Rising Cost of Moving House — Why it’s Better to Extend Your Home

 

An unfortunate fact of life in the UK is that it’s getting more and more expensive to move house every year. From taxes and duties to the simple logistics of getting all your belongings from one place to another, there are plenty of hidden fees to trip you up if you’re not careful. Here is a partial list of things to look out for…

 

Stamp duty

 

Assuming you’re not a first time buyer, you’ll be paying a percentage in stamp duty on your new home, starting at a value of £125,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or £145,000 if you’re in Scotland.

 

Valuation fee

 

This is charged by a mortgage broker before they assess how much they can lend you, and it can be anything up to £1,500, depending on the value of your property.

Legal fees

 

There’s a lot of paperwork involved in moving home, and you’ll need the services of a solicitor to ensure everything is in order. This can run you up to a maximum of £1,500.

 

Mortgage arrangement fee

 

This is a common charge in the process of getting your mortgage sorted. Expect to pay around £1,000 for the privilege, and if you’re unlucky, maybe even £2,000.

Land registry fee

 

In order to update the Government Land Registry and solidify your status as the new legal owner of your property, you’ll need to get this sorted. It can cost up to £1,000, depending on the value of your property.

 

Insurance

 

It’s important to get everything insured in case the worst should happen, but this will run you up a significant bill.

Estate agency fees

 

Selling one place to move into another? Well, you’ll be paying commission to your estate agent, potentially to the tune of more than £2,000.

 

New phone line/broadband

 

Got internet in the new place? Costs of installing a new line can go up to £75 or so.

Moving paraphernalia

 

You’ll be surprised how many things you realise you don’t have once you start the process of moving. Boxes? Bubble wrap? ‘Fragile’-marked sticky tape? It does add up! Then you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a way to transport it all, whether you’re driving it yourself or paying someone else to do it.

 

Maintenance and repairs

 

Unless your new home is brand-new, right off the shelf, then it’s an unfortunate fact that you’re likely going to have to do a little maintenance on it. Possibly more than you think — it’s estimated that the average repair bill for new homeowners is around £5,750!

 

VAT

 

Yeah… more bad news, we’re afraid. Lots of these costs are also going to have VAT slapped on top of them, at 20% of the cost.

 

If all this has got you a little alarmed, don’t panic. Moving home isn’t always the best solution, and if you’re finding the whole idea a little bit daunting, it may be best to explore other options. Are you planning on moving because you need more space, or you don’t like the look of your current home? Well, you can fix that without having to leave! Extending your home is a great way not only to improve its value, but also to make it a more pleasant place to live, spend time and make memories with your family. Give us a call today, and see what we can do to help keep you in your home and save you a thick bundle of cash.

 

Why the trend of extensions and loft conversions is BOOMING in Essex and Hertfordshire

Extending living spaces. Adding new rooms. Converting cramped old lofts into wonderful, sunlit attic rooms. There’s no doubt about it – the trend of extensions and of conversions is booming in Essex and Hertfordshire. More and more people are getting planning permission to turn their home into the dream space they always wanted — but why is this? Let’s take a look.

Moving house is getting more expensive

 

There are dozens of unexpected hidden costs involved in moving house that are just waiting to leap up and bite you. From legal fees to mortgage broker fees to the simple cost of getting all your possessions boxed up and in a van, moving house is a virtual minefield of ways to unexpectedly empty your wallet. And this is without even going into the uncertainty of the housing market and how changeable it can be. Many people believe home extensions are expensive but compared to the cost of moving house they’re a much smarter investment. We explain all in our blog 12 Myths About Property conversions

 

Finding the time

 

We’re all busier and busier these days, and moving home is a time-consuming activity before you’ve even found a house that you want to live in. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why many people are opting to take on the comparatively easier task of remaking their current home rather than finding a new one.

 

Boost the home’s value

 

Even for those who have their heart set on moving, it still makes sense to extend. Home improvements and extensions are time-honoured way of increasing your house’s value, and if you’re nervous about putting it on the market, making it into a nicer place can assuage your fears. Be careful though — you might end up liking the new, improved home so much that you end up wanting to stay put!

