There are two times in the life of your family when you are likely to need more living space: when your family grows and, ironically, when your children have grown up and left home. The classic family space dilemma often comes when your family expands from one to two, or maybe even three children. Suddenly there is no longer enough storage space in the house, you may need an additional bedroom, a playroom, or a larger living room. With a growing number of professional couples now working from home, there is also the question of office space. How do you find enough undisturbed space to work at home with a loud, large and demanding family?!
Even if your home is able to absorb the demands of a growing family, additional need for space frequently arises as your children grow older. Teenagers need quiet and space to study in, or simply to retreat with their headphones, while adults need occasional time away from their wonderful adolescent offspring. As your children approach adulthood they will no doubt start bringing friends, boyfriends and girlfriends home, and your driveway may no longer be big enough for one or more additional cars.
For couples whose children have left home and are approaching retirement, the need for space re-emerges for different reasons. For so many years you have worked hard to provide for your family and save for your retirement. Now it’s your time to shine, to enjoy your home and to spread out on your terms. Wouldn’t it be great to have the extra
bedroom for when the grandkids come to stay, a larger dining room, a conservatory or games room?
There are two main options when you need more space: either you move home or you extend your property. Both options require an investment in time and money and come with potential disruption – so our purpose is to help guide you through your thought process and come to a decision that is right for you.
At whatever stage of life you are at, if you need to extend your living space, then this e-book is for you.
We are the BDS group,
consisting of BDS Architecture
Ltd and BDS Construction Ltd.
We specialise in bespoke, high quality house extensions to meet your living requirements. We are an unusual business in that we accommodate both an architectural design service and building contractor under the same roof. This is good for our customers, as we are able to integrate all aspects of the design and build seamlessly, without you having to deal with separate companies. It eliminates many of the traditional frustrations people have with house extensions, but we’ll go into this in more detail later in the guide.
"Our purpose with this e-book is to make it easy for you to understand all aspects of designing and building an extension."
So in the sections that follow we will go into the decision-making process when deciding between a move and extension, the pros and cons of each, and how to choose a reputable architect and builder. We hope that by the end of the guide you will be able to approach your house extension – if this is your decision – with excitement and confidence.
Expanding your home can transform your life. It is an adventure and should be enjoyable. We are here to makit happen for you and to make your dreams of additional
space a reality.
In the introduction we suggested broad life stages where people may find they need more space, but these are by nature generalisations. Different people have different space requirements, and different preferences too. How can you really tell if your house is fit for purpose? When is it time to start planning for more space? In a matter of minutes, a video can convey what your company does, what it stands for and – most importantly – what it might be like as an employee of your business.
Letting Your Lifestyle Guide You
What you will notice about working with BDS on a house extension is the emphasis we place on making the right decision. Choosing to extend your home is not like buying a sofa. It is a commitment of time and money that will alter your home forever, so it is worth taking time to make the right decision. We are not in any rush. We want to set you at ease and make sure everything is clear in your mind, so you get the home extension that ticks all the right boxes.
This is why we offer a free design consultation. Full contact details are provided at the end of this e-book, but if you’ve already got your heart set on an extension, you can contact us for your consultation by Clicking Here.
Here are some classic signs that you may have outgrown your home, either figuratively or literally:
1. Your Home Is Getting Cluttered
You may technically have enough bedrooms for your family, but if you start finding it difficult to put things away or keep the place tidy then it is a sign you could do with some more storage space. Not all houses are built with walk-in wardrobes and enough space for toys, kitchen appliances, clothes and modern gadgets. People accumulate possessions and furniture over time, and also as the family grows, but you may also need space as you invest in more hobbies and activities. For instance, you may wish to invest in a piano, a new oak dining table or a home gym. Where do you house these items? New York on your hands!
2. You’ve Started Working From Home
Flexible hours and homeworking are liberating experiences for many people, so long as you have the space to do so comfortably. It is less pleasurable if you’re forced to work in a dark corner under the stairs, or while cramped into a spare bedroom on a tiny desk. Giving yourself the freedom to work in your own space can massively increase your productivity and your enjoyment of work.
3. Grown-Up Children Living At Home
Twenty First Century adult children are frequently like boomerangs. They leave for a while, they go to university, and then they come home and live with you for X number of years while saving for a house deposit. They may even come with a partner or child in tow. At these times you could do with an extra bedroom and/or bathroom so you don’t get under each other’s feet. The same would apply if you find yourself having to care for an elderly parent.
4. You Enjoy Entertaining
Some people enjoy nothing better than a great party. Does this sound familiar? A sign of a need for more space for some people is when their social circle grows to the extent that they can’t fit people around the dinner table, or they don’t have enough guest bedrooms for people to stay over.
