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Builder working from building regulations drawings
Common Questions, Regulations and Laws

Do I Need Building Regulations?

Building regulations are a fundamental part of most building projects, and ultimately, yes you do need building regulations approval if you are constructing or extending anything, or even making many renovations like changing windows and boilers too (unless they are in the competent person scheme).

Building Regulations Approval is a legal requirement for the vast majority of building work and significant renovations that you could undertake. It is essentially the framework for ensuring a safe and quality build is carried out, avoiding dangerous building, poor workmanship, and health and safety risks across the board.

Types of Building Regulations Approval

To get Building Regulations Approval, there are actually two routes that you can go down. They have their own pros and cons, but either is an essential step in making sure your build is legal.

Building Regulations Drawings

Building regulations drawings and submission to building control is the most effective route. This is where an architect, designer or even a builder in some cases will create drawings from the project proposal, detailing all of the necessary elements included in the building regulations.

These drawings are then submitted to either the local authority or to a private building inspector. Both are able to grant the drawing approval and let the building work legally commence. That’s if there aren’t amendments to be made beforehand, which they will tell you about. They’re also a great resource for a builder to use, helping them get a better idea of what’s needed in the build, and makes much less guesswork or room for error.

Building Notice

A building notice is often the preferred choice of builders as this means that they are able to get work started immediately. The local authority or private inspector visits the site at regular intervals to check the safety and quality of the work at stages across the build and flags up issues as and when they arise.

This is often the more time consuming and expensive route if anything does go wrong, as rather than having the foresight and spotting or amending issues before they are built, instead you’re taking a retroactive approach. Any issues reported then halt the work, need reparations, and can cost a pretty penny in both time and resources too.

Which Projects Need Building Regulations Approval?

Some of the most common projects that need building regulations approval to be carried out are constructions or renovations. Things like new build houses for example, as well as even smaller works like loft conversions or house extensions. If the room is intended to be habitable, then regulations approval will be needed.

In addition to these major works, other less obvious projects also need building regulations approval. Things like altering door frame widths, roofing in some cases, the window placement and sizes, replacing heating systems or boilers, and just about any other reasonably large change to a property too.

You can see a quick list of projects from the LABC here.

Can I get Building Regulations Approval for Previous Work?

If work has been carried out without building regulations approval, there are a range of problems that could crop up throughout the life of the project, or more likely, in the insuring or resale of the property. For example, the local authority could file for an injunction for the repatriation or removal of the work, home insurers may invalidate any insurance due to unsafe or illegitimate works, or buyers may be deterred because of both of these.

It is possible to get building regulations approval for previous works, but it’s very risky. It does cost more than it could cost getting it done as a new application. This is done to discourage people from taking this route. On top of that, there may be changes that need to be made to gain approval too. Someone has to pay for these changes, leaving you out of pocket.

Roof light type loft conversion
Common Questions

4 Loft Conversion Types and What They Have to Offer

Loft conversions are one of the easiest and most budget-friendly ways to grow your home. There are 4 main types of loft conversion, which are roof light (or Velux) loft conversions, dormer loft conversions, hip to gable loft conversions, and mansard loft conversions. Each is more than viable in providing a great home improvement, but they do have their own unique advantages and disadvantages too.

Roof Light/Velux Loft Conversions

Rooflight loft conversions, or Velux loft conversions as they are also commonly known, is the simplest and easiest type of loft conversion. That is because the shape of the roof is practically unchanged when this takes place, as a window is simply added instead. That means it is typically the quickest, easiest, and cheapest type of conversion available.

Dormer Loft Conversions

Dormer loft conversions are the second most popular type of loft conversion. They have everything that roof light conversions do, with the added benefit of increased height wherever needed. The dormer can be a small, boxed section where headroom would be the most needed or even almost the full width of the house if needed.

This does add slightly more complexity to the situation since the roof does need to be altered in places and planning may be more restrictive. The price will also be higher reflecting this in most cases, too.

Hip to Gable Loft Conversions

Hip to gable loft conversions is the next most commonly seen type of loft conversion. They effectively change the roof so that where it sloped down to its lowest point (the hip), it is lifted in line with the highest to create a large volume of space inside. It’s a highly effective way to get more space from a hipped roof which is typically the smallest type.

The downside of course is that this is a relatively large change in the roof structure, and it will cost more money and be a longer build time than other types of conversion. For hipped roofs that may not have any other option, however, it still makes loft conversions a possibility, and that’s difficult to fault.

Mansard Loft Conversions

The final commonly seen type of loft conversion is a mansard loft conversion. A mansard roof is essentially where one or both sides of the roof are raised entirely, sloping inwards at around a 70-degree angle until the tip, where it flattens off to a much lower angle. These of course give you the maximum possible place for a loft conversion since they have the potential to make a roof the size o a whole floor of your property.

