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There's no need to move if you want to improve; Should you stay or should you go? Surveyor CHRIS SCOTT looks at the benefits of extending your home.

HANDS up, who loves the TV show Double Your House for Half the Money? Moving house can be a stressful and costly thing to do, so, if you need extra space, adding an extension to your home could be the answer. Whether it's to create an extra bedroom, living room, or somewhere for the kids to play, extending often works out cheaper than moving to a bigger property.

How long do you plan to stay? Before embarking on your 'project',' it's worth considering how long you plan on staying in the house. If it's only going to be there for the short term, it might not be worth it and you'd probably be better off spending your money elsewhere.

However, if you're staying put for the next five to 10 years, investing in the extra space would definitely be worth considering. My advice would be to chat to your local estate agents and see what they think, especially as they would be best placed to advise you on what return you're likely get for your money.

You might already know what type of extension you want and how you'd like it to look, particularly if it's only a small, simple addition to the home.

However, for something more complex and on a larger scale, you may wish to consider appointing an architect to prepare the design for you, as they will be best placed to give advice on the layout and appearance of the extension, as well as what the estimated cost will be.

Do I need planning permission? Depending on what type of extension you decide on will determine whether you need to apply to your local council for planning permission. Small, single-storey structures are usually exempt under 'permitted development rights',' whereas, two-storey extensions will require planning permission. If your property is listed and you live in a conservation area, listed building consent and conservation area consent respectively will also be required. If you have any planning queries, then discuss them with your local council's planning department who will offer you the right advice.

Most domestic house extensions will require building regulation approval. This involves submitting an application to the council with a copy of the design showing how the building will be constructed in accordance with current building standards.

The application is checked before works are undertaken and inspections are carried out during the build. At the end of the works, a 'Completion Certificate' is then issued, providing the works comply.

Party Wall If your extension involves digging into the ground within three or six metres of your neighbour's property and below the level of their foundations, such as building new foundations or laying drains, then you will need their permission before doing so in accordance with the Party Wall, etc Act 1996.

Similarly, if you're carrying out building works to the party wall, then you will also need your neighbour's approval. Party Wall Notices must be served before the building works commence and agreements must be put in place, therefore, allow plenty of time for this as it could result in delays being incurred.

Appointing a builder Choosing the right builder is fundamental if you want your project to be as stress-fee as possible, which I'm sure you do. Speak to family and friends for recommendations and try and get a minimum of three quotes.

If you have a builder in mind, ask them for references and don't be afraid to ask to see examples of their work. Some local authorities run 'safe trader' schemes and can provide you with a list of reputable companies in your area that have been vetted.

Even for small domestic building projects, make sure there is an agreement in place between you and your trusted builder.

This can be in the form of a simple exchange of letters setting out what the works are, their value, start and finish dates and when payments are to be made.

There are standard off-the-shelf, domestic building contracts available, or you could ask your solicitor to prepare a contract on your behalf.

My advice is to protect your interests in the event of a dispute, which can sometime happen on these types of projects. Better to be safe than sorry.

? Chris Scott is the northern director at Smithers Purslow Consulting Engineers and Surveyors. He can be contacted on


Chris Scott is the northern director at Smithers Purslow Consulting Engineers and Surveyors.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2017
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