How to add an extension to your house

5 August 2009, Country Life Magazine

By Carla Passino

Adding extensions is a popular choice for those who need more space but don’t want to sell their house.

It will make your home more spacious, more easily sellable and possibly even more beautiful. An extension is one of the most valuable improvements you can make to your property, so long as you do it properly, accurately — and legally.

‘The most common mistakes people make when building an extension are doing the work without getting planning permission from the local council; thinking that the extension qualifies for permitted development rights when it doesn’t; and building something which aesthetically doesn’t work with the overall look and feel of the rest of the building,’ says Camilla Dell of Black Brick Property Solutions.

However, she adds, the good news is that these mistakes can easily be avoided by doing some thorough research in advance.

The first and most crucial step to take after you decide to build an extension is to get the planning right. New regulations that came into force in October 2008 classify extensions as permitted development work. This, together with the fact that a new wing can add value or speed up the process of selling your property in the future, has conspired to make extensions particularly mouth-watering.

What people don’t know, however, is that the permitted development rule only applies if more than a dozen conditions are met. Among others, the new wing, together with other buildings, should not take up more than half the land around the original house; it shouldn’t be higher than the highest part of the room; and it should have no verandahs, balconies or raised platforms.

So far, so simple, but some other limitations get really technical and can be confusing for the layman—for example, the one that sets the maximum depth of a single storey rear extension to ‘three metres beyond the rear wall of an attached house and four metres beyond the rear wall of a detached house.’ Or the one that requires side extensions to be ‘single storey with a maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house’.

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