Building a loft conversion or extension can be an exciting project. It’s a great chance to be creative and put your own stamp on your home.
But before you rush straight into it, there are several things that you need to consider. Planning can be frustrating but it’s almost guaranteed to save you time and money in the long run.
To help you get organised and end up with a project that you’re proud of, we’ve come up with 7 questions to ask yourself before you start a loft conversion or extension.
1. Why do I want a conversion or extension?
There are a few common reasons why people choose to extend their home living space. One is to make improvements to their long-term home. If you’re planning on staying in your property permanently, it’s worth investing in a quality conversion or extension.
Alternatively, other people choose to build to add value to their home and make a profit when they sell. If you want to do this, it’s worth speaking to an estate agent to find out how much value your extension or conversion could add. You can then work out your building budget accordingly. This will help you avoid over-spending on the work and missing out on making a profit.
People also convert their loft or build an extension to create short-term space. You might want to do this if you need to move to a bigger property but aren’t financially ready to do so. This can be a good short-term solution. But before you go ahead, work out how much moving house could cost you vs. how much you’re planning to spend on your building work. You might find that it makes more sense to save your money for moving rather than spending it on a property you’re going to leave.
2. How much do I want to spend?
This might sound a bit obvious, but it’s surprising how many people tell their architect what they want but not also what they can afford. The result is often plans that look ideal but are way out of budget.
If you’re planning on creating an extension or conversion, think carefully and come up with a realistic figure you want to spend. Communicate this, along with other specifications, to your architect before they get started with a design. This will save time and ensure you don’t end up spending more than you intend to.
3. What design style would I like?
Once you’ve ascertained your budget, it’s time to think about the style that you want. It’s easy to assume that your architect should have some idea of what you’ve got pictured in your head. But there are so many styles and designs out there now, it’s important to tell your architect as much about what you want as possible.
If you’re stuck for ideas, take a look at our other articles or check out homestoinspire.co.uk.
4. When would I like the work done?
People usually want to get building work done in the spring or summer. It’s usually better weather then so the work should take less time to complete. Warm weather also makes contractors coming in and out of your house less uncomfortable.
Whenever you want your building work done, you should make sure you start the process early enough. Surveys and design, applying for planning permission and building regulations approval and finding and hiring a contractor all take time. An average conversion or extension project could take about 7 months to get started. So if you want your building work finished by a certain date, it’s best to be realistic and start as early as you can.
5. Will it affect my neighbours?
Whether you want to or not, it’s important to consider your neighbours when you’re planning your conversion or extension. If your work will affect a party wall that you share, you will need their cooperation. You also might need access to their land.
Even if neither of these apply, it’s worth getting your neighbours on board with your project. Sit down with them and explain what you’re going to do and ask them if they have any objections. If they have any problems, you may be able to make a small alteration to your plans and prevent them raising a material planning objection and delaying your project. It will also help you to keep on good terms with your neighbours, which is never a bad thing.
6. Do I need work doing anywhere else in my home?
Before you go ahead with your extension or loft conversion, have a check round your home to see if you need work doing anywhere else. Particularly take a look at the areas that border where your building work will take place. Getting all the work you need done at the same time will save you time and money and reduce the amount of time you have tradespeople in your home.
7. Can I do anything to improve my energy efficiency?
If you’re preparing to get work done, it’s a great time to review your property’s energy efficiency. Assess whether improvements are needed and consider installing new cavity wall or loft insulation and replacing your windows and doors or heating system. These modifications will cost you money in the short term but could also shave a significant amount off your energy bills. And if you’re feeling particularly creative, consider installing solar panels or a heat pump. As with doing general work, it’s easiest to improve your home’s energy efficiency as part of a job you’re already getting done, rather than separately.
Asking yourself these 7 questions should help you work out what you want from your extension or loft conversion. You can then communicate this with your architect, who should be able to come up with some plans that you’re happy with.