 

Home improvements are getting more creative

 

Architects and designers have been coming into their own with home improvements in recent years, and there have been some amazingly inspiring projects that have completely transformed the clients’ homes. No more are builders simply sticking a boxy extra room onto a Victorian-style cottage — now you can dream up glass kitchen/diner rooms, chic loft-based living spaces, glazed walkways to connect outbuildings and more, and talented builders can make them happen! There’s never been a better time for home improvement creativity. Read our blog on 7 Smartest Ways to Spend Your Money as a Homeowner For some fresh ideas! 

We love our area… and our homes!

 

And there’s no shame in that. People grow to like where they live — they find friends, hobbies, and good schools for the kids. Uprooting your entire life to move a few miles down the road feels like a needless chore, and yet you can’t imagine living anywhere further than a few miles down the road.

 

What’s the solution? Extend, extend, extend! Bring the dream home to you and turn your existing property into the happy home you’ve always wanted. Not sure where to start? Give us a call today and tell us about your ideas — we’re betting we can turn them into reality.

 

 

 

What planning permission do I need for a loft conversion?

So you’re thinking of having a loft conversion – great idea! Loft conversions are a great way of gaining well needed extra space without having to build an property extension. At first the amount of work may seem daunting, especially if you have never overseen a project like this before – that’s were we come in! A Bigger Home is here to do all the hard work for you. We do everything from design, planning and building control, right through to construction and completion. All you will have to concentrate on is the finishing touches to your new living space. First, lets take a few steps back and start at the beginning – planning permission. The first thing you should be thinking about, but do you even need planning permission? Well, Loft conversions are classed as permitted development and do not require planning permission, providing they meet the following conditions

 

  • Any new roofing must not exceed an additional 40 cubic metres of space on terraced houses.

 

  • Any new roofing must not exceed an additional 50 cubic metres of space on detached and semi-detached houses.

 

  • No extension must be made beyond the plane of the existing roof slope.

 

  •  No extension can be higher than the highest part of the roof.

 

  •  New roofing materials need to be like-for-like or close to original fittings.

 

  •  There must be no raised platforms or balconies.

 

  •  Side-facing windows must be set with obscured glazing and an opening 1.7-metres above the floor.

 

For listed buildings or those in conservation areas, visit planningportal.gov.uk

 

Sound interesting? Get in touch today.

 

 

What Planning Permission Do I Need for a Garage Extension?

Extending or converting a garage is a popular home improvement project. However, if this is one of the plans on your to-do list, you might be concerned about whether you need planning permission for it. In this blog we’ll look at this subject in a little more detail.

 

First, the good news. If you’re enlarging your garage but planning to continue to use it for the same purpose (i.e. as a garage) then you very likely don’t need planning permission to do so. The general rules are that as long as your garage is less than 15 square metres (if freestanding) or 30 square metres (if attached to the house), then you’ll be good to go.

 

However, converting a pre-existing garage into a habitable living space means there are a few criteria you’ll need to ensure you satisfy under Building Regulations, and this probably means planning permission. There are several categories of regulations that will likely apply to your proposed garage conversion.

 

Let’s take a look at these categories in more detail:

 

Doors and windows

 

Your garage extension and conversion will need to have doors and windows that are adequately insulated to avoid heat loss. If any panes of glass are particularly close to doors or the floor, they may also need safety glazing (the Planning Portal has a good rundown of the exact numbers). The size of the room will also affect how much ventilation is required, and this may change if you’re converting your garage into a room that produces a lot of steam, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

 

Drainage

 

You’ll need to think about above-ground drainage, i.e. rainwater from pipes and gutters, and if you’re planning to connect significant plumbing to your garage extension then there’s also the matter of connecting it with the local sewer network.

 

Electrics

 

Any new electrics you plan to install in your garage conversion will need to be inspected and certified by someone who is part of an approved certification scheme.

 

Walls

 

If you’re making significant changes to the external or internal walls of your garage, then there are plenty of regulations you may need to take into account. There needs to be adequate separation between the new habitable space and the remaining space, and there may also be sound insulation issues to consider. If you’re removing a wall, you need to be sure this can be done safely.