5. You’ve Taken Up New Hobbies
We enrich our lives with the hobbies we take on. How do you find space in your home to indulge your love of yoga, darts, table football, home brewing, watercolour painting or model railways? Many hobbies need dedicated space, and in retirement people have the time and resources to spend on them. A home should give you enough space to accommodate your interests and allow you to thrive on your own terms.
So is it time to move house, or to extend? Both are great ways to expand your living space. Both have relative advantages and disadvantages. In the next two sections we will look at both moving and extending, to help you evaluate your options.
Moving house is a big decision that involves rethinking so many different elements of your life, so it is sometimes a surprise when people go into it so lightly. There are definite advantages to moving home and sometimes it is the best decision for your family. For instance, you may have lived all your life in a certain area because of work and your children’s school, but now you are retired there is no reason that you shouldn’t relocate to the North Norfolk coast or the Peak District. Why not? Similarly, you may have moved away from your home area for university, got married and lived there for a while, but now you’ve got kids on the way you may want to move closer to your parents and family again.
Or you may just need more space…
The trouble with moving house is that it raises a lot of questions as well as the ones it answers. For example:
- If you move out of a catchment area you may need to move your children from their current school.
- You may need to move job, adopt flexible working patterns or commute a greater distance.
- It may be more difficult to see friends and family.
Our opinion is that you should give some considered thought to moving home, but that it shouldn’t be your number one choice if it is only space that you need. If there are a combination of factors, then go for it. But if it is space for a specific purpose, and give an extension some thought first.
The chances are it will save you a lot of money and a lot of hassle too.
Moving House Expenses
|While not necessarily ‘cons’, moving house does come with a lot of expenses. It is invariably the costlier option. As you are moving to expand your space to a bigger house, you will probably need further borrowing, which is unappealing for people going into retirement. There is also the question of outlay on a large deposit, stamp duty and the costs of moving itself. This just covers the financial expenses. There are also the intangible stresses of moving home, such as the time needed to look around for a suitable property, dealing with estate agents, or the frustration when things sometimes fall through. The alternative is to invest in a house extension. In the next section we will discuss what is involved and why we think you should give it some serious thought.|
House extensions are a very broad topic. Some extensions are grand affairs, while others are quite small and unobtrusive. It really depends how much space you need and what you need it for. A classic two-storey extension on the side of your property will give you plenty of space for one or more bedrooms, a bathroom, home office or garage, for instance. Other options are available to you as well, such as converting your loft or transforming your cellar into a games room. In fact, in the hands of a competent architectural designer and skilled construction company, you are limited only by your imaginatio.
So here are the main advantages:
1. Gives you the additional space you need without the disruption of moving house. Stay close to your friends and family. Keep your kids in the same school. Don’t change your drive to work.
2. Costs a lot less than moving to a bigger house. A very loose, ballpark estimate of a house extension budget ranges from £15,000-£60,000. To move to a larger home you may need to borrow an additional £100,000 to £200,000 or more, depending on the area, property size and the cash you have available for a deposit.
3. Take advantage of bespoke space. When you move house you move into a property that was not designed for you, but for someone else. It is therefore never a bespoke space unless you extend it. The first thing you do when looking around a new property is think about how you might fit your furniture, possessions and lifestyle into the available rooms. A house extension turns the process on its head. It creates new space to build around you. Therefore there is less adaptation time, as your new extension fits around your lifestyle like a glove. This is where our residential architectural designers come into their own. We can sit down with you and come up with a plan that gives you the space you need while making creative use of your budget. No goal is unachievable with the right expertise and the will to carry it through.
Common Problems With House Extensions
It wouldn’t be honest if we said there aren’t certain challenges involved with extending a house. Some factors, such as planning permission and building regulations, affect everybody, while other issues, such as problems with building contractors, can be avoided. Even the dreaded planning permit doesn’t need to be a problem if you have the right people on side to take a systematic approach:
Extension plans run into trouble if they are not thought out properly. Tim Foster, our lead designer, is thoroughly familiar with the planning process and can guide you through everything that is involved from day one. In fact, when discussing your ideas and plans for your extension, we will help you frame these goals in terms of what we know will be
We will then submit your architectural plans to your local authority planning and building control departments. This involves a series of structural calculations and surveys that verify your extension as sound. We can take care of this whole issue for you. When carried out diligently there are rarely any delays, and we are well equipped to liaise with your local authority on your behalf to iron out any difficulties.
Building regulations are designed to ensure the homes we live in are safe, sustainable and meet minimum standards for energy efficiency and structural strength. They are, ultimately, a good thing. Some building regulations also prevent contamination of water, prevent misconduct by building contractors and preserve the character of your area. You
Building regulations come across as intimidating red tape to many people, but they are really nothing to be worried about. Our architectural consultants at BDS are familiar with all the regulations and know how to create compliant designs that meet and exceed all the required safety standards.
