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Think about extending before you make a move; Chartered surveyor Chris Scott offers advice on what to look at before extending your home.

NORTH East have been on the rise for some months, according to recent figures. Of course, not every area has benefitted from that rise and some, such as Tynemouth, have risen much higher.

This is good news if you can afford to take the next step up the ladder but many can't, so for those extending their property is a more viable option.

While I'm not convinced that, if you believe the title of the popular TV presenter and property developer Sarah Beeny's recent Channel 4 show, you can Double your House for Half the Money, I do believe that extending a home can often be easier and more cost effective than moving.

There are many things to consider before embarking on an extension, such as how you will fund the build, but there are three key issues to think about - the design , legal matters and choosing and choosing a builder.

You may have your own ideas about the layout and this might be a simple sketch drawing which you can pass on to your builder. However, it might be worth seeking advice from an architect.

If you decide to appoint an architect you will need to provide them with a brief. For example, tell them the reason for extending your home, the number and type of rooms you wish to add and most importantly, your budget.

It is worth inviting two or three architects to give them the opportunity to discuss their ideas and this will give you the chance to form an opinion of them. Make sure their appointment is confirmed in writing and ask for a schedule of their services, for example, the preparation of outline and full working drawings, the submission of statutory applications to the local authority, the preparation of tender documentation to issue to builders for pricing and whether they will attend site to inspect the works.

All this will be time and money well spent in the long run.

Another good reason to appoint an architect is that they should be best placed to advise you about your legal obligations. Planning permission and building regulation approval will often be required and if your house has listed status or you live in a conservation area, enquiries should be made to establish whether consent needs to be obtained from the local authority before starting the works.

For example, if you propose to excavate within three or six metres of your neighbour's property for the purposes of building new foundations or drains, or you intend to carry out works to a party wall or party fence wall, you will need to serve Party Wall Notices in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

We've all seen those TV programmes about dubious builders and home owners being left high and dry. Choosing the right builder is fundamental. Speak to family and friends for recommendations and always get a minimum of three quotations.

If you have a builder in mind, ask them for references and try 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 local area which they have vetted.

Make sure the contractor's appointment is agreed in writing setting set out what the works are, their value, the anticipated start and completion dates and when payments are to be made.

Off-the-shelf building contracts are available for small domestic projects however, you may wish to ask your solicitor to draw up a contract on your behalf.

Chris Scott is an associate of Smithers Purslow Consulting Engineers and Surveyors,
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 25, 2014
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