7 Things to Ask Before Starting an Extension or Loft Conversion

Building an extension or loft conversion can be an exciting project. It is a great opportunity to be innovative and put your personal stamp on your property.

But before you rush into it, there are a few things you should consider. Planning may be frustrating but it’s highly likely to save you time and money.

To help you get organised, we’ve come up with 7 things to ask before you start a loft conversion or extension.

1. Why do I want a conversion or extension?

There are several common reasons why people decide to extend their living space. One is to improve their long-term home. If you want to stay in your property permanently, it’s worth investing in a high-quality conversion or extension.

Other people decide to build to raise their home’s value and make a profit when they sell. If you’re planning to do this, it is worth talking to an estate agent to discover how much value your building work could add. You can us this to work out your budget. It will help you prevent over-spending and missing out on making money.

People also build an extension or convert their loft to create short-term space. You might want to do this if you need a larger home but are not financially ready to move. This is often a good immediate solution. But before you do it, work out how much moving home could set you back compared to how much you’re going to spend on building work. You might find that it makes more sense to save your cash for moving rather than spending it on a property you are going to leave.

2. How much do I want to spend?

This might seem obvious, but it is surprising how many people tell their architect what they want but not what they can afford. The end result is often plans that seem ideal but are way out of budget.

If you’re thinking about building a loft conversion or extension, think carefully about how much you want to spend. Then let your architect know your budget before they get started on a design. This can save time and ensure you don’t spend more than you want to.

3. What design style would I like?

As soon as you’ve determined your budget, it is time to consider the style that you would like. It’s common to assume that your architect must have some idea of what you have pictured in your mind. But as there are numerous styles and designs on the market now, it is important to give your architect as much information as possible.

If you’re stuck for design inspiration, have a look at our other articles or check out homestoinspire.co.uk.

4. When would I like the work done?

People generally want to get construction work done in the spring or summer time. It’s usually better weather then so the work should take less time. Warmer weather should also make having people in and out of your house less of a hassle.

Whenever you decide to get the building work done, ensure you begin the process early enough. Surveying, design, applying for planning permission, applying for building regulations approval and finding a building contractor all take time. An average extension or conversion project can take about 7 months to get started. So if you want your project up and running by a specific date, it is best to be realistic and start as soon as you can.

5. Will it affect my neighbours?

Whether you want to or not, it is important to think about your neighbours when you are planning your building project. If the work will affect a party wall you share, you will require their cooperation. You also may need access to their land.

Even if neither of these things are relevant, it’s still worth getting your neighbours on board with your project. Take the time to explain to them what you’re going to do and see if they have any objections. If they do, you might be able to alter your plans slightly to prevent them potentially raising a material planning objection and delaying your project. This will also help you to create or preserve a good relationship with your neighbours, which is never a bad thing.

6. Does anywhere else in my home need work?

Before you start your loft conversion or extension, think about whether anywhere else in your home needs more work. Particularly look at the areas that are close to your project. Getting all the work you need done at the same time can save you time and money and minimise the amount of time you have tradespeople in your home.

7. Can I do anything to improve my energy efficiency?

When you’re preparing to get work done is a good time to review your property’s energy efficiency. Evaluate whether improvements are needed and consider setting up new cavity wall or loft insulation or changing your windows or heating system. These adjustments will cost you money in the short term but can considerably lower your energy bills. And if you are feeling innovative, think about installing solar panels or a heat pump. It will be easier to improve your home’s energy efficiency as part of a job you’re doing already, rather than afterwards.

Asking yourself these 7 questions will help you to determine what you want from your extension or loft conversion. You can then explain this to your architect, who should be able to come up with some plans that you’re happy with.

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