With us you can be assured that your planning process is in safe hands and your extension will be built to the highest construction standards.
Problems With Building Contractors
The most infamous difficulty people have with extensions is with builders. Often builders get a bad rap – there are many highly talented, professional contractors out there. However, problems do arise due to one or more of the following reasons:
- The contractor miscalculates the time needed to complete the extension.
- They underestimate the number of people required to complete the project.
- The quote they give you turns out to not cover their expenses, leading to delays and/
- The contractor does not have the skills to complete the extension to the required
standard or schedule.
All of these problems, in our opinion, arise from the contractor not having familiarity or ownership of the architectural plans. As they did not create the design themselves, builders feel diminished responsibility for any defects in the process, being happy to blame it on the architect or designer.
They also may not be fully aware of what resources, skills and expenses are required to execute the plan. There are also, unfortunately, a fair number of unscrupulous and dishonest builders out there. Disagreements with building contractors are a sad state of affairs, and can frequently end up in court.
Working With BDS
Working with a company like BDS avoids all of these issues, because we handle both the architectural and the construction side of the product. As everyone involved is singing from the same sheet, there is no room for misunderstanding or miscalculation at the design phase. The result is an accurate construction quote, a realistic schedule and a well-resourced build: house extensions without the stress!
Chartered Architect Or Architectural Designer?
What are the real differences between Chartered Architects and Architectural Designers? Ultimately it comes down to membership of professional bodies, rather than any real difference in skills.
Chartered Architects are paid up members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), or one of their regional equivalents, such as Scotland’s Royal Incorporation of Architects. Chartered Architects have to study for many years and come to the job with a lot of theoretical knowledge – and they have a nice looking certificate to prove it. Unfortunately, what some Chartered Architects have in theory, they lack in practical experience.
For ‘low value’ domestic house extension projects, architectural firms will sometimes assign newly qualified graduates or trainee architects to the job. These people may
have no direct experience of house design at all. This is a recipe for problems, as you may end up with a lovely plan that fails to attain planning permission, or runs into
problems during the construction phase.
Chartered Architects do take on house extensions, but their bread-and-butter projects are usually larger: commercial builds or large-scale housing development projects. Their prices are high to reflect their investment in education and the commercial demand for their services. Private clients don’t always get the best value for money from Chartered Architects.
Architectural Designers have the same level of skills as Chartered Architects, but have different professional affiliations. Architectural Designers do have professional accreditations, but there is a greater emphasis on practical application in addition to theory. An Architectural Designer may not have spent seven years at university, but
they are likely to have more direct experience working on new build homes and house extensions.
Architectural Designers specialise in smaller projects and are a less expensive option than a Chartered Architect for homeowners. Architectural Designers bring extensive
knowledge of planning and building regulations, as well as of creating design plans that match the practical needs of home extensions.
Working timescales are also a difference between the two types of architect. A Chartered Architect may struggle to accommodate your work within a reasonable timeframe, because they are busy servicing large clients. An Architectural Designer will be able to prioritise your work and give you a quicker turnaround.
Personalised Service From A Residential Architectural Specialist
At BDS Architecture, we are Architectural Designers, rather than Chartered Architects. We offer all the same services as an architect and work in exactly the same way. We have extensive knowledge and experience of residential architectural projects, and offer personalised, unbiased advice to give you the results you need within a realistic budget. We don’t charge you the same fees that we would a large commercial client, and we don’t pass the costs of expensive professional memberships on to you.
Questions To Ask A Building Contractor
As discussed in a previous section, the building trade is sometimes notorious for not completing house extensions within budget or on time. Knowing who you can trust is difficult, and builder recommendations are frequently hard to verify. If you do choose to source your own builder, here are a set of questions you should ask to set expectations for service delivery:
“Have You Built Extensions Like This Before?”
The most important thing is to verify is if the builder is competent to do your job. It is reasonable to expect the builder to have carried out similar extension work to yours before. Follow this up by asking the builder for both customer and trade references. A trade reference could be from a building supplier, indicating financial stability and credit management. Customer references should be from a mixture of both new and old projects to verify how the construction stands up over time. Make sure you get phone numbers and people you can chat with to avoid being given false numbers.
“Are You VAT Registered?”
Any business with an annual turnover of £83,000 has to register for VAT. VAT registration proves two things; that the business is incorporated legitimately and that the builder has regular experience taking on large projects. Some small building contractors are not VAT registered, but these probably do not have experience doing house extensions. Ask to see the builder’s VAT registration number and verify it online.
