23 February 2023

Five top home extension tips from renovation experts

By Brooke Crisp Manager

Extending your home is an excellent way to open up space and add value to your property, all while making your day-to-day lifestyle that little bit better. From cooking in the big kitchen you’ve always wanted to adding a much-needed extra bedroom or bathroom, your home extension is full of possibility.

But a building extension can be a big project to take on, and there are plenty of aspects you’ll need to plan for in advance. So we’ve reached out to experts from home renovation service Resi for their five top tips for extending a home.

1. Make the most of your money

Budgeting correctly for your extension is vital, or you could find yourself out of pocket sooner than you think. You’ll need to budget for larger and smaller aspects of the works, as well as considering who will be responsible for different parts of the project.

Richard Morgan, Design Director at Resi, offers the following advice: “When thinking of a budget, consider it a shopping list of items that’s either on the builder to supply and fit, or on you to supply and decide who fits.” For example, it’s common for the customer to supply something like a kitchen – but there are pros to having your builder supply and fit everything. “It’s their responsibility to deliver and provide the guarantees,” Richard explains. “But this will cost a bit more. To get the most out of your money, you will have to do more of the work, research and supply yourself.”

With that in mind it’s important to plan ahead when it comes to selecting fixtures like kitchens and bathrooms, as well as your floor and wall finishes, appliances, electrical fittings, heating solutions and similar. This will all help your budget allocation. Don’t forget to add necessary overheads like your building extension insurance too – if anything goes wrong with your project, this type of cover helps protect both the works in progress and your existing home.

2. Seek proper permission

The planning permission you’ll need will depend on the design of your extension, its location and the property type. Richard points out that “if you own a flat, you will have to apply for full planning permission. However, most properties have permitted development allowances that make extending, in theory, more straightforward.”

Planning consultant Jordan Macann adds that even if you can extend under your permitted development rights, “we always advise obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate to give you peace of mind that the work you are carrying out is lawful.”

Richard agrees. “Factors like materials, scale, neighbouring context, overlooking, location such as a conservation area or greenbelt – these will all affect the application type.” He points to the planning portal as a source of helpful resources, and advises looking up planning applications with your local council to see what permissions have been granted nearby.

Ultimately, if you need planning permission, Jordan says it’s best to employ “an architect or planning consultant with experience in this field to submit and manage this process for you, particularly for more complex applications.” This way, you have the best chance of having your application approved.

3. Choose contractors with care

Your main contractor will be carrying out anything related to the building works, potentially including the installation of all finishes if you don’t want to do these yourself. As such, it’s important to select your contractor carefully.

To get the best price, you need “to be clear on the scope, and have detailed drawings produced that provide a structural solution compliant with building regulations,” Richard says. “If things are left as assumptions, they could be overpriced or missed entirely – causing extras or additions on site that push up the expected budget.” For any structural work, you should look to get an engineer involved too.

He recommends comparing tenders from different contractors like for like. “Ask questions to get them to a place where everything expected is included, then you can negotiate down on various items if required, or simply ask for a best price.”

But firstly it’s important to understand what’s included and what’s not within the tender. Richard explains: “You may be able to alter the design or materials based on advice by the contractor, which can reduce cost.” For example, matching building methods and materials to the preferences of your contactor could save you money – options that Richard says are “all worth exploring.”

4. Add value where you can

A building extension will always help add value to your home, but you can take certain steps for maximum impact when planning your building extension. “Alter the layer to suit modern needs,” suggests Richard. “Remodel the floor space to make it flow better, or add floor area to key habitable spaces, for example an open plan kitchen dining room.” Adding a bedroom via a loft conversation is another key move – “just gaining floor area by expanding the footprint” is enough to add value.

Even something as simple as adding a porch can make a difference. “The appearance of the front of the property does count,” Richard says. “Adding simple yet practical things like porches can help to provide storage space and make the front look more attractive to a buyer.”

Storage is a crucial factor to consider, according to Richard. “It’s important for growing families with children, so consider this along with utility rooms so there are clear areas to store things.” Converting wasted spaces like garages for storage or office space as people work from home more can also add long-lasting value. And of course, choosing new finishes and decorating old and tired spaces all have an impact.

5. Consider employing a project manager

If budget allows, Richard recommends appointing a project manager or a contract administrator for your building extension to help ensure the build runs to time within your desired budget. “Often the most common option is full project management that’s charged as a percentage of the contract sum,” he explains. “A lighter touch is contract administration to arrange the contracts, monitor the program and act as mediator if and when disputes or additions arise.”

Of course, the scale of your extension will dictate the need for this service. “Larger more complex builds will have many things to organise and get right, so having an extra pair of experienced hands will help things go smoothly,” says Richard.

Don’t forget building extension insurance

Whatever options you choose for your home extension, you can always talk to us about your building extension insurance. With different levels of cover and flexible policy terms starting from just three months, our renovation insurance lets you focus on building your extension with peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, you’ve got the right insurance to cover it. Just get in touch to find out more.