House Extensions Tips – Planning An Extension With No Experience

A home extension is one of your best investments. Many homeowners are not familiar with the construction, architecture or design of their homes.

It’s easy to overlook something, make an error, or spend more than you intended to if you don’t have some good advice.

Over the years we’ve worked on many different projects with architects. We’ve learned that there are many questions when planning and designing a home extension.

We’ve provided you with some useful tips and advice to help you plan your house extension.


What are the types of extensions for a house?

A house extension is any structure added to an existing building. It could be a basement extension, loft extension, kitchen extension, living room, or even new bedroom. The materials used to construct extensions can range from the simple brick and block design, up to luxury, more expensive designs that include structural glass.

The extensions of a house are typically one or two stories high and can include anything from garage roof extensions and conservatories to multi-storey extensions with their own kitchenettes and bedrooms.

Do I need to get planning permission for an extension of my home?

It depends. But in most cases, no, you don’t need a planning permit for your home extension. Permitted Development is available for most properties, meaning that they can be extended without needing planning permission.

This includes things like not being able to extend beyond the height of your roof, or limiting how far you can extend outwards. But they will vary depending on the type and size of your property. You can find the full list of allowed development criteria here. It also includes a quick start guide.

When in doubt, it’s best to contact your local planning authority. This is usually the Council. The council will be able explain to you the process and whether your home qualifies for permitted developments. They will also tell you what fees and applications, if any, are required.

Do I need to get planning permission before I extend a listed property?

You will need both a planning permit and a consent for listed buildings if your house is listed. Not doing so is a crime. You can speak to the Conservation Officer of your local authority to find out what restrictions may apply to your property.

Do I require planning permission to extend in a conservation zone?

Permitted development rules apply to your home if it is located in a conservation zone, like a World Heritage Site or National Park. However, they are slightly more restrictive.

Local authorities scrutinise the entire design process to a greater extent. However, this does not mean that you cannot plan a contemporary extension. It is best to contact your local planning authority Conservation Officer as soon as possible to discuss your plans. Home Building has a great guide that you can check out for more information.

Do I need to hire an architect for a house extension?

It’s easy to get carried away, but let’s keep it simple: the more simplified you keep your extension the less likely you are to need an architect. It’s up to you. There is no law that requires it.

An architect is not necessary if you are only planning a simple brick-and-mortar construction or a modest conservatory. An architect can be useful if you want to create something more elaborate or if you are in need of an expert who will design something unique.

Do there exist restrictions regarding the placement of toilets within a home extension?

There used to be but not anymore. There used to be a requirement in the Building Regulations, which we will discuss further below, that there was a space between a bathroom and any other room. This is no longer required.

Place a toilet wherever you want, provided there is enough space, a washbasin and adequate ventilation. Showers must also meet the minimum requirements set out in the Regulations. The proximity of suitable plumbing is therefore the most important factor to consider when planning a toilet or shower, since this has a large impact on the price.

Do I have to inform my neighbors if I plan a house extension?

It is only legal to inform your neighbour if your plans will affect the boundary between the two properties. It’s common courtesy, however, to notify your neighbours about any planned construction.

It’s important to let them prepare, especially if they have small children.

Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to keep your neighbours happy, so that they don’t take offense at what you’re doing and cause trouble for the project.

Legal right to light in house extensions

 In theory, neighbours can stop your house extension from being built, even if you qualify for permitted development.

Natural light is vital to our everyday lives. The right to light allows a building to be stopped if it would block the light from a neighboring window or door. However, this can only happen if blocking the light prevents a room from being properly used. The right to light does not guarantee the right to sunshine or airy rooms, but it prevents extension from putting a neighbor’s house in darkness.

This is not a common problem. Right to light disputes are usually the result of vindictive, deliberate construction. You should be aware of the legal rights of your neighbor, especially if you are living in an area or city where houses are close to each other.

What is the minimum height of the ceiling in a home extension?

Building Regulations no longer specify a minimum ceiling height for house extensions in Auckland. The ceiling height of an extension cannot be greater than your roof, but there are no other legal requirements. You can set your ceiling as high or as low as you want.

