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advice wanted on building an extension (on a house we don't own yet!)

(7 Posts)
sorrysausage Tue 12-Apr-05 11:39:16

I just wondered if anyone else has been through this and could give me a few pointers as to what to do, and in what order. We sold our house and couldn't find anything to buy so are currently renting. I went to view a house to buy this morning which was really nice, but only had a downstairs bathroom. There would be plenty of room to extend the property upstairs and put in an extra bedroom and a bathroom but I don't really know how to go about things. Do I need to get planning permission - but I don't want the house if I can't get it - do I need a builder first or an architect or surveyor? Are there any sources of information/websites available to the novice out there? Any help would be gratefully received!!! Ta

moschops Tue 12-Apr-05 11:42:50

if you can.......look at other properties on the road......have any of them obviously had extensions?
if so then there is every possibility you will get permission....

it is worth phoning the planning department of your local council and asking them a few questions.....

we haven't built an extension but have done alterations....

someone will be along in due course who can offer some better advice on this for you!!

sorrysausage Tue 12-Apr-05 16:36:48

thanks moschops - anyone else got experience of this?

ButtonMoon Tue 12-Apr-05 16:51:14

We are looking to do something similar to our next house as we did with this one but until you have put proper plans in for planning permission and had it granted there are no certainties, I'm afraid. Moschops is right though...most planning depts have a duty officer who you can go and have a chat to who will give you some advice about whther it is worth going for or not. Def have a look at other similar properties in the area. When we did it we spoke to planning dept firts, then got an architect to come and have a look to tell us what sort of things could be done...they should be able to tell you about all the different bilding regs etc and constraints, for eg would there be any reason for the neighbours to object, light/45 degree rule, does the extension have to be set back from the front of the property of can it be flush etc If you go onto your local council's website you should be able to find info on development and planning, it should have all the basic info you need.

Gizmo Tue 12-Apr-05 17:07:08

I've built an extension on my last house and am thinking of another conversion on this one.

There are two issues, basically: firstly whether what you want can work with the structure of the house and secondly whether the planners will allow it.

For the first, I would suggest taking some measurements of the house and drawing out a very rough plan of what you want (don't forget to allow for the thickness of the walls). Then find a nice builder (or more than one if you have the time) and take him along on an inspection to see if your plans are feasible. If you find a good builder, they should be able to make suggestions if any of your plans don't work.

The advantage of taking a builder, rather than an architect, at this stage, is that you can get a rough cost from him so if the whole thing is going to cost more than the house you can beat a retreat! Just remember some builders are better problem solvers than others, so if one says it can't be done and that doesn't ring true, it might be worth trying another.

On the second issue - planning - moschops is right: if there are other houses in the same street with extensions of the type you want that is a very good start. You need to go and talk to your local planning officer: don't worry, most of those I've met are very nice and normally start from the idea that they want you to submit something that they can approve.

They will want to know what the house looks like now and what it will look like when done, so as well as your floor plans, it's worth taking some photos to show them the starting point. They will give you advice about what sort of things they will consider before they accept or reject the proposal. Make notes, 'cos that stuff is useful: you might even find that you can do what you want under what is known as 'permitted development' ie you can do the work without needing planning consent.

To actually make the application, your options are to use an architect, an architectural planner, or do the drawings yourself. I wouldn't recommend the last option, because it's a chore and as laymen we can't specify the correct materials on the plans as architects or technicians can. So you are left in the hands of your builder to make the plans work, which is fine if you trust your builder, but may be putting all your eggs in one basket....

An architect is trained to make the space work really well from the POV of functionality and aesthetic appearance, as well as the practical details of what materials to use, what will get through building regs (see below), what loading the existing foundations can take etc. They can also project manage the build for you, if it is a big job: their fee structures vary depending on what you employ them to do.

An architectural technician won't necessarily bring the aesthetic/practical elements to the design - they will draft plans that make your ideas stand up in engineering terms and will allow you to make planning applications and building regs applications.

It typically takes 8 weeks to consider a planning application, so it is just about feasible to make an application before you make an offer/complete on the deal, but it will probably cost you £150 - £250 in application fees, plus the costs of getting the plans drawn up (£500 - 2000 depending on whether you are using a technician or architect) plus your vendor will know you have an application in (because you have to serve a notice on them) so it might weaken your negotiating position if you're that way inclined.

Blimey what a rant I hope you find a crumb of useful information in there. In summary I would say, take your time and plan everything (where the light fittings will go, flooring, bathroom fixtures, what furniture goes where) obsessively as early as possible - it will make the project go much easier.

Oh and do add a contingency of 20% to your original budget. Because things do go wrong, even in my projects ....

moschops Tue 12-Apr-05 20:33:00

i had another thought........check with the estate agent......when we bought our property we had to ask, but when we did found out that our property had planning permission for conversion downstairs. its possible the current owners have applied/looked into extending the property themselves. it may well be on file that it has outline planning permission or that it is a possibility. its worth asking just because its a good selling point as far as estate agents are concerned but they might not think to point it out.

sorrysausage Tue 12-Apr-05 21:27:30

Wow - this is all really useful - thank you so much everyone who's taken the time to reply. I rang the local planning department this afternoon who have told me that I can write to them asking whether planning permission would probably be granted before we go ahead and do the full application. They also suggested that I contact the seller to see if the foundations were built to withstand an extension or not. Now the really tricky thing - I need to find a builder to come and look at it with me... Thanks again

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