Improve, Don’t Move: Certass’ Guide to Planning Your Extension

Worker Shows House Design

More and more people are looking at ways to create extra space in their current home rather than move to a new house. Home extensions are great for all kinds of properties and create vital space to make room for extra relatives or accommodate your growing family.

Whether you’re looking to create a large, open-plan kitchen, build a new conservatory, or extend the whole back of your home to create more living space, our guide to planning your extension will give you a good starting point.

We’ve come up with five pointers to help you ask the right questions as you start to think about how your extension will look and where to find expert advice and installers you can trust.

1. Planning and research

If you’re already at the stage where you are planning your home extension, chances are that you’ve already done lots of research – but you can never do too much. Make sure you have a very clear idea of what you want from your extension before you start talking about designs. Build a wish list so that all of the features you want from your extension are included.

A useful piece of research is a book called ‘Extending and Improving Your Home: An Introduction’ (M. J. Billington, C. Gibbs). It was co-written by the previous Chairman of Certass and the current Quality and Technical Manager. This will outline processes, procedures and many of the pitfalls to help you through the whole process.

2. Designing your extension

There are several ways you can design your extension and there are numerous professionals who can be involved.  You can be involved as much or as little as you want, but every project is different and so the number and type of professionals involved can vary. These include, but are not limited to: Architects, Building Surveyors, Quantity Surveyors and Structural Engineers. Each of them would be members of professional institutes and you can search for members on the institutes websites. In addition, the amount of legislation involved can be a minefield, so choosing Building Professionals that are members of professional institutions is vital to guide you.

3. Planning Permission

Depending on the size and location of your extension, you may not need Planning Permission as it could be covered by Permitted Development Rights. There are limitations for permitted developments, so check out the Planning Portal to see if your extension is covered.

If your plans are not covered by the Permitted Development Rights, it’s easy to start a planning application online or your designer can do this for you.

4. Choosing traders you can trust

Whether you are planning on managing your extension project yourself or using a professional project manager, make sure that the builders or installers are certified by a third-party certification scheme. These schemes operate under Government license or Government sub-license, to give you peace of mind that your installation company has great standards of workmanship.

At Certass, we offer a number of schemes that cover the building fabric industry.

Our Competent Person Scheme (CPS) allows traders to register their own projects to get Building Regulations approval, as an alternative to using Building Control. Our CPS covers replacement glazing and insulation services.

For other trades, including builders, roofers, carpenters, joiners, plasterers and painter & decorators, our Government endorsed TrustMark scheme gives homeowners extra confidence when finding tradespeople.

5. Work closely with your chosen tradespeople

Before you make a final decision on your local builder or installation company, make sure you check out other work that they have done. Have a look at case studies on their website and social media pages and visit their showroom, if they have one, to get a real feel for the kind of work they do.

Your installer will be able to give you lots of expert advice on what products will work best for extension too. Ask for brochures and literature – they are usually packed full of information you need. Ask them about anything else you need to know.

For major building works, get a minimum of 5 quotes.  Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest quote; look for quotes that are close together, as this is likely to be a true picture of a realistic quote for a good job, then choose the final company based on service.

Extending your home is a fantastic way to create extra space for you and your family. By doing lots of research and choosing home improvement companies that have third party certification, like Certass members, you’ll be sitting enjoying your new extension before you know it!