Extending Your Home in 2024

Discover essential tips for extending your home in 2024. Learn about hiring architects, securing planning permission, navigating building regulations, managing costs, and avoiding common pitfalls. Get expert insights for successful home extensions in Canterbury, Whitstable, Sevenoaks, and Harrogate.

1. Getting Your Paperwork in Order

Hire a Professional Designer

One of the first steps in planning your house extension is to hire a professional designer or architect. Without professional input, you might not maximise your home’s potential or stay within your budget.

  • Maximise Your Space: A professional designer will ensure that your extension not only looks great but also makes the best use of available space.
  • Stay Within Budget: Experienced designers can help you achieve your vision while keeping costs under control. They can suggest cost-effective materials and solutions that you might not have considered.
  • Achievable Plans: Having a professional put pen to paper allows you to understand what’s achievable. They will provide detailed plans that clarify the scope of work and help you manage your costs more effectively.


Planning Permission

Before starting any construction, it’s crucial to determine whether your project requires planning permission. While many smaller extensions fall under permitted development rights, larger projects usually need full planning permission.

  • Your architect or designer should be able to advise if planning permission is required.
  • Check with Local Authorities: Different councils have specific rules, especially if your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building.
  • Submit Your Application: If planning permission is required, prepare and submit your application to the local planning authority. This process can take up to 2 weeks to validate and a further 8 weeks to determine, so plan accordingly.
  • Delays: Local authority resources are extremely stretched and underfunded, leading to planning decisions overrunning by several weeks, even for the simplest applications.


Building Regulations

Regardless of whether your extension needs planning permission, it must comply with building regulations. These regulations ensure the safety, health, and welfare of the building’s occupants.


October 2023 Amendments

Recent amendments to building regulations that came into effect in October 2023 place more responsibility on you as the client for extending your home in 2024. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Client Responsibilities

    : As the client, you must make suitable arrangements for planning, managing, and monitoring the project. This includes allocating sufficient time and resources to ensure compliance with all relevant requirements. Its important that you read the new legislation requirements here.

 

  • Ensuring Compliance: The purpose of the new regulation is to ensure that any building work fully adheres to The Building Regulations. This means you need to employ competent professionals for both the design and construction of your project.

 

  • Roles and Agreements:
    • The builder can become the Principal Contractor, and the designer can become the Principal Designer. You must have a written agreement with each party if they are carrying out these roles.
    • For a designer to act as Principal Designer, they will need to monitor the works on-site. You do not have to employ your designer as the Principal Designer; you may agree that your builder takes on this role. However, this agreement must be in writing.
    • If your builder acts as Principal Designer, they must employ a qualified Principal Designer to make any necessary amendments to the plans.
  • Approval Process: Submit your plans to the local building control body or an approved inspector for approval. This involves checks at various stages of construction to ensure compliance.

 

  • Amendments and Changes: If your builder wishes to make amendments or change the construction method, these changes should be agreed upon with the designer and submitted as a revised plan to building control.

 

  • Consequences of Non-Compliance:
    • Building Control may withhold your compliance certificate, which can prevent you from selling your property.
    • You could face prosecution or fines for failing to comply.
    • There is now civil liability on clients for failure to comply with the duty to complete work to a professional standard. This applies to both the person commissioning the work and subsequent owners. Claims can be brought within 15 years for extensions and refurbishments, and 30 years for the construction or conversion of dwellings.

To mitigate these risks and ensure smooth project execution, we suggest retaining your designer as the Principal Designer. Not only can they monitor works for compliance, but they can also act as your Contract Administrator to help manage your costs on-site. In theory, if you’re not paying your designer to act as Principal Designer, you will be paying someone else regardless.

2. Finding and Hiring a Builder

Research and Shortlist

Finding a reliable builder is crucial for the success of your project. Start by:

  • Seeking Recommendations: Ask friends, family, and neighbours for recommendations.
  • Checking Credentials: Verify that potential builders are registered with reputable trade associations, such as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Obtaining Quotes

Get detailed quotes from at least three builders to compare costs and services. Ensure the quotes are comprehensive and cover all aspects of the project, from materials to labour. Do not accept one-line quotes or lump-sum figures.