 

Roofs

 

This will depend on the extent of the work — if you’re altering less than 25% of the roof area then you are likely fine. However, any major alterations to a roof’s structure or appearance will likely mean you need to seek permission from the authorities.

 

What to do?

 

And lastly, some more good news. If you’re planning on extending and converting your garage and are worried about planning permission, the best thing you can do is involve a reputable, professional builder in your plans as early as possible. Why not give us a call today and tell us about your project!

 

How to Solve the Problems with Garage Extensions

Thinking of extending or converting your garage? Great idea! Many home garages are less than efficient uses of space, and can be converted to much greater uses to really transform your home. It’s important, however, that the conversion is done correctly and certain common pitfalls are avoided. These include…

 

  1. Not paying attention to building regulations

 

This is where it pays dividends to have a reputable company taking charge of your extension. Your new garage will need to comply to many different types of building regulation, including energy efficiency, sound insulation, heat insulation and more. Don’t be the homeowner who charges in without thinking about these things — talk to us about your plans and we’ll make sure they’re in keeping with regulations.

 

  1. Not planning utilities early

 

You may have the look and feel of your garage conversion planned out in your head, but have you thought about electricity supply? Water supply? Heating? These things need to be planned out well in advance, before any building starts, and your best bet is to get a professional assessment of how best to supply your garage conversion with everything it needs.

 

  1. Not considering foundations and structure

 

Your garage walls and foundations may not be equipped to support your grand plans, and this is something you absolutely need to know before you start. It’s best to get a professional builder or architect’s verdict on your proposed plans. They can inspect your garage in person and verify exactly what needs to be done to make it safe for your dream conversion.

 

  1. Not taking existing features into consideration

 

Many garages are used to house necessary but unsightly home appliances, such as a boiler. When you planned your conversion, did you take this into account? Do you plan to move the boiler, or work around it? A professional can help advise you what would be most cost-effective and least disruptive, and how you can get that dream conversion without compromising on the safety and effectiveness of your appliances.

 

  1. Not using the space to its full potential

 

Here’s a question you may not have thought to ask yourself — am I dreaming big enough? Have you thought that your garage may be tall enough to handle a split level with raised areas? Could you get even more natural light in there with some extra windows? Would glass doors leading to an outside recreational area make the room into a relaxing space all year round?

 

It’s your conversion — don’t be afraid to get exactly what you want! Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help.

 

How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Loft Conversions

Loft conversions are a hugely popular type of home improvement, however there are many common issues that prospective converters can run into. Here is our guide to a few of the most common and how to solve them…

 

  1. Is the ceiling too low?

 

If you want to convert your loft full of cardboard boxes into a liveable, usable space, you’ll need to take a look at the ceiling height. This can vary dramatically from loft to loft, but as a guide, the minimum height that’s generally accepted as suitable for conversion is 2.3m. If your loft isn’t this high, then don’t worry! There are plenty of fixes, including lowering the ceiling of the room below, or removing and remodelling sections of the roof to create space. This latter solution does require planning permission, which leads us to…

 

 

  1. Do I need planning permission?

 

As you might expect, whether you need planning permission depends on what exactly your plans are. Likely, you won’t, however, if you are planning alterations to the roof then you may. Additions of up to 40 cubic metres roof space on a terraced house or 50 cubic metres on a detached house do not require permission, so unless your conversion is a majorly expansive project, you should be fine. Finalise your plans with your architect and go over all regulations before you start building.

 

 

  1. Have I thought about stair access?

 

It’s all well and good planning an elaborate new playroom for the loft, but not if you don’t think about how you and your family are actually going to get up there! It’s critical to plan with the lower floors in mind, and have a concrete idea of where the access stairs for your new conversion are going to go. This is something your building firm can help you with in the planning stages.

 

 

  1. Will there be enough natural light?

 

You want your loft conversion to be a space that’s enjoyable to be in at all times, and nothing makes a space feel cramped and unwelcoming like a lack of natural light. A rear dormer conversion is the best idea, as it generally doesn’t require planning permission, and it can transform your loft from a dark, unused room to the brightest in the house!

