Q. I’m thinking about extending my house rather than selling and buying a larger property, have you any advice regarding this particularly with regards to seeking planning permission and whether this will add much value to my home once the project is complete?
A. An extension can radically improve a property. Bigger, better space and extra rooms can add value, and make a house more attractive to buyers if you decided to sell at a later date. If you are making structural changes with the purpose of adding value as well as space, you should first find out the current market price of your property, as well as its potential value once the changes have been made. Otherwise, your hard work and cash may not reap rewards. Additionally, think about less radical changes that can be made – partitioning walls can be knocked down or put up, and bigger windows can make a house appear more spacious. However, in order to really boost what you have, an extension may be the best option. Rising property prices with a premium being put on space can make extensions a wise investment. However, this is a major project and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Call in professionals to get the job done properly, as there are as you rightly mentioned important planning restrictions and regulations which need to be followed. Ask friends if they can recommend an architect and builders. It is really important that you locate the best people, as a sub-standard extension can devalue a property. The National Federation of Builders (NFB) can provide you with a list of registered builders in your area. A builder that belongs to a respected trade organisation will have to comply with membership standards. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) provides a list of registered architects. Although a modern extension can look good on an old house, when it comes to selling on it is important to appeal to the average buyer’s taste. Therefore it is more advisable for an extension to match the architectural style of the existing house. Be strategic: Extra bathrooms and large kitchens are usually good investments in family-sized homes, and a garage in a busy, urban area will also add value. The room that usually benefits the most from enlarging is the kitchen. Adding a kitchen/diner creates the dream kitchen most people want and provides extra space. Kitchen extensions also provide the opportunity to extend upwards – an additional bedroom can be built on top at the same time. Loft conversions are another good way of enlarging your house. Victorian or 1930s houses are ideal for these because of their high roof pitches. Prices will vary depending on how many bedrooms are added and whether an en-suite is built. A loft room will also require less planning and building requirements than a bedroom- do the research and speak to chartered surveyors and architects.