Importance of a Contract

Once you’ve selected a builder, formalise your agreement with a contract. This contract should include:

  • Scope of Work: Clearly define what work will be done.
  • Timeline: Outline the start and completion dates.
  • Payment Terms: Specify the payment schedule and terms.
  • Responsibilities: Detail each party’s responsibilities, including who will handle permits and inspections.
  • Dispute Resolution: Include a clause for resolving any disputes that may arise.

A JCT homeowner contract is ideal and acts impartially, covering both you as the client and the builder.


Extending Your Home in 2024

3. Cost and Budget Management

Rising Costs

Inflation and increased costs of materials and labour have made construction more expensive. Material costs are starting to fall, so we should see some build costs start to come down in 2025.

Unexpected Expenses

Unforeseen issues like ground conditions, utility relocations, or structural problems in the existing building can significantly increase costs.

Financing

Securing financing for the project, whether through savings, loans, or remortgaging, can be a challenge.

Regular Monitoring

Keep track of your expenses throughout the project:

  • Weekly Reviews: Regularly review costs with your builder to ensure you stay within budget.
  • Invoices and Receipts: Maintain a file of all invoices and receipts for materials and labour.

Handling Unexpected Costs

Despite careful planning, unexpected costs can arise when Extending your home in 2024. If they do:

  • Discuss with Your Builder: Address any unexpected costs immediately with your builder to understand their impact on your budget.
  • Agree on Work Amendments: Agree on the work amendment and cost before the builder starts that section of work. Leaving it till the end could result in large unforeseen sums.
  • Prioritise Spending: If necessary, prioritise essential elements over optional features to stay within your budget.

4. Supply Chain Issues

Material Shortages

Global supply chain disruptions can lead to shortages of key materials, causing delays and increased costs.

Delivery Delays

Lead times for materials and components can be unpredictable, impacting project timelines.  Enure your builder is placing orders for long lead items well in advance of their requirement. 

5. Labour and Contractor Availability

Skilled Labour Shortage

There is a high demand for skilled tradespeople, which can lead to difficulties in finding reliable contractors. A lot of skilled trades have either left since Brexit or retired due to the pandemic, meaning you could be waiting up to a year to 18 months for your preferred builder.

Quality and Reliability

Ensuring the chosen contractors are reputable and deliver quality work on time is crucial and can be difficult to guarantee.  Be prepared that some of the “cheaper” builders will not meet your level of expectations in terms of finish and reliability.   It is vital that all projects have a JCT contract to protect you as the homeowner and your investment.

Extending Your Home in 2024

6. Final Considerations

Insurance

Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage for the project. This includes:

  • Builder’s Insurance: Confirm that your builder has liability insurance.
  • Home Insurance: Check with your home insurance provider to see if you need additional coverage during construction.

Neighbour Relations

Communicate with your neighbours about your plans, especially if the work will cause disruption. Consider:

  • Party Wall Agreements: If the extension affects adjoining properties, a party wall agreement might be necessary.
  • Minimising Disruption: Plan construction activities to minimise disruption to your neighbours.

Conclusion

Extending your home in 2024 presents numerous challenges, from navigating new building regulations and securing planning permission to managing costs and finding reliable contractors. By hiring a professional designer or architect near you in Canterbury, Whitstable, Sevenoaks, or Harrogate, you can maximise your home’s potential and ensure compliance with all regulations. Proper planning, a comprehensive contract, and regular cost monitoring are crucial for a successful project. Having a successful relationship between client, architect and builder also plays a crucial role, you can read more in our previous blog here. Understanding and mitigating the potential pitfalls, such as regulations, supply chain issues and labour shortages, will help you achieve your vision for a beautiful and functional home extension.

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