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Having your house extended can seem like a minefield at the best of times. Simply sticking a box on the side of your property might be functional in terms of giving you more space, but ill-designed extensions can be both an eyesore and a missed opportunity to really maximise your house's resale value. Conversely, quality extensions can be as good an investment as the original house itself.
Here are a few tips to help you make sure the design of your new extension is up to the job.
The best way to identify the kind of extension that will suit your house is to get out and about in your neighbourhood. Make note of the houses that have a similar building design to yours and see if they've had any work done. If you're not the shy type, you could even try knocking on doors and asking the house's occupants about past work.
The key here is that you're getting a good idea of what your extension could actually look like in the flesh. Architect's brochures and even blueprints are all very well for giving you a rough idea, but looking at building designs close to your own and how they have been extended is a great way to work out what you can and can't do with your property, especially if it's your first extension.
Work Out What You Want from Your Extension
It may seem obvious, but it's important to be clear in your own mind as to why you want an extension in the first place. There are many different reasons for wanting a little more living space: you could be expecting a child, building a home office, or simply want a bigger kitchen.
However, it is important to remember that each reason for extending comes with a subtly different set of requirements. For example, if you're looking to give your children more room to themselves, you may want to put in some large shared spaces as well as extra bedrooms. A home office, on the other hand, might be a case of creating something as snug and cosy as possible for you to work from.
Make sure that Your Extension is Legal
It pays to know your Permitted Development (PD) Rights when designing an extension. In effect, PD Rights grant you automatic planning permission for certain types of extension on certain homes, allowing some projects to bypass the long and sometimes arduous process of obtaining planning permission.
The full list of rights is available online, but it might also be worth speaking to your local authority. Many councils offer a consultation service, allowing them to look at your proposed extension and ascertain whether or not it falls within the scope of PD rights or not. Using this service can prevent you from being in a position where you have only found out that you need planning permission after work on your extension has started; a state of affairs which could add a lot of time and cost to proceedings!
Worried that your dream house extension could turn into a nightmare? Speak to a building design professional to get an expert opinion on your plans.