25 Oct How to extend on a budget in East Finchley and North London
Have you run out of space in your home? Is it groaning at the seams? If you love your house, but dream of having more room to spread out in – for storage, for that office at home or a larger kitchen – then an extension is the answer. But this can be costly, so if you’re not exactly rolling in cash you might be interested to know that there are savings to be made which might mean you can have the extension you want for the budget you have… and that’s what this article’s about.
1. Permitted development vs planning permission
Planning permission can eat into your budget, so the first thing you should do is to determine whether you can extend under ‘permitted development’ instead. This allows homeowners to extend their homes by a certain percentage of the original footprint of the property. Building under permitted development means not having to pay for the planning permission application process and all its associated costs.
2. Design for space rather than awards
If you instruct your builder and architect to create an extension that’s ‘over the top’ in style, size or innovative materials and colours, then you’re asking for a more costly build. Firstly, if you’re going for planning permission this will raise ‘red flags’ and there’s a higher chance of rejection. Then there are the costs of using untried methods or materials and the possibility of objections from neighbours, all of which may require redesigns, reapplications and a longer build process. So, go for simple on the outside and stylish on the inside if you’re working to a budget.
3. Side return vs rear extension
If you own a Victorian/Edwardian property (others may also have this space, but this era is famed for it), then you may have a side return, an area of garden or patio that runs partway down the side of the house because the ground floor at the rear of the property has been built in an L-shape. Extending out into the side return can often be a less expensive way to give your home more space than a rear extension. Three things to help keep costs down: 1) there are likely to be fewer planning permission issues, 2) at least two walls already exist and 3) your extravagant side is constrained because the space will often not allow for this.
4. Detailed planning
You’ll often need to put aside around 10% of the project costs for contingencies – issues unforeseeable at the outset, changes to the brief mid-way through, etc. But if you spend a little extra time at the outset making all the decisions that could be costly to change later, carefully considering all your needs, and doing all the assessments you can to make sure that you minimise the possibility of the unforeseen remaining unforeseen, then you can hopefully walk away with much of that 10% intact for you to spend on other things. Having the right builder and architect to help you appreciate where issues could arise, what needs to be considered, and to what depth, is an important factor in helping you save money on your extension.
5. Don’t waste anything
If you can reuse materials, fixtures and fittings then you can spend less on your purchases when extending. A little extra care when removing walls can provide you with the bricks or blocks for another. Shop smart, look for bargains or ways to achieve the look you want for less. And if you end up with anything of value that you no longer need, sell it and put the money towards things you do.
6. Extension vs refurbishment
I know this article’s about extending for less, but we have to consider the possibility that to achieve the goal of more space to live in you may not actually need to extend at all. We’ve had times when we’ve walked into a client’s home and known straight away that it’s the arrangement of walls and rooms that are holding the family back. They have the space, but it’s just so badly organised that the house feels smaller than it should. If you remove a wall separating two rooms this can open up the space so much and flood the room with new light. Taking out a bulky or oddly positioned fireplace or built-in wardrobes can work wonders. Or, remodelling an entire floor to deal with strangely shaped rooms or sizes that are imbalanced for modern living. A refurbishment can give you a home with all the space you need without extending and this can cost far less.