Deciding you extend your home is a huge decision – especially as it can be expensive. But many of us make this choice without fully understanding the legal, planning and construction issues you might face along the way. Focussing on the way your home will look is the easy part, but the harder parts are often left to the builder.
We have compiled a list of the 5 top things you should know before you embark on your project. It will help you to understand the process and to feel confident as you work towards your desired home extension.
Building regulations are important
Even if your extension does not need planning permission, you will certainly need to fulfil Building Regulations rules and you will need approval at every part of the process. Building Regulations inform you on the structure, safety, energy efficiency, insulation, ventilation and materials. All new building work requires building regulation approval – so it’s important you read up on the rules and inform the local office before you start.
Sewers can really affect your plans
Your water board will need to be contacted if your extension is being built over a sewer. If it is being built over, or even close to, a shared sewer, the work will need an agreement document and this can be costly. Especially if it is felt that the sewer needs to be moved or a manhole is needed.
Do you live in a conservation area?
Even if your extension wouldn’t normally require planning permission, this can go out the window if your home is in a conservation area. Your local council will have its own policy on this and what changes to your home are allowed. You will need to contact your local conservation officer as one of your first steps in the process. This can even apply to minor changes to your home such as adding new windows.
Your foundations may not be secure enough
When your home was built, the foundations would have been designed to take the weight of your home as it was originally designed. In the last 25 years, Building Regulations have stipulated that foundations for an extension should be sufficient to accommodate an extra storey at a later date. But this does not apply to garages – so building over your garage may not be possible without foundation work. Essentially, you need to work out if your foundations will meet regulations and if this will affect where your extension can be built.
You need to consider energy efficiency
A decade ago, energy efficiency may not have been such a huge consideration. But these days, your extension must meet Building Regulations rules for thermal efficiency. This means that your choice of window, wall construction, insulation and ventilation will all be affected. This could have an impact on the entire design. For example, an all-glass extension may require expensive double or triple glazing to meet the requirements.
If you’re thinking about extending your home remember to use our handy MyLABC tool to contact your local authority building control team for guidance and advice. All you have to do is put in your postcode to access their details and Homeowner Guides.