Pondering a big extension - where to start?(5 Posts)
We have vague ideas of knocking down the garage, using the gap to give access to the back of the house, extending it and redesigning the garden, then rebuilding the garage with a second storey on it.
It's a very exciting idea but we don't know how to get a great, imaginative architect? We think we have a good builder but its the developing of the ideas we need help with.
We''re in South Yorkshire - where do we start?
Talk to the planning dept at your local council first!
Then figure out budget, talking to bank if necessary.
Finding architects - ask around and try lists of local ones and look at their web sites, then get a couple over for a chat. We found half couldn't comprehend a budget of under 6 figures for our extension, whereas the guy we went with said "well with 50k you're talking this, and these are the bits we can then discuss... but what I'd love to do is this...and if you are happy to finish it inside, I know a builder who may be able to do it for not much more..."
Allow contingency budget of 10% no matter what!
We did an extension 7 years ago. We weren't planning on moving and didn't see it as an investment, more a need for the next 25 yrs so didn't get local EAs in but friends in a similar position did. I drew my plans up as I'd been dreaming of them for three years then got a drafts person rather than architect. Our friends got info on the ceiling price for houses in their road as sometimes the investment can't be fully realised, they got info on what people were looking for - extra room downstairs or a garage etc and found all the feedback helpful in forming how they would proceed.
I found a long list of architects / architectural drawers by going into my local council planning portal and looking at plans that had been submitted. It's easy to see who is involved in projects the same scale as yours and who has the most experience in your local planning concerns. Plus your builder might recommend some?
Sorry - started writing this and then re-read your question and realised that the stuff below would be for you further down the line...however, I'd almost finished it anyway so here's my two penitents worth (sorry!):
- Get an EA involved early on to give a view on the proposed design. For example, we live in a chalet bungalow with flat roof dormers and were going to replicate the same in the extn. The EAs advice was to put pitch roofs on the new and also retro fit to the old. The reason being that the size of the ext. would take it into a price bracket where we would be competing with a different set of houses and despite having more square feet, ours would look pretty crap against them which would give a bad initial impression to potential buyers (she actually brought some along for us to see for comparison). She also suggested adding an oak-framed porch to match the existing garage. We included both bits of advice.
- Don't be too despondent trying to get builders interested. Many of them are booked well ahead so give ball-park figures but nothing detailed until you're ready to go. If they know they're competing against many, they won't put too much time into pricing. As you go through tender, shortlist a couple and get them to fix the price against the specification
- Work out what you will want your main contractor will do and what you will do yourself. My advice would be to source visible things like kitchens / bathrooms, tiles, door handles, flooring etc but get the builders price to include fitting them.
- Start thinking about your specification as early as you can - the builder will need it to give you an accurate price. Think about doors (internal and external), Windows, skirting, architrave, electric sockets, switch plates, lighting, type of heating system, underfloor heating so on and so on. In a nutshell, once you've signed up with a builder, they've kinda got you over a barrel if you want to add / change the specification so include as much as you can.
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