The bad news with a mansard loft conversion however is that the roof will of course be the most complex and the most difficult type of loft conversion. It will require the most comprehensive planning of all types of loft conversion, and it will also take the longest time to build and be the most expensive in most cases too.

Summary

All in all, any loft conversion is a great way to expand your living space. They open a number of doors to improving your home life and really can give you a new lease of life, no matter what you need them for.

Ultimately, the best loft conversion is always going to be one that is purpose-built for what you need from it. Speaking to a designer or architectural professional is always the best way to get the perfect renovation, and there’s always a number of people on hand who can help you achieve it.

Single or double storey house extension graphic
Common Questions, Ideas and Creativity

Single Or Double Storey Extension: Which is the Better Choice?

Deciding between a single and a double storey extension isn’t easy, but each one does have its benefits that can really make a big impact on your project as a whole. Although both are a great investment, a little bit of extra research really can go a long way in helping you make the right decision. It is a big change, after all.

To make the decision more straightforward, we’re breaking it down into four separate areas that have their own pros and cons.

The Money Perspective

The first place to look is at the money behind the two projects. This is one of the biggest motivators for the decision either way, in most cases. The simple fact of the matter is that a single storey house extension is almost always going to be cheaper than a double at the same property. It stands to reason; they use fewer materials and less labour.

What is something that needs to be noted however though is that a double storey extension doesn’t actually mean double the price. Because much of the structural work is in place and there’s still only one project being carried out that only needs one foundation and one roof, the price difference isn’t actually as significant. A double storey can be much better value for money when looking at the value added to a property. This shouldn’t be a winning factor, but it is a viewpoint worth thinking about.

The Space Discussion

The space differences between single or double storey house extensions is something that goes without saying. A double story house extension of course has more available space than a single storey house extension does. Usually double, in fact, since it’s the same size and just on another floor of the property. It is this extra space that you’re paying for.

The Build Process

The build process is the next area to look at before you make up your mind about what’s the best option is the build process. The build itself is a big thing to undertake. It has a big impact on home life and can last a long time depending on the finer details of the project.

Typically, single storey extensions can be built in 3 to 4 months, which is relatively quickly for the size of the project. A double storey extension on the other hand typically takes around 6 months, since it’s a bigger project. That’s a long time to be without certain areas, but with the right project management or build schedule, you’ll be able to minimise any inconveniences.

The Planning Process

Even before the building work begins, there’s the aspect of planning that’s well worth thinking about. Planning permission is important for most projects to come to life, and without it, nothing can really take place without it, but for smaller projects, this isn’t actually needed.

Single storey house extensions are typically eligible to meet Permitted Development requirements. That means there’s no need for planning. If the extension is larger, then even then prior approval applications might be able to prevent the need for full planning. Double extensions are completely the opposite. You’ll more often than not need to use full planning, and that can be more time consuming and more costly, but in the grand scheme of things, it does give you much more room to breathe and create the project you truly want.

The Conclusion

All in all, whether you want a single or double storey house extension, you’re making a transformational change to your home and giving yourself a new lease of life. They are an amazing asset to your property that will give you more space and your property more value, and the benefits to your home life can be truly astronomical.

UK Builders using materials
Finance, Regulations and Laws

How the 2021 Building Material Shortage (UK) Effects Home Renovations

2021 is showing a dramatic building material shortage in the UK. In fact, more so than seen in decades before, and it’s having a huge impact on everyone in the construction industry, from designers and builders even down to clients and homeowners trying to have their project completed. It’s a genuine crisis, and it’s affecting the country as well as the rest of the globe.

Supply & Demand

The biggest cause of the building material shortage in the UK is simply supply and demand. Materials are in short supply straight from the manufacturers, with exports at an all-time low. This is leading to backlogs of demand from parties all over the world, and this is combining to cause a spiralling issue.

The direct result of that is a huge rise in costs for the materials in questions. Everything from wood and steel, which are some of the most dramatically affected, right through to plasterboard and roof tiles is seeing a big impact. Many reports are even showing that despite the price increase for basic materials of around 10% over the last year, the same could well happen again in the next 12 months. That leads to a huge number of projects running over budget.

Implicants for Clients

While looking into the impacts of the shortage, looking to how it will affect those having work done is one of the best places to start. Clients, in particular, will be facing the brunt of all of this after all, since they are spending the most money on these materials being at the bottom of the transition of property and paying everyone else in the chain. That’s even more of an impact when thinking about self builders following the help to build movement.

