Furniture Choice

Renovating and extending your home has lots of benefits. Doing so can increase property value, unlock extra space and refresh the layout of the home, and nip any potential maintenance issues in the bud, before they become a troublesome and expensive problem.

Doing work on your house isn’t a walk in the park though, and there are lots of things you can bear in mind to make the job that little bit less stressful.


1. Choose the right expert

It’s often a good idea to hire an architect or designer to plan your project, as they will bring a breadth of experience that you probably don’t have. If you do choose to, you can either pick someone local or an outsider – both should have a fair few years’ experience under their belt.

A local expert will know the intricacies of the local planning department and a host of other local concerns, however they might be a little conservative with their work, given they know what ‘works’ with the local planning officers.

An outsider, on the other hand, will likely be happier with more complex or less conservative projects, and should hopefully approach planning permission with a more objective stance, knowing the governmental guidelines and appeals process, and whether or not planning officers are being reasonable. They can be useful if things don’t go exactly to plan!

When choosing architects and builders, always try and use recommended individuals – family and friends who have recently had work done should be your first port of call. If this isn’t possible, find one using sites like the Royal Institute of British Architects’ site, or the Federation of Master Builders’ site, then look for reviews of your chosen experts online.


2. Read up on planning permission

Whatever you’re thinking of doing to your home, chances are you may have to apply to your local authority for planning permission. Planning departments differ wildly between authorities and even individual planners have their own way of doing things, so it’s extremely important that you don’t adopt a gung-ho attitude to obtaining permission.

Read the County Structure Plan, District Local Plan, or the combination of the two, the Unitary Development Plan. The council will also likely have produced a document outlining supplementary planning guidance too, providing you detailed info on things like design, distances, overshadowing and so forth.


3. Speed is key

Government rules placed on planning departments mean that eight weeks is the maximum a submission should take to be accepted or rejected – over that, targets are missed and councils can see their funding dropped. This means that’s if there’s a problem with your application, an officer will likely flat-out reject it instead of beginning a potentially lengthy negotiations process.

As such, it’s important you spend a lot of time making the application spick and span before you send it off. When it’s being considered, keep checking back on it to make sure things are going swimmingly, and if they’re not, withdraw it, work out the issue, and resubmit – the first reapplication should be free.


4. Budget, budget, budget

We’ve all watched shows like Grand Designs and seen ambitious projects go over budget, but the same can happen in the case of small-scale works too. As such, cost up everything before you begin with your architect and builder, and leave around 30% of this sum as a contingency, just in case things don’t go to plan.

Renovations, in particular, can be notorious for budget-breaking. Ripping up floorboards and knocking down walls can unearth problems with your home that you never knew existed – rotten timbers, infestations, leaky pipes, cracks in the plaster and so forth.

Budgeting goes hand-in-hand with an airtight contract too. Draw up a contract with your tradesperson that goes into precise detail about what is and isn’t included in their fee, and make sure that both parties are completely agreed on the timescale (no least so you can provide the doors, windows and so on in good time), as well as what happens in the case of unforeseen issues.


5. Keep it simple

If you’re working to a budget, don’t get ahead of yourself. You’re not a modern-day Frank Lloyd Wright or Zaha Hadid, so try and eliminate complex and costly elements of your design to save cash.

Curves, complicated groundworks like under-floor heating and the use of new-fangled materials will cost money. Straight lines, concrete sub-floors, roof lights and recycled materials are inexpensive, plus your builder will likely have a lot more experience using them than if they were tasked with crafting your extension or refurbishment from more exotic materials.

Renovating and extending your home can be hard, but with the above in mind, the process can be made more straightforward.