It’s important to remain realistic. Your extension will not be very comfortable if your ceiling height is too low. You don’t want to give anyone who enters your new expensive space chronic back pain. Ceiling heights in the construction industry are typically 2.4m or around 8 feet. This is a good starting point when planning your project.

What are the building codes for home extensions?

Building Regulations are guidelines and minimum standards that are determined by the government and enforced locally by planning authorities to ensure safety and health factors. They can cover everything from the way a building uses water and energy to its fire safety. Regulations are applicable to new constructions, extensions and alterations.

You can use the example of a regulation that relates to energy-efficiency (the ominous Part L, which sounds like something from The X-Files). The government has introduced new regulations to increase the efficiency of new buildings by 40%. This means that the amount of glazing in a building is limited to only 25%.

It is a long list, very technical and beyond the scope of an amateur developer. If you want to know all the restrictions, it is best to contact your architect or contractor. If you don’t want to spend hours reading through hundreds of pages, then it is best to give your ideas to the person who will be drawing up your plans.

How do I select a builder to extend my home?

Unless your confidence in your ability is high, you will need to hire someone to build the extension to your home. It’s important to find a contractor you can trust. You can find a builder in many ways. However, it is a good idea for you to look online and see reviews of contractors who have experience with building extensions nearby. Local forums and word of mouth are also good sources.

Ask to see examples of previous work and ask if you can speak with someone who has worked for them as a reference. Do not feel obligated to hire someone who gives you a quote the moment you meet them. Take as much time as necessary to find a contractor that you are comfortable with.

How can I select an architect to design a home addition?

You can follow the same steps as before: If you choose a more complex or bespoke design and decide to hire an architectural firm, you will need to do some research in order find the best one for you. You can start by looking online at sites like Houzz. Once you have a list of architects that you are interested in, research them on their websites and speak to them personally.

You can ask to see their portfolio, get references and, if you are able, go to their office to view their work. Do not be intimidated by impressive and flashy work. Trust your gut. If you are hiring someone to design an extension for you, you should be confident that they will deliver exactly what you want.


What is the cost of a home extension?

The cost of an extension depends on many factors. There are too many factors that can affect the price of an extension. It is impossible to give a benchmark or average cost. However, a rough estimate could be between PS1200 and PS2000 per square metre.

You’ll also need to factor in professional fees, such as those for your architect or builder (and other things like planning applications), which can range anywhere from 10-15%. VAT is then added on top. London and the South East are also likely to cost more for extensions.

Consult your architect or contractor to have preliminary plans drawn.

You can then contact a few builders to get a cost estimate. This will give you an idea of the cost of your house extension and help you decide if it’s something you can afford.

Do I need to insure my extension?

The answer to this question is yes. However, the type of insurance you will need depends on several factors.

Your contractor will also need insurance. You should also consider taking out a structural guarantee, which will have the work inspected for errors and then passed. If the roof collapses a year after the construction, your builder is not responsible.

If your builder only has public liability insurance they will not be covered in the event of an accident that was not their fault (such as fire or tsunami).

It’s important to inform your insurance provider of the work you plan to do well before it begins. You can also use this time to discuss the policies that will be needed during and after the extension’s construction.

Can I claim a vat reduction on my home extensions?

Most likely, you will not be able to claim VAT relief on the work done for your home extension project. When you hire a contractor the standard rate is usually 20%. If you use independent tradespeople that are not VAT registered, you may be able to make an exception. In this case, you will only have to pay VAT for the materials you used.

You’re in luck, if your home is a listed property and you have permission to work on the extension.

Does my house extension increase the value of my property?

Many people decide to extend their property in order to increase its value if they ever decide to sell it. It is usually true that adding space to a home will increase its value, especially in London and South East. However, this is not always the case.

Speak to an estate agent in your area to determine if extending your house will increase the value of it. The agent will be able tell you what renovations are popular in your area and give you a rough estimate of the average value of properties in your neighborhood. If your house is already close to this value, you can ‘overextend,’ and limit the value of your home despite adding new rooms.

Also, keep in mind that the financial benefits of an extension will change as the housing markets changes. Although it might not make sense to build an extension to your home right now, the value of that addition could increase significantly in future years.

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