The demand for the building material causing a shortage in the UK, and the price hike isn’t the only problem for clients, either. There are also other issues to consider in every project. Things like how long projects could last, for example, can result in a huge amount of work more for builders, and therefore more paid for work. Builders are also having to charge more as it is in many cases simply to accommodate the shortage and reduction in work they can do. That also means clients could be waiting longer to find a builder, as well as just have their work done.

Implications for Building Companies

Builders and building companies are the next in line to be most dramatically affected since they are essentially fighting all of the points above as well as trying to run profitable services to keep them in employment, or profit at larger scales. Builders and project managers alike will be experiencing huge pressure to make projects go as planned without extra problems, and having building materials is essential to making this happen at every stage of the projects they’re working on. The overall result of that is less work being manageable, and fewer people looking to start new jobs because of the situation too.

Many larger building companies in the UK are not quite feeling the same pressure from the building material shortage as smaller businesses due to the additional buying power. Small businesses tend to buy building materials as and when needed, and in smaller amounts not having the preferential treatment of these large firms able to buy in bulk or from exclusive suppliers.

Implications for Architects

Architects and designers are directly between builders and clients in this situation. As a result, many are also feeling the effects of both areas of problems in the situation. The lack of people wanting to take on building work means that as a by-product, there’s less demand for architectural work at the same time. In much the same way, the lack of builders having work to take on is reducing project from both sides.

Smaller architectural firms, in particular, have the same issue as smaller building firms, not having the ability to market themselves effectively due to reduced workloads. Larger firms however just like builders again are able to take advantage of a struggling market, working with larger firms for more lucrative opportunities without the worry of not being able to meet overheads.

The Causing Factors of the Shortage

With off of these affected parties throughout the shortage, it doesn’t take long to understand what is the true cause behind all of the problem areas. Brexit was already proving to be a trying time for importing and exporting as things were still being finalised between nations. Added to restriction in being able to import and export around the rest of the world simply amplified that, with huge backlogs in demand being created, and larger nations being able to take up much more than other nations like the UK. All in all, the shortage of building material in the UK doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. Restrictions are in place even now around the globe because of COVID. These backlogs will take months if not years to be able to meet, and as a result, this could well be a long term issue with rising costs throughout

Single storey house extension designed online
Common Questions, Regulations and Laws

Do I Need Planning Permission for an Extension?

House extensions are a hugely popular home renovation because of how they impact your house and your life while you’re inside it. They open all kinds of doors and have a massive uplift to quality of life, but a common question that is asked about it is how planning works when it comes to getting one, and more specifically, if you need planning permission for an extension, or if there are other routes available.

The short answer is that in all honesty, it depends on the size and the complexity of your house extension. House extensions do need planning permission if they will have a large impact on your neighbours or the local street scene, or if they are large in size. Smaller extensions however don’t need planning permission in many cases thanks to permitted development rights and prior notice. The answer depends entirely on what you’d like done.

Using Permitted Development Rights

In order to be able to build an extension without planning permission, and therefore using your Permitted Development rights, there are a few important criteria that you need to meet. The main characteristics to consider are based on the size of the proposed work, but there are a few specifics:

Less than 50% of land taken up

The proposed extension should not use more than 50% of the space available on the property. If that’s a rear extension, for example, it can’t use more than 50% of the garden. This is of course vastly different depending on the property, but it’s one of several limitations to consider.

Less than 3 metres extended from the original house (or less than 4m for detached houses)

From the rear wall of the property, the extension must not exceed 3 metres. That becomes four metres for detached houses. This may well cause a conflict between the point above, but it is whichever is the smaller size that is the limit when using permitted development.

Less than 4 metres high

The height of the extension is also important. For rear and side extensions (which are the typical permitted development candidates since the front is more difficult), the height cannot exceed the height of the original property. It also generally needs to be less than 4 metres, especially for side extensions.

Materials in Keeping

The materials used to build the extension need to be in keeping with the rest of the property. Anything vastly different would require planning permission, as it would have a negative impact on the property and the community as a whole.

Using Prior Approval

Another route to go down that is more of a middle ground between Permitted Development and Planning Permission that still prevents needing planning permission for an extension is the use of prior notice. This is where you submit a brief application to the council and pay a small fee, and they contact your neighbours and see if they have any objections. If not, you have up to 6 metres extended away from the property (or 8m for detached houses) to work with. The rest of the criteria for permitted development like material choices and height still apply.

Using Planning Permission

For an extension that doesn’t meet these requirements, or for anything else that you’d like, it’s usually going to be a job for a homeowner planning application instead. This means you’ll need planning drawings and to submit the application (or have an architect or designer do it for you) and receive approval before you can move forward with the build (as well as getting building regulations drawings in place).

