Adam said to me the other night, “you should write a blog about the extension so far.” I replied with “we haven’t done anything yet.” Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed. To be honest, the planning and organising stage of a project is not my strong point. Maybe it’s because Adam enjoys it so I tend to leave him to it or maybe it’s because I think I’ll tell a trades person the wrong information or measurements and we will end up with something completely wrong!
Once it’s built and we have to make decisions on paint, textures, colour and accessories then I’ll definitely feel more confident.
Anyhow Adam has happily given me a list of all the steps we have overcome and completed so far and he’s right,
he we have achieved a lot.
So turns out there’s a lot of back and forward conversations to be had when planning an extension. One tradesperson needs you to liase with another first before they can proceed and that person needs you to get information from this person before they can move forward. It’s easy to lose track. We have found it useful to write down a list of the people we need to contact along with their quotes and lead times on delivery.
We used Gareth at Qube Design Group. Gareth is local to us but if you’re East Anglian based then give him a look. We spent a few evenings with Gareth chatting about what we wanted and he gave us some ideas and new things to think about. He was also able to point us in the direction of other people that we would need to contact and give us recommendations. I think some of the best recommendations you can get are from other people in the industry. They tend to know who is good and trustworthy and can often contact people on your behalf if they have a good relationship with them. Architects often know the next steps you need to take, this is what they do everyday, so they’re a good place to start. The architect also worked out that the size of our build would fall under permitted development, which meant that we wouldn’t need planning permission. Obviously depending on your own build, you may or may not need to consult the various people for planning permission.
Party wall agreement
Sounded fun to me, it isn’t, but it is necessary if you’re building onto your neighbour’s wall or on the property boundary, which we are. Luckily for us, our neighbor is great and after we popped round to have a chat and explain what we wanted to do, they were happy to sign our party wall agreement. This agreement needs to be drawn up by a solicitor and your neighbor will need to sign to say that they are happy with the building works. It helped that our neighbours have already had a side return extension so knew how it would look and that it wouldn’t really affect them at all. In fact it would give them extra insulation to their house. The party wall agreement is also a protection for them, should any damage be made to their property.
This can be a tricky one to chose. Our builder is actually an old friend of Adam’s and he also did the side return extension of our neighbor so he is completely clued up on the drainage, pipework, footings etc. of our house. We always wanted him and lucky for us he was able to fit us into his schedule for this March. Not only is he a great builder but he’s also a really nice personable guy. Adam will be at work during most of the building work so it was also important for me personally to have a builder in the house that I felt easy with and would be ok with young children running around. I feel like I can ask questions and discuss things with him about the building works without intimidation.
If you don’t have a builder that you know then I would recommend getting at least three different quotes so that you can make an informed decision.
Again, our builder is local to us but this is Ricci Wilson if you’re on the hunt in East Anglia
Our builder passed on the details of our structural engineer. He came over and inspected the kitchen. He then compiled a plan detailing what structural support we would need once the existing exterior wall is knocked out. This plan is needed before the builder can fully plan your build. Our structural engineer has organised for our steel beams to be manufactured so that we don’t need to organise this ourselves.
These come round at various stages to check that the building works are following the correct guidelines. They check everything against current regulations and ensure it’s following building regulations. Usually your architect or builder will have a contact for building control as they would usually have worked with them a lot in their day to day work.
Once we knew what support beams we needed and had discussed this over with the builder, we then needed to get the plumber over to talk about drainage, pipework and also moving our boiler. Often your builder will organise this for you but if you are managing your project on your own then you will need to source a plumber and get them to come over to take a look at any plumbing that may need to be moved during the build.
You almost have to imagine that the building work has been completed and you’re living in it to decide where you want the various plug sockets. We knew we wanted a TV point and we would need to reroute the lighting so that it would be central to the room. We also wanted additional lighting over the new table area. We would like wall lights on the new interior wall too (current neighbor wall) so we need a slim boarding up the wall so that electric cables could be ran up the wall to supply electricity to the wall lights.
We also wanted plug sockets on the island. This will probably be where we sit and work also so I wanted to be able to charge laptops etc. it’s all these little things that you don’t realise until it’s too late so be sure of where you need electricity.
We always knew we wanted some sort of glass in the ceiling. Our neighbours have a side return extension the same as what we are doing but they have three standard velux windows. These look great still but I feel that to gain the most amount of light in the kitchen, I wanted a larger solid piece of glass. We are working with Vario by Velux for our roof light and have decided to go for a fixed 3x1m roof light.It’s important to know the lead times on your roof light to ensure that its delivery coincides with where you are up to in your build. Our roof light has a 7-week lead-time.
Our new doors to the garden will be an aluminum framed Crittal style doors. We gained a few different quotes from various companies. We liaised with the door company and they advised us to get the wall built first so that we could then inform them of the gap size that the doors needed to fill. They can then measure up and make the door to fit. Again like the roof light, most of these doors are made to order so you need to be aware of lead times.
We are going to use Polyflor for our kitchen floor again but this time we have gone for a Herringbone design with an inlay border just to finish the edges off nicely. Although we have selected this type of floor, this will be one of the last things to go in so it’s not necessarily a decision that needs to be made so early in the build.This is where we are up to so far but with the builders starting this next week, I’ll be able to update you again on the next stage once it begins. We are hoping the majority of the bad weather is now behind us and they can make a good start but who knows what obstacles will come up!
I’ll write a phase 2 blog in a few weeks to keep you updated.