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We often outgrow the home we purchased either due to children, work, or the need for additional storage/space for living. Whatever your reason for wanting to extend your current home, there are quite a few things you need to know before you start knocking down walls and adding additional rooms.

It’s also important to understand what impact the change you do will make to your home in terms of value, investment, living space, and structural integrity. Be sure if you’re thinking of a home extension to consult an expert in both construction and in real estate first.

Consulting The Experts

When you’re ready to start your project, unless you’re a professional construction worker then you should definitely call in the experts so you get professional work done. Building extensions whether big or small can really affect your overall home’s structure and worth so it’s important it’s done right.

First step is to contact an architect who can help you with the design and make sure it’s appropriately made so it will fit what you want. The other good part about an architect is they usually know the best builders in each area who can help plan and build the project within your budget and to your specifications while still complying with local building regulations/laws.

Prepare Your Wish List

Before you start working on the extension, you should determine what’s your goal. Sit down with the architect you’ve chosen and discuss what you want to get out of the extension, how you want the new area to compliment your current home.

It’s important to invest time in planning for your expansion as it will fundamentally determine what this new space will be. Are you planning to expand your current kitchen/dining/living room? Or maybe you want a bigger bedroom or an additional bathroom.

When you’re planning the expansion also think about the future use of the space. If you will have additional children, can the space be a dual use area like an office now but a bedroom in the future.

Also think about the location you live in and what is realistic for the expansion. A room with a lot of windows is wonderful, but if you live in a cold climate, is it the smartest option during the winter months to pay all that money heating that room?

Your architect will help you with many of these to determine the current trends and what is best for you.

Determine Your Budget

Depending on the job, the cost of your expansion can become quite high so before you start planning you need to determine how much money are you willing to spend on it. This will have to factor in the size of the space, the cost of the materials, and the payment of work for both the architect and the construction crew.

You’ll also need to pay the different fees including health and safety costs, certificates, and potentially site insurance for the workers.

Another cost that many people forget is the cost you’ll also need to spend on the existing space you have. While extending may just seem like an addition, often you will need to make many modifications to your existing space as well so that the extension both flows properly and has seamless lines.

Request Planning Permission

Generally small extensions around 40 sq meters to the back side of a property don’t need planning permission from the local development and zoning authorities. This always depends on the location, distance to the property boundaries, etc. The architect you select will be able to help advise which will need permissions and not and help to guide you along the way.

During this stage you will need to secure different documents and permits before you start so you won’t be shut down halfway through which can cause you fines and require additional money for delay in the project. It’s good to start early on requesting these as they can often take up to 1-2 months to get back.

Begin Building Stage

When it comes time to start with the construction, depending on the size and location of the project many families temporarily move out of their homes. If you do not want to move out during this phase, you may risk getting in the way and slowing down the project, and also you may have different health risks with the amount of dust and particles in the air that you may be breathing throughout the project.

During the construction phase, while it’s perfectly acceptable to be involved in the project the experts suggest that homeowners stay out of it as they typically cause delays which will cost you more money in the long run. You should allow the architect and builders to run the construction phase and just check in every few days or so for an update.

It is also advised to trust the experts to do the job right and trust them with your home/items in it as these are professional companies.

Safety Precautions

While in the building stage either pre, during or post, there are many safety issues that come up that you will need to be aware of. The two most important ones are dust and electricity.

  • Dust: The most health issue in construction sites is dust whether it’s a concrete or wooden structure, they both post similar threats. In concrete structures, often drilling is happening into concrete (or brick or mortar) and the dust from concrete will fly through the air. This should not be inhaled as it can cause major respiratory issues. When dealing with wood houses, the sawdust from wood can become very fine particles that if they get into your eye, it can cause irritation or damage.
  • Electricity: The most serious issue when building an extension is electricity. No matter what, never touch wiring in your home or outlets even if you think the power is off unless it’s been properly tested. You can get serious injury if you do not follow proper precautions. The use of a multimeter is the best safety tool for checking if wiring, outlets, or metal objects are charged with electricity. By using the continuity function on a multimeter, you can easily test any wire safely to ensure it has been charged down prior to handling it. Always use a multimeter to test for this and ensure you wear safety gloves appropriate for wire handling.

Protected Structures

While most of us don’t live in this type of a building, it’s important to add that some buildings are considered “protected” for reasons of historic or architectural reasons. Likely if you live in this type of structure you will know this already so if you do, you’ll need to ensure to consult the local government office that takes care of securing the permission to extend onto this building first to ensure it will comply with the regulations on protected structures.

Expanding In Existing Spaces

Another really important topic to explore when you’re looking to expand is looking at your existing spaces within your home. There are so many hidden places that you may be able to expand into that you don’t even realize.

  • Attics: The attic of a home is overlooked and it can often be one of the best areas to expand into. Not only do attics have some really interesting designs with the curved roofs, but they also have access to the roof which allows for easy implementation of skylights.
  • Garage: Sometimes expanding into a garage will allow you to avoid the need to get permits and authorization first, but best to check with your local authorities. Garages can also often require additional insulation and modifications, but the structure will already be built for you which saves time and money.
  • “Garden Rooms”: If you’re looking for an easy expansion to your home that’s full of sunlight and doesn’t cost very much, garden rooms are excellent choices. These can either be outdoor covered areas or glass/screened in areas that won’t require much planning and often don’t need permits either.

No matter what kind of expansion you’re planning, extra space to your home will always make you feel good afterwards. Consult the experts and start working on your expansion today!

About the Author:
This article was written by John from House Tech Lab.

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