Build an extension, how to create the space you need? Building an extension is about creating the space you want. Read everything you need to know about costs, planning, and who should be on your team in our beginner’s guide
Building an extension can be both exciting and daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. So it’s worth knowing what it entails to make the whole process as simple as possible.
And no matter what type of extension you choose to build (glazed, one-story, or two-story, for example), most of the essentials and processes will remain the same.
Our beginner’s guide will show you what to consider before building an extension. From the costs per square meter and how to control your budget, to the size of the extension without a building permit, to who will be in charge of managing the project. Our guide on building an extension contains a wealth of information.
Costs, how much does it cost to build an extension?
How to keep your budget on track
The key to a successful expansion project is to build as your finances allow, rather than designing a dream project that your funds will never be able to cover.
If money is tight, invest more in the structure and materials that will not change later: tiles, exterior finishes and glazing, for example.
Designer kitchens and bathrooms can be installed a few years later, when the bank balance has recovered. In the meantime, specify non-designer but attractive products that you can live with until then.
Who will lead the project
Who will lead the expansion project?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to who will lead the build. You can choose a construction route that suits you, your budget, and the type of extension you want to build.
Hire an architect
The first option is to hire a professional architect or designer to prepare the plans for your project and accompany you throughout the process until the start of the works. Generally, if an architect is hired for a full design service, we will help the client designate and coordinate the remaining specialists and consultants until construction begins.
This includes coordinating the various consultants needed before the project begins, such as designers, structural engineers, party wall inspectors, the construction control officer, and other specialists. Your architect will also accompany you in the planning process.
Hire a design and build company
If you prefer to have it all under one roof, there are design and construction companies with in-house professionals who can accompany you from the beginning of the design process to completion. Or, for larger and more complex projects, you might consider hiring a professional project manager to oversee everything.
This option will save you time and possibly stress. In addition, using a professional project manager brings the advantage of experience. They will know how to manage the challenges that arise during construction because they will have done it many times before.
Manage the project yourself
If you are on a tight budget, managing the project on your own can be a way to save money. In addition to giving you a greater degree of control over budget and construction, it can be an enormously satisfying experience.
Divide project management
You may be able to divide the responsibilities between you and your contractor. For example, the construction company could be in charge of the construction until the extension reaches the sealing phase, at which point you would be in charge of managing the project with the rest of the subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, plasterers, etc.).
Every project is different, so the key to managing your expansion effectively is to develop a strategy that makes the most of your skills, the experience of the professionals you employ, and your budget.
How to find the right professionals
Whether you are looking for a reputable builder bringing in your own subordinates or looking for individual trades yourself, personal recommendation is the best way to find a high-quality professional.
Family, friends and neighbors are a good first port of call when making the long list of potential companies. Failing that, your architect or designer should be able to recommend professionals with whom you have worked on previous successful projects.
Once you’ve made a list of potential people, contact them for an informal chat about the project. It is important to ask them about their knowledge, experience and volume of work, and take advantage of the conversation to try to gauge their level of interest in the project.
For prime contractors, ask if you can speak to previous clients or see examples of their work to check the quality of the workmanship. Remember that word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising in the industry, which is why satisfied customers with previous projects are often more than willing to promote their builder. Also find out if the person is registered in a competent person system.
After you’ve spent a lot of time researching the details and talking to various professionals, you can start narrowing down the list of people you want to bring into your project.
Keep costs low
Can I build an extension at low cost?
One way to keep costs low is to choose a more economical building system. Concrete blocks are readily available and most builders know how to work with this material.
However, some modern construction methods, such as insulated structural panels, may cost more up front, but can save on labor on site, especially when it comes to insulating your extension.
If the design and shape of the extension are simple, for example square or rectangular with a flat roof, it will be more economical than angular designs with more complicated roof structures and a lot of glass.
And if you feel like doing some DIY, there are also tasks that can help the budget. The plastering of the walls, the laying of the floor and the tiles are tasks that can be carried out on a DIY basis.