Extension - What do we need to know?(6 Posts)
5 years ago DH bought our first and forever home in the gorgeous village where I grew up and where my parents still live which is ideal for child care for DD. When we bought it we had always anticipated extending as its a very small two bedroom cottage. We didn't however anticipate the current financial climate!
Basically, we have no experience of extending and need to know the honest truth about what is involved, costs and pitfalls etc. We are very lucky to have a friend who is an architect who is currently working on some plans for us.
We will be putting a third bedroom and family bathroom on top of a current single story extension. We would also like to put in new central heating and the house will need to be rewired.
We would like to build as quickly and cost effectively as possible. What do we need to know?
Am watching with interest and hoping someone can comment!
We did a single story extension a few years ago, so not sure I can add much
Get a recommended builder - ours was great. Document everything and get builder to sign when money is handed over. Be generous in tea and biscuits for the crew - it's a small cost in the overall scheme of things for goodwill.
Be prepared for contingencies and over runs - at least 10% in the budget for those.
If your architect friend has done projects like this before can they recommend some builders you can get quotes from? As well as cost, you want builders you can rely on.
Are you planning to live there while the building work goes on? After our experience last year of having less intrusive work than you are planning, I would say you'd be mad to ;) If your parents still live nearby could you move there at least to sleep/eat wash while the work is at it worst? Or rent somewhere. if you are nearby that would help so you can turn up to the building site when (yet another) a decision needs to be made and talk to the builders face to face.
Planning permission needed? You'll need someone from the council to come out and check it's all legal at some points in the process. I'm worryingly vague on this - our builder and architect organised all that side of things - but I think I mean building control. If it is needed, allow at least 3 months.
Costs - no idea how much what you are planning would be, again I'd ask the architect to draw up plans for a certain budget, then check the quotes you get from builders are close enough to this. Then add several thousand on top. Plus some more. We didn't think of so many extras in our budget (curtains, cost of decorator, cost of flooring, new/extra furniture) and this was after some months of making lists of everything.
To keep costs down you would have to project manage the build yourselves. Ultimately this would involve finding and scheduling workmen, organising when materials are needed on site and scheduling deliveries, paying all involved, checking everything is running smoothly. We were far too inexperienced to attempt this (no contacts, no experience of building work beyond basic DIY), and the only people I know who have considered this are on their third extension.
Assuming no reinforcing had to be done on the single story, I'd expect a build time of 2-3 months, plus extra for delays (weather, unexpected discoveries). Keep the time needed down by moving out, then the builders won't have to work round you and make things vaguely habitable at the end of the day.
And I completely agree with Hermione - keep records (we had a piece of A4 paper stuck to the wall, when I gave the builder money, he signed and dated the amount he received) and keep the tea/coffee/biscuits stocked.
I'd recommend a portaloo as well.
If your friend is willing then ask her / him to provide you with 'full duties' i.e. not just the drawings but handle the statutory consents and tendering / contract administration.
I usually split domestic commissions into various categories and the client can decide to take all, or pick and choose. I'm sure your friend operates a similar stsyem.
1. Drawings for consents including 'as existing', site and location plans.
2. Handling the forms and application processes for statutory consents including Building Regulations and (depending upon what is proposed), Planning Consent and Listed Building Consent. Be very clear, they are three independent permissions.
2a You may also need a party wall agreement if your work will affect the neighbours walls or foundations.
3. Tender exercise comprises preparation of detailed construction drawings including services - plumbing, heating, lighting, electrics etc and any stuctural details (coordinating engineers or sub-contract design) plus a detailed specifcation, vetting potential contractors, verifying the received tenders and preparing a tender report.
4. Contract admin includes preparing the contract, monitoring the work for quality and progress, agreeing stage payments and any variations and ensuring the finished job complies with the design and all the statutory consents.
For myself it's nice to have the involvement with clients and their contractor that 'full duties' brings and also helps me to ensure my design is fully realised however I have to say that most clients - to date at least - have saved themselves my fees and managed on 1 or sometimes, 1 & 2 only.
The practical advice given by the contributors above, on living through a building contract in one's own home is very pertinent.
Best of luck!
It WILL cost more than you think.
(now eating value baked beans in my shiny new kitchen extension! Worth it though. )
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