Easter marks the start of the home improvements season, with Londoners eager to create more space with extensions. Many have decided that staying put and improving their home makes more sense than moving on — saving on stamp duty, legal and mortgage fees and moving costs — especially because most new homes will need improvements anyway. So before doing anything to your North London home stay in control of your budget with these great suggestions from Entire Houze team.
Keep your design simple
Keeping your extension design as simple as possible such as a rectangle or square footprint with a simple pitched roof will vastly reduce the cost of your home extension. Curves and corners are costly to build, designing your extension around off the shelf products such as standard sized doors and windows will vastly reduce spend.
Save money with a DIY extension
Labour represents between half and two-thirds of the outlay cost for a home extension, so if you can do some of the work yourself, there is great scope to make savings. The easier tasks to take on board are labouring, decorating and landscaping and for the slightly braver kitchen and bathroom fitting.
Project manage the extension
A builder will add 15–25 per cent onto the total cost of labour and materials to cover their time for managing the project. You can save some of this cost by effectively taking on the role of building contractor yourself.
If you are building on or near the boundary of a neighbour, your extension will need to comply with the Party Wall Act (England & Wales) 1996. Avoid the cost of £700 per neighbour by writing about your extension plans eight weeks before you start. If you can get the neighbours to write back that they do not object, you can avoid using a surveyor to arrange a party wall settlement and save on fees.
Save On Fees
For a simple, low-cost build, find an architect, architectural technician, chartered surveyor or structural engineer who will produce planning and Building Regulations drawings for a fixed, all-in price. Look for a track record in designing low-cost projects.
Avoid Cowboy Builders
To avoid being ripped off, always ask for references — and check them. Never, ever pay for building work in advance; pay only for work that has been completed and that you are happy with.
Measure Everything Twice
Making changes or mistakes that waste labour and materials is a major factor in the final bill for many projects. Measuring everything onsite, rather than off your plans will help reduce wastage. Having accurate, scaled plans in the first place will help.
Reuse, Recycle, Repair
Existing materials can be reused or sold rather than thrown in a skip. Old floorboards, doors, radiators, towel rails, kitchen units etc. can all be revived and reused, cleaned up and given a new finish. Sell or trade what you can’t use.
Negotiate Trade Discounts
Find out where those in the trade buy their materials and aim to get the same wholesale/trade prices. Always negotiate and see if there is any discount for paying in cash — making sure you get a receipt.