lessons learned from having an extension(19 Posts)
OK about to start planning an extension - need sisterly advice from all ye who have gone before me . Read the starting an extension thread with interest but what I want to know if what would you be saying 'oh you don't want to do it like that' or 'I wish I'd' or 'I love this bit'
so from planning, architects, builders, kitchen design, best products ....off you go
About to start here too, so watching with interest!
What kind of extension are you considering?
An architect thinks of everything you don't. They really know how best to make use of a space.
Remember what ideas you had when you bought the house and if you can don't do half-measures when trying to realise them. I would say you don't need an architect if you're capable of preparing some passable drawings to clarify what you want. Be open to suggestions from the builders to improve on your ideas. Plan everything to the nth degree - from what goes in which cupboard to what furniture goes where to make sure layout, sockets, lights etc.. all work.
Marking my place here.. We are about to plan for our kitchen extension going out a further 4mtrs and a smaller side utility extension.
Make sure you have worked out what details you want. Do you want to move sockets, add extra ones, which was do you want your doors to swing, how deep do you want your skirting boards, what doors do you want.
It was all the little things like this that I didn't plan and the builders were constantly asking me what I wanted. In the end, I got to the point of not caring and said do what you want (regret that).
The other thing is, make sure all your neighbours are on board and keep them in the loop. (Maybe sweeteners like with bottles of wine are an idea?) Building work is a pain, and you don't want to fall out over mess/noise etc.
Be prepared for dust to reach every surface in your house. You will open a kitchen cupboard and find the shelf under a film of dust.
Don't spend every spare second on house stuff, have couple/family time too. Hugely important not to let the house swallow you up.
If in doubt of anything then ask. Don't keep silent and hope.
Be prepared for it to take far longer than originally planned.
Don't agree to any work where the price is not fixed, and never pay up front. It should be X amount when they dig the foundations, X amount at damp proof course and so on. Nothing to start!
Decorate before skirting goes in, it makes things a million times faster.
Include practical solutions, eg we have light tubes in a landing that has no natural light.
Be proud of the house you are designing.
Get a brave architect. Ours was not an ideas man - to be fair we employed him as he knew the vagaries of our planning dept inside out. But in hindsight we wish we'd pushed for a little more adventurous design.
Think about how long you want to live in a house and how you want to live there. Are the kids small now? How will open plan work with stroppy teens whose mess you have to look at while you're making dinner? Architect will help you figure out current way of living and how to build the space so that you can easily change it around for how you'll need the space later.
We bought our current house because we saw an architect's sketches on how it could be extended. We haven't done the extention yet - but love the potential we know is there especially how an extension would incorporate the house and the outdoor living area/garden.
Spend as much time as you can (and money if need be) on detailed drawing and specifications - eg: we had detailed electrical drawings for each room that we being worked on showing exact positions of lights, sockets etc. Meant that everything was priced accurately and we didn't end up with extra costs.
We paid the architect to prepare a full tender pack of drawings and documents which allowed the builders to price comprehensively and made comparing easier. Build cost us what we expected and the only additional costs were where I chose to spend more on certain fittings eg: used slightly more expensive door handles in the end, but the doors used were the particular Howdens oak ones we had specified in the tender package.
We are right in the middle of a complete new build, so a lot of similar suggestions to what has already been said.
Agree with Chapsy, we specified almost everything, and we have a price for the whole job, page by page. It has meant its much easier for us to keep on budget and equally if we overspend on one area, we can try to recoup on another area.
we are about to plan and order the kitchen, and also choose flooring for whole ground floor
all marvelous ideas - have already started a new sheet on my spreadsheet named 'mumsnet ideas' !
now- 'my best decision' and 'my best product '....
We are using an interior architect to plan our extension. She has done interior design work for me and done our bathroom refit so I am totally confident in her services and that she is worth the money. I am scared but clocking all the ideas on this thread!
My advice would be: listen to the builders and architects but also make sure they are listening to you. They will have their own ideas which may or may not accord with yours. And they may also have at least half an eye on the marketing/ website pics your project will generate for them ...
Be careful when adding any 'extras' outside the original agreement - we ended up paying way over the odds for this sort of stuff - 'cash' because the builder just happened to be on site and could do it there and then - it would have been cheaper to wait and get alternative quotes.
Make sure the pitch of the roof is steep enough or else you will still be having random leaks four years later...or if you have to have a shallow pitch, get it tiled really really well.
Go on holiday for a week at the point at which they knock through from the extension to your house.
Do take the opportunity to re-floor the whole downstairs, despite the cost, because it was well worth doing in retrospect (we did do this so I am feeling smug).
Our extension cost about 30% more and took longer that we expected too.
Flat roofs bring a mort of trouble
Be prepared to find dust everywhere afterwards (including inside the shut doors of wardrobes inside upstairs rooms whose doors had been closed at all times)
We are just nearing the end of ours and I'm delighted with it.
Tips - Hire an architect at the start to get the best use of space (unless it's a really simple box on the back maybe).
- Use builders/tradespeople who are recommended and who's work you can see (we used a local builder who had built extensions throughout the village).
- if you're not happy with something as you go along SAY SO! I've had to have words a couple of times to make sure things went as I wanted them, even if it meant work needed redoing.
- work out what is most important to you and spend the money there. We've gone for a 'cheaper' kitchen from Benchmarx rather than the handmade wooden one I dreamed of, but we've splashed out on appliances and the flooring.
- agree with whoever said keep the neighbours sweet! We've put up scaffolding in their garden and had vans parked outside their house for 2 months now, must be a complete pain for them.
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