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Extensions have the ability to add value or enhance a home or in most cases, both. Projects can range from extending an existing room, adding additional rooms such as a new kitchen or garden room, or utilising wasted space such as a loft by converting it into an additional bedroom, hobby room or study.

Certain types of work can be carried out that do not require planning permission and these are known as permitted developments rights.  However, it is likely that Building Regulation approval still will be needed and these rights do not apply to some properties including maisonettes and flats/apartments. There are conditions and restrictions attached to permitted development rights, which are dictated by how big and how high an extension is going to be. For example a single storey addition at the back of a property must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than six metres if an attached house and more than eight metres if a detached house. The above sizes are temporary and expire on May 30 2019 when they will revert to three metres and four metres respectively.  The limit on the height of a rear single storey extension is four metres. An extension’s maximum eaves and ridge height should not exceed the height of the existing house. When referring to the original house, it is important to take on board that any space added by past owners since 1948 counts towards the permitted development total. Different permitted development rules can apply in locations such as conservation areas, national parks and Sites of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In addition, councils have the power to curtail what is generally allowed under permitted development right so it is best to check with the local council. Extensions that fall outside of the permitted development rights criteria will be subject to planning permission. More details on this complicated issue are available at the with the information applying to England and Wales.

The value of extensions and home improvements:

Every street or estate has a property price ceiling and it is a good idea to check out what houses in the area have sold for recently. This will establish whether the cost of what is being planned stacks up when it comes to the value it would add to the sale price. Sometimes it is a case of merely cutting back on the luxury of the specifications such as looking for more cost-effective fixtures and fittings, which may still produce a wow factor and vastly improve a room, such as a kitchen or bathroom, but at a price more in keeping with a home’s potential value.

For example are those expensive handmade imported Italian tiles really necessary or could a similar look be achieved with a cheaper alternative?  It always pays to shop around and compare similar designs and styles. A homeowner should ask themselves some key questions that may impact on going ahead with a home renovation, improvement or extension project. These questions include how long they intend to stay in a property.  If a house sale is on not the horizon in the foreseeable future then a more expensive project can become a reasonable idea. However, if a move is likely in a few years’ it is important this is taken into account to make sure that any expenditure generates a decent return. The potential costs and upheaval involved also need to be weighed up against what benefits would be gained. Upgrading and modernising kitchens and bathrooms are desirable improvements as is anything that adds space to a home such as an extension or a loft conversion to an extra bedroom particularly if this also includes an en-suite bathroom. Such home improvements on the whole will not only improve a property’s saleability, but the price as well as long as the correct budget was chosen for the work.

A builder or architect would be able to advise which projects are most worthwhile when it comes to adding value to a property or if it would price the property out of the local market.  They may be able to advise of more cost-effective alternatives that still will achieve the homeowner’s aims and design and style desires. As referred to in previous sections different permissions are a prerequisite for certain home improvements and extensions and it is imperative that a homeowner checks what is required before going ahead. If you live in a listed property then there is a whole new range of issues to be tackled and they need professional help and support to negotiate.

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