The planning process generally takes around 16 weeks including drawing time. That includes every stage up until approval at which point, you’ll be able to move forward as planned with your extension. It is also worth noting that there are different types of planning application out there too. Special circumstances like living in a listing building or conservation area make things more intricate and have their own, for example. From a general level, however, it mostly comes down to the points above.

House extension being built from conservatory
Common Questions, Regulations and Laws

A Guide on Replacing a Conservatory with an Extension

Conservatories have been one of the most popular types of home renovation for years now, and they’re a feature of thousands of homes across the UK. The issue that comes along with them, however, is that as time goes on, people’s opinions on them tend to change. Structures with that little insulation and that much glass are extremely susceptible to temperature fluctuations, and as a result, a lot of people out there want to know about replacing a conservatory with an extension, instead. The problem there though is that it is not quite as easy as it sounds.

The main reason that replacing a conservatory with an extension causes issues is that technically, they’re very different things, and as a result, they tend to need an awful lot doing to them in order to be converted. They also need to meet specific criteria, or they may need removing altogether and have an extension built in their place. The good news though is that although it may not be straightforward to get a house extension specifically, there are a number of changes that can be made to make the conservatory much better suited for your needs.

So, Can I Replace my Conservatory with an Extension?

There’s a lot to consider when you’re working out what is and isn’t going to be possible for what you want to achieve with replacing a conservatory for an extension. Sometimes, it is possible, other times, it’s just not achievable. In either case, you’ll have a range of upgrades available to you, but the best thing to do first is to make a list of requirements and see if you meet them:

Footings & Foundations

Footing needs to be over 1m+ deep for the base of your conservatory to be eligible to be used as the base for an extension. To test this, you’ll likely need to dig in front of the conservatory, or dig a few holes around it and take measurements. If they’re not, then you’ll likely be better off starting from scratch anyway, since this is a little bit messy. Alternatively, you can utilise underpinning to make them more viable.

If they are deep enough, or if you aren’t sure the next step that is probably a good idea is to get a structural engineer to inspect it for you and confirm that this is the case and you’re in a position to carry out the replacement.

Permissions & Authorities

The next hurdle to face to convert or replace your conservatory with a house extension is the permissions and restrictions that are subject to as a homeowner. Planning permission for example is a good place to start. If the conservatory is the same size/footprint as the proposed house extension, then you may need to gain any further permissions. It is however still a good idea to get a certificate of lawfulness, as this proves that that is the case. That’s great when you’re trying to sell or insure should you need to.

The other side of the coin is building regulations. Building regulations are essential for any build, and they will be a problem with replacing a conservatory with an extension. That’s because they are classed as totally different things. Conservatories are classed as a temporary structure and are closed off from the main property. An extension would be opened up, like another room, and as a result, you’ll need to meet very different criteria (unless of course you remain technically a conservatory and don’t need to open it up to the house. We’ll talk more about this soon).

Option 1: Converting to an extension

Sticking with the notion that you’re looking for an extension above all else and a full conversion is the goal, there are a number of areas to keep in mind. That’s even after you have checked the foundations had building regulations drawings created, since specifically parts a and l of the building regulations will need to be adhered to in order to become an extension.

Assuming that the footings are adequate, the initial steps would be to insulate the floor, walls and roof. The use of glass generally needs to be reduced to 25% of the floor space as a rough guideline for it to be able to meet building regulations requirements. Swapping out window frames/glass walls with brick and blockwork or timber frames is the best way to go about this and will be unavoidable.

This does bring the attention back to the footings, however, as changing this much glass for masonry means there’s a lot more weight in the structure., The footings need to be able to handle this safely. This wouldn’t have been a requirement when they were first done, so it’s unlikely. Again, a structural engineer will be able to advise here.

The roof can be introduced after the walls and openings are altered/constructed. There is a range of options available to you, like pitched tiled or flat GRB roofing, and you can choose which is the best fit. Bare in mind planning constraints, however, as this could need to be pre-determined. Roofing in this case typically costs around £120 per square metre.

Once all this is done, you’re essentially finished. All that is left is carrying out any required checks. That’s before of course decorating as you see fit.

Option 2: Keeping Conservatory Status, but Improving

Although replacing your conservatory with an extension isn’t an easy thing to do, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck. The second option that you have available for you and your property is to simply improve your existing conservatory. You can convert and improve a conservatory to variable different levels to suit your budget and requirements providing you don’t need the conservatory opened up to the house and signed off as a proper room.

The first place many look to here is converting a polycarbonate roof to a glass or warm roof, usually referred to as an insulated roof with tile effect. Converting the roof like this typically costs around £100 per square metre, so would likely only cost around 3-4 thousand for the whole build.

