Extension: A Beginner’s Guide

11th February 2018

Building an extension to a house is an increasingly popular choice for homeowners seeking to maximize the potential from their property space. As well as increasing the value of your home, building an extension can improve the space and layout of your home.

How long will it take?

House extensions don’t build themselves overnight, even Planning Application and Building Regulations can take months alone. In order to stay sane during the period you must be patient, as it may cause a sudden disruption to your normal life.

You may also want to think about what time of year, factor in things such as family events, birthdays, holidays which you want full use of your house without builders being in.

Will I need Planning Permission for an extension?

For some property alterations such as loft conversions and single storey extensions, you may not need planning permission. It’s best to get in contact with an architect to double check whether or not you may need to send a Planning Application to your council.

How to design an extension

Many people design their own extensions, using structural engineers for advise. Others use a design and build company who can take care of their whole project.

You can find so much inspiration online for your extension. Perfect places to find different styles of extensions are on websites such as Houzz, or if the architect you’re using has a portfolio, you can try checking it out for ideas.

Using an architect

It’s not just because we’re architects that we say you should use a professional.

Big projects such as loft conversions and extensions are not simple DIY jobs and we’ve all seen DIY jobs go wrong on TV! You will need services of an expert if you are planning on making major alterations to your home. In fact- part of the Planning Applications you will need proposed drawings from a qualified architect and other consultants such as structural engineers.

Safety and disruption when building

Do you share a party wall with a neighbour and could any of your work damage their property? If your extension involves building or digging foundations within 3m of the boundary, party wall or party wall struc­ture, or digging foun­dations within 6m of a boundary, the work will require you to comply with the Party Wall Act. In these cases you may need a surveyor to act on your behalf.

There’s also the social aspect of things – your plans could potentially ruin their way of life during the construction period, so it’s important that you let them know of your intentions right from the start.


As we said earlier, it’s good to plan well in advance. It may be a good idea to set yourself a timetable for completion. There is a chance that it will over-run, but if you lay down the ground rules from the beginning you may avoid living on a building site for months on end. Don’t underestimate the amount of concrete planning building an extension needs.

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