations. If in doubt keep looking for the right builder for your extension.
Whether you are thinking about undertaking a Self Build Project, a Home Renovation or Home Extension, yourHomeBuild provides you with expert advice and guidance.