Adding insulation to the walls may be difficult depending on your conservatory layout. Brickwork changes are usually limited for building regulation and foundation reasons but are still possible in most cases. Insulating walls can cut space internally, however, and it costs around £40 per square metre for 65 mils of insulation as is standard. A great alternative is replacing the level of glazing, like standard double glazing for triple glazing instead. A new glazing unit is typically around £150 each.

Risks of Replacing a Conservatory with an Extension

With a renovation that is trying to combine two separate types of structure like this, there are always going to be risks involved. In many cases, they can actually make the whole thing a waste of time and resources too, so plan your moves carefully.

Expenses

The biggest risk from a project like this is that you’ll end up spending more than you would have done from simply starting fresh. Conservatories can be taken down and sold as second-hand. This can actually be a wise decision for some situations. You can then use that money to put towards a house extension that’s perfectly suited to what you want.

Poor aesthetic from the finish in many cases

If the transition does prove successful, there’s also the risk of having a very poor aesthetic as a result of your hard work. Conservatories don’t look incredible at the best of times, but if you’re incorporating an extension, you could end up with some kind of hybrid, bringing out the worst of both in terms of appearance.

We wouldn’t recommend spending more than 10-15k on doing this, as still will inherit awkward junctions, making the overall quality, tightness, ventilation etc questionable. It can lead to issues with the contract and warranty with the builder, and that can be a real minefield down the line should there be anything wrong with the build. If you can meet the targets of your project at that price, it’s worth doing for the practicality, but always do investigations first. It could be of poor quality and quickly become a money pit and a huge source of stress. Check foundations first for materials and quality, amount of glazing,

Builders working on a house extension project
Common Questions

The Best Time of Year to Build an Extension

Building a house extension in general can be a complex process, but finding the best time of year to build an extension can be even harder. It’s a very split topic, with a huge number of people suggesting it’s summer or nothing, and others saying that winter is easier, cheaper and more accessible. The hard truth is, in reality, they’re both right.

We’re here to break it down into the advantages and disadvantages of both, and ultimately, give our own opinion, which is that all in all, the best time to build a house extension probably is spring/summer/autumn for ease and comfort, but it’s never too difficult to do.

Building an Extension in Spring

Building an extension in Spring is often the best time to go ahead for many people. It has the best of both worlds in terms of the two arguments you’ll usually hear when it comes to building an extension in general.

The weather should be friendly, the builder should be slightly more available, especially if you’re booking well in advance, and you’re not missing out on accessing your garden etc when you want it. All in all, this is likely the best. Even if the extension has issues and lasts longer than expected, you shouldn’t run into any issues.

Building an Extension in Summer

Summer is the most popular tie of year to build an extension just because of how practical it is when it comes to having work done. There will be no cold spells in the house from walls or roofing being altered, and that’s the most important thing for most people who are on the fence about the build. The weather should also be ample to let building go full steam ahead without any delays. The issue is, the builder you want will likely be very fully booked if you’re hoping to get one within a few weeks or even months’ time.

Building an Extension in Autumn

Building an extension around the autumnal time of year is still common, but it does begin to pose just a couple of problems that might cause you issues with your extension build. Although the temperature might not be an issue when it comes to moving walls, the weather may begin to turn and cause problems in that sense. As long as you get started early, building an extension in autumn shouldn’t be a particularly bad time of the year, but if delays have to take place for whatever reason, it might lead into winter.

Building an extension in Winter

Winter is likely the hardest time of the year to build an extension, although that doesn’t have to be a bad thing all of the time. Winter of course brings with it shorter days, wet and cold weather, and some builders that are seasonal. All in all, that can result in you not being able to proceed with your extension exactly as you’d like, which is not great. On the other side of the coin, however, most competent builders will be happy to get it done non the less. It may occasionally be too cold to work with cement, but aside from that, the inconveniences from the cold can be handled, the builder will likely be very quickly available, and you’ll be finished in time for the better months coming. That’s a win-win.

Conclusion

All in all, the best time of the year to build an extension is generally whenever works best for you and your living situation. Providing your builder can make the booking work with you, the best time of the year to build is whenever you can justify losing access to that area of your property for a while. If it’s a double-storey extension, of course, that may be slightly more difficult, but it’s all a part of the process. When you want to be able to use it and the areas affected, and when you are comfortable with the work taking place. That’s really all there is to it!

Loft conversion vs house extension
Common Questions, Finance

Loft Conversion Vs House Extension: Which is the Better Fit

You’re not short on options when it comes to renovating your home, and one of the biggest decisions often comes down to whether a loft conversion vs house extension is going to be the better fit. They both have a whole world of potential to offer your home, and that’s putting it bluntly. They can both give your property an entirely new lease of life, but with both of them being so great, deciding which one’s right for you might be easier said than done.

