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Extending

If you plan to extend, you should

(1) Consult the local planning authority, which will tell you if you need planning permission for the work you want to do and the limitations within which your plans might fall (usually to do with height and volume). Remember that if the property you are buying or have bought is listed or is in a conservation area, it will be subject to more restrictive planning laws.

(2) Consider appointing an architect or surveyor as well as a builder. They quote for the work and tell you whether your vision is achievable.

 

Purchase Procedure
Offer
Conveyancing
Joint Ownership
Extending
Loft Conversion
Boundaries

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(3) Sort out how you are going to finance the project. You may have the cash available or need to borrow. When calculating the cost, include:

Construction costs, including materials, architects' and surveyors' fees and VAT.

New fittings: curtains, carpets, cupboards, shelves, tiles, sinks etc.

Temporary accommodation while the work is being carried out (if necessary).

Add 25 per cent to the maximum amount. However final the estimate seems, extras inevitably appear - either on your side or on that of the builder/architect. Having put a side extension on the kitchen, it suddenly seems irrational not to finish the job and put in new units.

Builders are at the mercy of the building controls officer, who will make regular visits to the site to see that the building work not only meets all the necessary legal requirements but also comes up to the standards set by your local authority. The building controls officer may demand extra foundations under an extension wall, a heavier beam, more drainage - all work or support that was not envisaged by the builder/architect or surveyor. They have no choice but to carry out his demands and the cost of the project inevitably rises. Check to see if you are eligible for any grants.

(5) Plan when and how long the building work will take. Tie the builder/architect/surveyor down to a contract which includes full details of price, cancellation rights and some sort of guarantee as to when the work will start and finish.

(6) Sort out where you are going to live while the work is being carried out. Most builders will move along a lot faster without you in the house - but with your watchful eye appearing daily to check progress and to clear up any problems that they might come across as they carry out work for you.

(7) If you do move out of the property - or don't move in immediately - remember to notify your local authority that the property is vacant. A Council Tax refund is payable on any property uninhabitable for a certain amount of time. Also inform your insurance company as you may find you need to pay less on your insurance at this time or to have a different type of insurance cover. Don't forget to keep your new neighbours informed of what is happening.

 

  Ann Morris author of "A-Z Guide to Property" serialised in the Daily Telegraph