27 October 2022

How to avoid these five home extension nightmares

By Brooke Crisp Manager

A building extension is a fantastic way to add space and value to your home, all while improving your overall lifestyle. But although the long term rewards are high, planning and constructing your extension can be full of challenges. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most common problems that can turn your dream extension into a nightmare – and how to avoid them.

1. Planning permission problems

The issue:

Before you can start building, you need to have the right permissions in place. Planning regulations need to be respected, and if you build without permission, you could end up having to tear down your extension and start again!

Not getting your application in early enough or correctly could cause hold ups in your schedule, as your local council could take weeks to grant permission – and if you’ve made any mistakes, you may need to re-submit the application and go through the whole process again.

The solution:

Put planning permission at the top of your to-do list and discuss it with your architect and builder during the early planning stages, so you’re fully prepared. The type of extension you’re having may fall under your permitted development rights or need full planning permission – either way you should aim to have this sorted out well in advance of booking in the work so it doesn’t cause any delays down the line.

2. Delays

The issue:

Even with the right permissions in place, delays are often a challenge for home renovators –­ especially in today’s economic climate. Supply chain issues continue to have a knock-on effect on the construction industry, and materials that don’t arrive on time could push your project back by longer than you expect if your contractor has to rearrange their schedule – potentially costing you more money.

The solution:

Make sure you order your materials as early as possible so they can be stored safely on site, ready for use. Discuss delivery deadlines with your builder so you can build lead times into your project schedule and consider how you can protect yourself financially from unexpected delays through your extension insurance.

At Renovation Plan, we offer flexible cover options so any delay will cause the least possible disruption. For example, all our policies come with two weeks of free cover as standard, plus we offer short or long term cover options, from 3 months to 36 months, so you can rely on robust protection throughout your project – however long it takes.

3. Underestimating budgets

The issue:

Home extensions are costly enough without underestimating the bills you’ll have to pay. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for renovators to end up spending more than they planned, whether due to higher costs of materials, unexpected delays, mistakes on site, or remedial work to your home that’s hard to predict before the build. Sometimes budget troubles can simply be down to poor communication with your contractors. But, ultimately, underestimating costs can risk your extension being left unfinished.

The solution:

Make sure you have a contingency fund. This provides an invaluable buffer if you need to spend more than you originally planned. It’s also beneficial to be as clear as possible with your contractors about the works you want, for example the fixtures and fittings you require, so you don’t push up your costs by changing your mind mid-build. On the same note, asking your contractors to be upfront about costs is important – ensuring you have fixed prices so you can budget accordingly.

Extension insurance can also help save you from any unexpected (and exorbitant) costs if anything goes wrong on-site that’s not covered by your contractors – for example, storm damage, a fire or even damage to a neighbouring property when you can’t prove fault.

4. Theft

The issue:

Tools are expensive – and easily pilfered. At Renovation Plan, claims for theft are among the most common we see. This is often due to the fact that when your home is being altered, its security can be compromised, so it’s easier for opportunists to take advantage – from gaining illicit access to grabbing unsecured tools. Not only does theft slow your project down, but it can push costs up, for example additional tool rental costs.

The solution:

Your first port of call should be to secure your site. This means never leaving expensive equipment unattended, and ensuring any gaps in walls or unfinished windows and doors are kept as secure as possible when no one is working on your home. It’s also a good idea to keep track of everyone who should be working on your site at any one time, so it’s easier to spot if someone shouldn’t be there.

All these measures will help, but theft is still a risk – so make sure you have good extension insurance in place so any stolen equipment can be claimed for, and any disruption kept to a minimum.

5. Unreliable contractors

The issue:

What happens to your home if mistakes are made during the build, and your contractor won’t take responsibility? What about if they go bust during the project and you end up with an unfinished extension without the funds to put it right? The contractors you choose can make or break your home extension, so it’s imperative you get it right. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to pick the wrong builders, from not doing enough research beforehand to going for the cheapest option.

The solution:

Before you choose your contractor, you should do your due diligence. This means researching different suppliers, reading reviews, asking for references and obtaining several quotes. You can even ask to see examples of their previous work or speak to previous clients to get a good idea of how professional they are.

At the end of the day, a good contractor will take pride in their work and will likely have a loyal and skilled team, as well as a problem-solving approach. They should be happy to work to a pre-agreed contract and payment schedule.

Keep yourself protected

A building extension can really transform your home – so help keep the hassle to a minimum. The right extension insurance can give you the peace of mind you need to crack on with your project safe in the knowledge you’re protected if anything goes wrong.

At Renovation Plan, we can offer specialist advice on your exact needs and find cover options from a wide-ranging market at competitive prices. And if you ever need to claim, we’ll offer personal help to get you back on your feet as soon as we can. Just get in touch to find out more.

Want to find out more about extension insurance?

You can find further useful information on our extension insurance page. If you’re not ready to get a quote yet and would prefer to speak to someone, you can find the details by clicking here. We can’t wait to find out all about your project!