We’ve broken it down into the six most influential factors on your decision to give you a better idea of what’s the best option. Of course, different things are important to different people, but these all have a big impact on your home.

Prices & Costing

The first place most homeowners look when debating if a house extension or loft conversion is going to be the best option is with the prices. They are often very different after all since they’re totally different structures. Typically, loft conversions are the cheaper of the two.

Loft conversion use space that you already have in your home since you are building upwards, not outwards, and that alone is a big money saver to start. You already have a roof and a foundation, and that brings conversion costs much lower than building from a new. They typically range from 10,000 to 30,000 depending on your property, location and the type and size of the conversion you want, but they can go all the way up to 70,000+ for very large conversions with dormers, or even a mansard.

Extensions on the other hand tend to be more expensive even with less area being built. Typically, extensions tend to cost around 2,000-3,000 per meter squared. That would make a mid-sized extension, say 4×5 metres 40,000-60,000 to be built to a high quality. It can of course be done cheaper if the extension is smaller or uses cheaper building materials/facilities, but these are rough representative figures.

Ease of Build

As well as what they will cost to have done, another big decision influencer when deciding on a house extension or loft conversion is the ease of implementation too. How easy they are to have designed and built can be a big player in the final choice and deciding what is the best choice.

Loft conversions, since you are usually converting space that you already have, typically can fall under your Permitted Development rights. That means there is no planning permission required. With house extensions, that only tends to be the case if you are taking up less than 50% of your garden and the extension is smaller than 3×3 metres, which might not always be the case and will more often require planning permission to be built. That makes things very slightly more expensive and time consuming. Lofts are not guaranteed Permitted Development either and still may need planning, but it’s uncommon.

The build of the renovations themselves is also very different. Loft conversions typically take 6 weeks to be designed and have all necessary approvals in place and then another 6-10 weeks to build. On top of that, most of this building takes place upstairs and in the roof, meaning there are not builders taking over your home. Extensions are of course much more complex, needing to move and add walls, changing facilities, and all in all, the process is slightly messier and takes a few weeks longer to complete, but they do provide much more accessible space, which we will come to shortly.

Variety & Options

Another key consideration for choosing a loft conversion or house extension is that there is a different level of variety on offer for your project. Lofts tend to be thought of as much more limited in what you’re able to build, but there is actually a range of different options, just like there are with extensions.

Loft conversions are typically either dormer loft conversions, or Velux or roof-light conversions, and they’re the most popular types in the UK. Even on top of these, however, there are also variations like mansard loft conversions, which solve the height restrictions many people face, as well as hip to gable loft conversions, which are ideal for end-terrace houses in particular.

Extensions however still do have a whole world of variety because of their very nature. Even on top of the placement, like with front, side or rear extensions, there is still the possibility to have them extremely uniquely built. There are options for open plan living situations, glass rooms, garden rooms, and everything in between, all working with the location they are built.

Space & Potetial

Looking to the point of space available in a loft conversion vs a house extension, it is a tricky one to debate. In most cases, it comes down entirely to budget and the space that you available to use, but there are still some important points to consider.

Generally speaking, loft conversions have the potential to have more floor space, since the loft likely spans the entirety of your home. That means there is a lot of space to be converted easily. The only real issue that comes from this is the space that would be available when it is converted once the insulation is added and any slants and staircases are factored in. you also then have to think about the type of loft you’d want to have, as dormers, hip to gable conversions and mansards will all provide even more room.

On the other hand, extensions are not one to forget about either. House extensions are of course a whole new room added to your property, or even multiple rooms with a larger extension or even a double storey. They don’t have the limitations that lofts do, but they do have some of their own. Getting planning permission for larger extensions for example may be more difficult. All in all, though, extensions do technically have more potential for more space. It is one to think about.

Property & Resale Value

Any type of renovation will likely have a very big impact on the value of your property. That much is a given. If it is going to benefit your living situation even just aesthetically, then it is going to help the value of your property. Because of how different a loft conversion is vs a house extension though, there is still a difference in what they have to offer. If you are looking to the long term, this may sway your decision.

Loft conversions can actually add up to 20% to your property’s value providing that it meets typical requirements of a bedroom and bathroom included, which is a huge chunk of equity likely worth more than you pay for the process. If it is not a bedroom, however, then this may be more like 5-10% simply for the added space. Either way, it is sizable.

Extensions, however, tend to be more consistent. That is providing that you’re not ruining a room to get one by blocking its light or making it unrealistically small. They usually result in forced modernisation of your home which goes in their favour, and all in all, they tend to add £1000-£2000 to your property value per square metre of usable space, and that is even more in more expensive to live areas.

