Today many people are starting New Year resolutions and many are planning to get those things done they have been putting off. After a Christmas at home is it time to consider getting that new home extension or building project underway. Many people are put off by not knowing where to start? Do you need an architect or a builder first? Well most home owners have some budget constraints so speaking to good reputable builders will give you some idea of if your project can be done in budget. They will also be able to recommend an architect who they have worked with before it is always a good idea to have a good working relationship between your main building contractor and your architect. They will be able to resolve design and site issues between them and will be keen to help each other out and get your building project complete as designed. It is also an ideal time as the design, planning and building regulation process timescales will mean that you are ready to get building in the spring a favoured time for many home owners. You could be showing your friends and family round your beautiful new home extension or completed building project at a summer barbeque. So why not get an easy tick on your new years to do list and get your building project underway in 2013.
There are many ways to make your home extension or renovation project stand out from the norm and you do not need to break the bank. The key is good planning add features like recesses with lighting or mirrors to add a sense of space and quality. Keep things simple use unusual but simple design on skirting boards and door architraves rather than just using off the peg torus mouldings like everyone else. Add a feature wall using individual recesses and alcoves built into display art or interesting items. This is inexpensive but done well , kept simple and in proportion it can really set a project aside from the competition. Use glass not just by adding interesting windows and roof lights but use glass balconies and partitions and internal windows to add both light and a feel of individually design quality. Think carefully about flooring choices engineered wood will help to reflect light and give a feeling of space and improve your spaces light and airy feel. If your project has lots of small rooms or circulation space use the same flooring so the rooms do not feel so small and this helps the project flow. Also consider structural changes like knocking rooms through to give larger and lighter open space living. Are the rooms in the right place? Is it worth moving the kitchen and adding features like large bi-folding doors? Consider the external look be careful about brick choices and finishing to the exterior it is best to either slavishly match the existing or go for a completely different and contemporary feel for a addition like a home extension. Once you have your internal layout confirmed consider how window and doors will look from the outside as well. Does your design look balanced externally or do windows look out of symmetry or unbalanced? Also consider the external landscaping a modern Japanese style garden may look fabulous but does it match the style of your home?
The finance markets continue to tip interest rates to remain low but the property market shows no signs of stellar improvements. So many home owners are deciding to stay put and improve their properties with a home extension or other home improvements. Many home owners look at the options of move or improve and are fearful that they can realise a good asking price for their homes. So once they decide to stay put they look at their current homes and a home extension looks like the best option to improve the space they have. Home extensions start from as little as ten thousand and can in some cases double the size of a property. Many older period homes do not suit modern styles of open plan living and an extension with some of a properties walls replaced with RSJ’s can transform your home. Most home extensions are to the rear or side of a property and often feature patio or bi folding doors opening out onto the garden. The key to a good home extension is to either match the existing construction details well or opt for a contrast. So if you go for a modern and contemporary home extension the use of large glass panels, cedar cladding and modern coloured renders can make a striking statement against traditional brick and tile construction. If you chose to match existing details the devil is in the details, it is no good carefully matching brick types if your building contractor does not take the time to match up the mortar colour joints and brick bonds. When matching period details picking up some of the original details of roof finishing and joinery details can tie in the new build. You have to be careful that the details match well otherwise the new home extension can become a poor pastiche. The key is to find a good contractor so find a good builder who can show you examples of their previous work and references from other customers. Contractors who have worked on similar properties understand what works well and what is less successful. Good building contractors will help with the design details and can make suggestions on which features can add value and improve your home extension.
Many home owners feel that a contemporary home extension will give their home that allusive wow factor. The good thing about contemporary home extensions is that with clever design they can be easier to achieve than matching in period details to a period home extension. Contemporary home extensions use clean lines and simple design while focusing on the maximum amount of natural light. This is often achieved with the use of large glass openings like by folding doors or floor to ceiling simple window design. The use of roof lights is also an option to add that extra light into rooms. With home extensions the challenge is to keep the rooms that have been extended light and airy. So make sure you consider opening up walls between rooms to achieve double aspect natural light. This means that windows face each other on two sides of a room this makes the most of natural day light as the sun moves round and is of particular benefit in autumn and spring. Roof lights let so much more light in than the same size window so they will greatly improve natural light. Even with brick build houses considering a modern smooth render finish this can really improve the look of a contemporary home extension. The clean lines and stark contrast between old brick and a smooth light coloured render can create a real design statement. With new pitched roofs a ridge beam can be used to leave warm roof open ceilings that again adds the feeling of space and light.
When home owners are planning a home extension or other major building works they are often concerned that they will get the quality and detail in the quotations for their building works. With programmes like rouge traders and cowboy builders it highlights the need for proper documentation and the need to check references. It is also a good idea to use a JCT contract although it will require some work on the both the home owners and contractor part prior to the project starting it does provide reassurance for both parties. A home owners JCT contract can be purchased for as little as twenty five pounds and give details of the works. If you are planning major building works to your home or a home extension it may well be the second largest purchase you will make. So it is important that you have a good document to follow that details exactly what works will be carried out and at what cost. It will detail the work to be done and give fixed cost certainty to each element of your building project and you can also add fixed square meterage prices for less quantifiable items. It also details the payment schedule so you know what you should be paying and when, your building contractor can manage then their cash flow through your building project. It details who has the responsibility for professional arrangements like who has the duty of applying for planning permission. You can also stipulate working times and access so having a relaxed start to your weekend is not disturbed by a hammer drill at 8am or contractors wondering into your home to access the toilet or make a cup of tea. The JCT provides a sensible framework for yourself and your building contractor to work to, you have the legal peace of mind that if there is some disagreement you have a document that can be referred back to and a process for resolving any dispute. It also adds credibility to your project with a document you can keep and hand over to a home buyer in the future showing things have been done correctly and the standards the works have been carried out to. The JCT contract has been well used and tested and is respected within the construction industry.
The past year has seen mortgage rates drop in the UK making it increasingly easier for potential property buyers. Recent studies have shown that the average five year fixed rate has reduced in the last year from 5.59 down to a new rate now at 4.89. The five year fixed rate remains a favourite deal amongst first time buyers and people choosing to remortgage for home improvements or a home extension. The mortgage interest rate is only one half of most home buyers or home owner’s wish list. The loan to value rate or the amount of deposit required is often the biggest driver for those wishing to secure a new home loan. With many home owners choosing to stay put and opt for home improvements or a home extension remortgaging is a good option. With home extensions starting from as little as fifteen thousand pounds adding extra space or an extra bedroom can prove far more economically viable than moving house.
It might sound simple but take a little time to plan the size and shape of your extension, will you still be able to get the wheelie bin out, how will it affect the layout and light of your existing home?
Work out the maximum and minim budget for your home extension and reserve some contingency for the costs you forget or unforeseen items.
Spend time with your architect or builder making sure that you get exactly what you want, check all the details how the roof will finish will there be windows that will be difficult to clean and maintain once it is built?
Have a chat with your neighbours about your plans, and make sure you chose a contractor who can work with you and your neighbours to minimise the mess and disruption.
Make sure you have all the correct permissions in place planning applications and building regulations applications, are there any tree preservation orders and have you made the necessary arrangements?
Don’t be afraid to change things before you get started, once a build is underway it can be a lot more difficult and costly.
Make sure you have appointed the correct contractor, check there pervious work and references, have they worked on this type of project before?
Agree with your contractor there hours of work where they will park their vans, place skips and how this will affect your neighbours.
Make sure all costs and extras are agreed prior to the project starting and there is a proper process in place for additional costs or draw down of contingency.