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Preparing to Extend Your Home: Things To Know

Preparing To Extend Your Home

The housing market is a competitive place right now with an astonishing 12 buyers for every house for sale. Whilst it might sound appealing as a seller, those figures mean a highly competitive market for buyers which can be off-putting. With this is mind, it’s no surprise that extending and improving homes to suit homeowners needs is becoming a more viable option. This is helped by the UK Government’s decision in 2019 to lift the restrictions on Permitted Developments to allow homeowners to build bigger without needing planning permission. 

So, you’ve made the decision to extend. What next?

Consider the size of extension you want and whether this falls under permitted developments. What is permitted developments, you ask? 

Permitted development rights are an automatic grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application. Most houses have permitted development rights, but flats and maisonettes do not, so planning permission is required. If your property is in a conservation area there maybe additional restrictions imposed under permitted developments. We recommend you check with your local council whether your property is affected.

Drawings, what do you need and from who?

Speak to your local architect about your plan to extend your home, your ideas and desired outcome, they can create to scale drawings for both planning permission and detailed drawings for building control. They may also be able to handle the planning process on your behalf. This is either done as part of their package or for an additional fee.

If your extension does not need planning permission, you will still need drawings for building regulations. Building Regulations set out minimum requirements for:

  • structural integrity
  • fire safety
  • energy efficiency
  • damp proofing
  • ventilation
  • and other key aspects that ensure a building is safe.

If you plan to demolish structural walls and make significant change to the integrity of the existing building, the chances are you need to employ a structural engineer such as Morgan Structural to calculate the specification for new foundations and steel beams etc. 

What applications do you need to submit?
Building Control

Before any works begin, you will need to submit either a building notice or a full plans application to building control. A building notice will allow work to begin quickly, but you will lack the protection that building control has signed off on the design and you are liable to correct any work that fails to meet building regulation standards upon inspection.

Lawful Development

In a nutshell, if you want proof that your project is allowed under permitted development and does not require planning permission, you can apply to your local council through the Planning Portal online application service for a Lawful Development Certificate. This can be a handy piece of paper to have when you come to sell your home in future.

Planning Permission

It’s wise to discuss your application with your local planning authority before officially submitting it to find out if it has a shot at success. The feedback you’ll get will give you a good indication of your scheme’s chances of success and if you’ll need to amend it before you submit it. Some authorities charge for pre-application advise; others offer it for free.

The type of planning permission you need depends on your project. For example, for a residential extension, you’ll need to apply for Householder Planning Permission, while a listed building requires Listed Building Consent. Find a complete list of the types of consent at Planning Portal.

Once you’ve understood which kind of permission you need, you can either online via the Planning Portal website or by post (download forms from your local authority’s website).

What other factors should you consider? 
Existing Sewer & Drainage

If there’s pipework on your land it could affect the position, size and design of your extension. Building over or near a pipe could damage the pipe or your home in the long term, so it’s important you work together with your local Water Authority to find out what pipework is underground. 

If you need to build over or near a pipe or inspection chamber, you will need to seek permission first and where necessary follow the recommendation of the Water Authority on the design of the work surrounding the apparatus.

Party Wall Act

The Party Wall act prevents building work such as an extension by one neighbour that can undermine the structural integrity of shared walls or neighbouring properties. If you are about to embark on building work in a semi-detached house, flat or terraced property you will need to be aware of this and if you live in any of these, it’s likely you share a wall with a neighbouring building and will need an agreement regarding the Party Wall before you start work. 

The part of the Act that’s often most relevant is where it applies to the excavation of foundations close to neighbouring buildings or garden boundary walls.

In order to trigger this, excavation normally needs to be within a critical distance of 3m from the adjoining property where your new trench is deeper than their existing foundations.

Because older properties tend to have relatively shallow footings in most cases it’s a ‘given’ that the extension foundations will be considerably deeper. 

Where there is any doubt, it might be worth consulting any records of foundation depths or seeking an expert opinion, for example from a building control surveyor.

Boiler Capacity 

An extension to your home, at the very least, means more space to heat. And if you’re having an extra bathroom in that extension then you’ll also need a boiler than can deal with the extra hot water demand.

We recommend identifying your current boiler capacity and checking with the manufacturer whether it has enough capacity to supply your home after completing the extension.  

Moving Out During The Build

Whilst staying at home is the most cost effective option when renovating, sometimes it isn’t worth the stress. Think about the impact that the renovation will have on your daily life and how you will manage the disruption and mess. For example, how will you keep your house safe and secure if your extension includes demolishing external walls. What will you do for hot water if your work also includes relocating the boiler, or how will you feed the family if your existing kitchen will be ripped out in the process? 

With a wealth of experience behind us, let JH Group be your trusted builder on your next project.

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