Uses

Another useful area to consider when making the choice between the two is the uses that they can practically provide you, your home and your family. Of course, any extra space is diverse, and you have a wide range of options of what to do with it. Being more realistic, however, there are some better fitting purposes than others that can help you to mould your home into a space that really works.

Loft conversions because of their location are generally well suited to be bedrooms, potentially with ensuite, and that is one of the main reasons for their massive popularity alongside their lower building costs. On top of that, having a room that is on its own floor and out of the way of other rooms, it also opens a lot of doors for them to become recreational spaces, providing you can move past potential banging on the ceilings in rooms below depending on the quality of the conversion.

Extensions, however, have a lot more room in the practical sense. The day to day space that they can offer you is huge. They give you the option for living space, kitchens, downstairs bathrooms, downstairs bedrooms for those in need, sunrooms, playrooms, open plan kitchen diners, utility rooms… the list is endless. There is also the option to add a second storey to the extension to get both upstairs and downstairs benefits of an extension, but that is all down to budget and preference. There is more variety, but at a greater cost for that prime location in the property and not something tucked away.

Implications

Finally, the last point to look at before you are able to crown a winner from your decision is the implications that both renovations can have on your property. They are not small changes after all. Having any work done can be stressful, and that needs to be remembered.

The build for example is much easier for a loft conversion than it likely is for an extension. All of the work being done in the roof makes things much more out of the way than an extension might be. It is also likely much quicker, too. They also tend to be more applicable to use permitted development rights in their creation, where larger house extensions do not have that option.

All in all, it all comes down to the budget you have to work with, and more importantly, what you need to gain from the finished project. Renovations like a house extension or a loft conversion can change your life in a range of different ways. They really can be transformational to your home life and add a huge chunk of value to your property at the same time.

If you’re on the fence even after reading all of this information, the best people to speak to are always going to be architectural professionals like ourselves. Whether you are in the UK, we have teams on hand to help. Contact us today and we will do everything we can to point you in the right direction.

Self builder working on site
Finance, Regulations and Laws

Help to Build Scheme Makes Self Builds Easier Than Ever

The UK government has recently announced a new scheme beginning in the summer of 2021 that grants £150 million in funding to self-builders across the UK, called the help to build scheme. This comes in the form of an equity loan from the government. It’s designed to help lower the required amount for a mortgage deposit and opens the door to bespoke self-build properties across the UK.

How Self Builds Work

Self builds are a great way to create a perfect home for a range of different potential homeowners. They give you the opportunity to create a home designed completely around the owner, meeting every need and preference without compromise, budget aside.

Contrary to their title, however, self builds don’t actually have to be built by you. It is simply a term used for a home that is built holistically rather than buying a prebuilt home. You can undertake work yourself, or work with any number of professionals like architects, builders and developers to bring it to life.

The self-build process generally comes down to a few different, costly areas, which are the land, the build materials, and the labour or specialists used to build it. Planning is also a big consideration alongside the land, however, the whole process can be run through with an architectural provider or developer.

How a Self Build Mortgage Works

Because of the nature of self builds and the process that is carried out in order to complete one, the mortgage to have one is quite drastically different from a standard mortgage seen on the property ladder. Self build mortgages have their own specific category and must be applied for uniquely to have one in place.

To get a self build mortgage, chances are, you’ll need a solid plan that can be provided to the provider, showing them the process that you plan to carry out. They will then be able to get an understanding of what you are trying to do and see that it is viable, and then, lend you the money.

Unlike typical mortgages again, the lending is much different for a self build, although the required deposit still ranges anywhere from 5-20+%. The money for a self build, because of how the process works, is usually released in increments or in arrears, rather than an upfront payment. This means that you get regular bouts of money to take you through each individual stage of the process, helping you stay on budget and moving forward safely.

How the Help to Build Scheme Works

Getting down to the help to build scheme itself, it works in a very similar way to the help to buy scheme loan. That means that the government are on hand to provide up to an estimated 30,000-40,000 homeowners with an equity loan to secure their help to build mortgage.

The government provide equity based loans adding to your deposit in the idea of reducing your mortgage, lowering your interest rates, and allowing you to access the self build process quicker than saving for a mortgage.

The loan is of course repayable to the government, but for a likely much lower rate than a mortgage lender would provide, and IF it is anything like the help to buy loan, then this will have a delay in interest similar to the Help to buy’s 5-year wait. Moving on from that, it will have an interest rate of 1-2% which increases annually in line with the value of the property.

More information is needed on the scheme when it launches to confirm this, but it’; s highly likely based on the help to buy.