“Can I Have A Written Quote/Contract?”
Expect a written quote, rather than a verbal estimate. Your quote should state exactly what is included and how much each item costs. Make sure everything is covered, such as start date, completion date, health and safety, toilet arrangements, rubble disposal, working hours etc. Make this the basis of a written contract which you both sign. An established building contractor will be happy to do this. Your contract will form the basis for resolving disagreements if it comes to a dispute.
“Are You Insured?”
Legally, a builder has to have public liability and employer’s liability insurance. For house extensions we recommend cover up to £2 million as standard. Request to see the builder’s insurance certificates.
“Do You Require A Deposit?”
A reputable building contractor should not ask for a deposit on a large project, unless your extension requires the purchase of specialist equipment and materials. They should already have the resources to begin your work under normal circumstances. Arrange payment in instalments by bank transfer, not cash. It is sensible to agree to retain a percentage of the total value until you have signed off the work is satisfactory.
“Are You Members Of The Federation Of Master Builders (FMB)?”
The FMB is a UK wide trade organisation that ensures high standards in the construction industry. You can be confident that FMB accredited builders carry out their work according to the book, with a full health and safety record and established business infrastructure.
Approximate Building Costs
How much should a building contractor cost? Estimates vary widely, so don’t go with the first person who gives you a price. Speak to at least three contractors and get quotes from each of them.
To ensure you’re not being overcharged, you can find average prices through the Building Costs Information Service (BCIS) http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/bcis/
As a rough guide, you can expect to pay the following:
- Independent building contractor with a small team: £1,000-£1,200 per metre.
- Established or national building company with project management service: £1,200 per metre plus.
Bear in mind that the lowest quote is not necessarily the best. A very cheap quote could be a sign that the builder has underestimated the work and materials involved.
Equally, you shouldn’t pay over the odds simply for the services of an established brand. The quote should reflect the work involved. The most important factor is to verify exactly what is covered by the quote, including whether or not they will project manage the build for you.
If they don’t, then your extension will also involve an investment of time from you in
order to project manage the construction.
It is fair to say that we feel you are better off NOT employing a separate architect and builder. Instead, you should work with an established, accredited company that includes architectural, design and construction services under the same invoice. This is the comprehensive service we offer at BDS and is why we feel we are uniquely positioned to give you the best value for money, without any of the headaches that sometimes come with a house extension.
It starts with a free chat with one of our designers over the phone. Once we know what you have in mind and the work involved, we will get back to you with a fixed price quote that covers all the work – from design to planning application, through to construction. There is nothing clinical about our service. Extensions are deeply personal and have a big impact on your life, so our focus is on personal service.
We offer the complete package to our customers, underscored by professional accreditation and a proven reputation for quality. We are creative and flexible architectural
designers providing a complete consultation and design service.
Our consultation starts with a home visit and includes designs drawn up to your specifications. We project manage every build ourselves, and you will deal with the same person throughout your project.
Our construction arm, BDS Construction Ltd, is a well-established building contractor in its own right. We have a trained team of skilled craftspeople and established
relationships with building suppliers.
They give us access to the best materials for your extension. We specialise in all sorts of residential builds, including extensions, and we have a long list of happy customers
that you are welcome to contact for a reference.
Our work comes with a guarantee that it will be completed on time and within the agreed budget.
We also have experience in commercial projects. If this is something that interests you, please see our case studies section below, and give us a call for further details.
Services Included In Your Quote
Every extension includes the following quality guarantees as standard:
- £750,000 Architectural Professional Indemnity Insurance.
- £5 million structural and design insurance.
- £2 million public liability insurance, covering any damage to property or injuries
- £10 million employer’s liability insurance.
- £250,000 accidental damage insurance.
- All materials covered by manufacturer guarantees.
- Guarantees on workmanship covered by BDS.
At BDS, we are committed to promoting customer confidence and contributing to raising standards across the residential construction trade. We are therefore proud to be accredited to the following bodies:
- Federation of Master Builders (FMB) http://www.fmb.org.uk/
- Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Partners https://www.labc.co.uk/
- MFA Building Control Ltd (An approved private sector building regulations authority) http://www.mfa.uk.com/
Visit our website to view details and beautiful pictures from some of our residential and commercial building projects. We can’t wait to chat with you about your build! Please give us a call if you have any questions.
Taking The Next Steps
We hope that we have been able to give you enough information to begin making a decision about whether to proceed with a house extension. Extending your home is an
exciting journey and we would love to be part of that with you.
The next step is to get in touch for an informal, no obligation chat. We look forward to hearing your design ideas and to start working on a great extension plan for you.
You can get in touch by any of the means below:
Telephone: 01332 830 313
We look forward to hearing from you.