What Help to Build Means for Homeowners in the UK

So with all of this in mind, what does this mean for UK homeowners? Well, generally, it means that self builds are more accessible than ever, just like typical house buying is through the governments help to buy schemes.

This scheme makes it easier than ever for people to get mortgages with a lower deposit, allowing them to create their own perfect home without having to go through mass provided large scale developers or older, existing properties.

Another beauty of self builds is the fact that the buy and build costs for a self build will likely result in a property that is worth a sizable amount more than the cost to build it, even with everything include it. That sets you off to a great start in terms of equity and a huge boost to the property ladder.

A downside could be argued to be the stress and difficulty of a self build, since it’s such a complex project without an architect or specialist project managing your build for you. There’s also the possibility of issues arising or going over budget. All of this can throw a few spanners in the work.

Whatever your viewpoint, the Help to Build scheme will provide an interesting new route to the property ladder and could well result in more individual and high-quality housing being created across the UK. That’s hard to argue with.

Loft Conversion in the process of being built
Common Questions

How Long Does A Loft Conversion Take & What is The Process?

Loft conversions are one of the most common home improvements that take place in the UK, and to get one, it’ll take around 3-4 months in total for the average homeowner. Thousands of people choose to have them done every single year, and it makes sense They add value to your property, increase living space, and have the potential to improve your quality of life tremendously. Before getting one though, it is only natural to wonder how it all works. That’s where understanding the stages of a loft conversion, the process behind it and the time it all takes is so great to know.

The Loft Conversion Stages of Progression:

The loft conversion process generally falls into 5 stages, each of which can only happen once the last is completed. They’re all relatively basic and can be carried out by one firm or company if required, or, split up by each stage. It completely depends on what’s easiest for you.

1. Designing The Loft Conversion (2-3 weeks)

The first step is to get your initial design carried out. This can be done any an architect or architectural designer and is where the initial concepts come into place. It will account for the size and layout of your new loft conversion, as well as the facilities inside it. You can then decide if it’s going to work for you or make some amendments, depending on the things that matter the most to you. That may well be things like materials, layout options or even price.

2. Planning (Where Necessary) (6-12 Weeks Dependent on Level Required)

Once you’ve reached a point with your design that you’re happy with, the next step in your loft conversion progression is with planning. Full planning is usually not required for a loft conversion, so bear that in mind, but if it is, it takes around 8-12 weeks to be achieved. Even if full planning isn’t mandatory, however, it does mean that you’re still able to affirm permitted development rights or receive a certificate of lawful development (with takes 3-6 weeks). While that isn’t necessary for the work to be carried out, it will save you a huge amount of hassle when it comes to insuring your home or selling the property and being able to prove that everything is above board. It’s something we would always recommend.

3. Building Regulations & Structural Calculations (3-4 weeks)

After you have planning permission or certificate of lawful development in hand, the next stage of the process is to get your building regulations in check. Your regs and structural calculations will be carried out to ensure the safety of your build, which will then make sure that you have approval from Building Control. That can be done using a private body, or through your local authority, but is essential for a legal build to take place.

4. Getting a Builder (1-4 Weeks)

Once you have your building regulations, the only thing left to do is find the person or company that you want to undertake your project. You need to find a builder that you trust and feel comfortable with for your project, and that matches your standards too. It’s always wise to find the best quote that fits your requirements and making sure that they aren’t going to do a bad job. Builder’s may well have a busy calendar aside from your build, however, so it isn’t uncommon to have to wait a few months for the work to begin. This all depends on which builder you hire and where you’re located, too.

5. The Build (8-12 weeks)

Finally, all that’s left is the build itself. The build is relatively easy to live with since the work is occurring in your roof but do remember that people will still be in and out of your home and that there may well be a lot of noise in the home too. It’s hard work after all, but it’s very short-lived and only takes around 8-12 weeks from start to finish in most cases. You can also hire a project management service to help in the build and sure the highest quality of work and most efficient build without any issues or money pits, but that’s all down to personal preference, especially with smaller projects.

How Long Does a Loft Conversion Take?

The loft conversion process from start to finish typically takes around 20 weeks. That’s including every single stage, and assuming that there aren’t any huge delays or that you don’t have to wait more than a couple of weeks for your chosen builder to start the project.

Loft Conversion timeline

The Design – 2-3 weeks

Planning / Permitted Development / Lawful Development – 10 Weeks

(Full Planning, up to 12 weeks | Permitted Development or Certificate, 6-8 Weeks)

Building Regulations + Structural Calculations – 3-4 weeks

Builder Selection – 2 Weeks (Depending on time of year and location and availability)

The Build – 8-10 Weeks