 

 

 

  1. Have I considered building regulations?

 

This is why it’s so critical to trust a reputable firm with your loft conversion. There are many regulations to bear in mind when you’re planning a loft conversion — accessibility of fire exits, thermal efficiency, the ceiling joists below, and more. You need to be sure that your building firm understands these regulations and can make sure your loft conversion abides by them.

 

 

 

Want to avoid these problems? Put your loft conversion in the hands of the professionals. Give us a call today and let us know what we can do for you!

Case Studies: Westcliff


The area

There’s nothing like living by the sea! Westcliff-on-sea sits on the north bank of the Thames estuary, and its close proximity to London makes it a perfect place for commuters with families to put down roots. It’s always a pleasure to head out to this part of Essex for a job to get a taste of the sea air.

 

The brief

We could spot the issue here as soon as we arrived at the property! Our client at Westcliff had an old lean-to at the side of their house that was in terrible shape, leaky and shabby. It was also an impractical place for the house’s creaking old boiler to be housed. The clients wanted to do away with the entire thing, and use the space that was created to make a new open-plan kitchen space where they could entertain friends and family.

Sounds like a plan to us! Time to get to work.

 

The job

First things first — the old lean-to needed to go! Thankfully this was quickly accomplished, leaving us free to get on with constructing a new single-storey side extension. We then knocked through the walls to make the open-plan kitchen and dining space our clients were dreaming of, and what’s more we added some aluminium bi-folding doors that could be opened fully for when the sun was out. This meant the space was even more open and airy — perfect for entertaining and al fresco dining.

 

The result

With the leaky old lean-to gone and the new open space put in, the clients’ home had been transformed into a beautiful place to live, entertain and enjoy that seaside air in the sun.

 

Another success! Time for the next job…

 

12 bathroom ideas you’re going to love


Want to jazz up your bathroom a little? Take some inspiration from some of our favourite looks and ideas…

1. A sunken bath

A bath sunk into your floor is the perfect thing to slide into and relax after a hard day at work. Treat yourself to a little luxury!

2. Pool-style anti-slip mosaic tiles

These aren’t just stylish — they help make your bathroom safer and more slip-proof. Especially useful if you have little ones running around.

3. Storage shelves

If you’re tired of bottles and other junk cluttering up your bathroom, a few elegant mounted shelves can be the perfect way to free up floor space and get everything out of the way.

4. Uniform tiles

Using the same tiling across the floor and walls of your bathroom is a great way to achieve a uniform look and make the whole place feel a little more zen and peaceful. It’s a place you want to be calm, so make it as calm as possible!

5. A walk-in shower

If you’ve got the space to box off for a walk-in shower, they’re the perfect way to add a touch of class and make your bathroom feel more like part of your home.

6. Wooden floor

Say goodbye to tacky linoleum! A wooden-floored bathroom gives a home an unmistakably rustic feel while still being easy to keep clean.,

7. A skylight

The perfect way to let more light into your bathroom without compromising on privacy — a skylight can completely transform the feel of a small bathroom, especially an attic conversion.

8. Shower and steam room combo

No reason it can’t be done, if you’ve got the space! A bespoke walk-in shower that also functions as a walk-in steam room is a lovely luxury that could be just what you need to unwind on the weekend.

9. High ceilings

Bathrooms often tend to feel cramped. A high-ceilinged bathroom feels extremely modern and is a very relaxing space. A great place to perfect your morning routine!

10. Marble

Want that spa chic? A marble bathroom simply screams opulence and taste, and the flexibility of colour means you can get it the exact shade you want it.

11. A copper tub

Hey, it was good enough for the Victorians! And these days it just screams vintage charm and comfort.

12. Dual sinks

For him and her, perhaps? A pair of matching sinks is a lovely way for you and your partner to enjoy your morning and nighttime routines together.

Case Studies: Billericay

The location:

Billericay is a lovely little Essex town and a place with truly ancient history — it’s thought to date back to the Bronze Age! It houses many beautiful residences from the Georgian and Victorian eras, and those lucky enough to live there have plenty of attractions to enjoy such as the beautiful Mill Meadows, a local nature reserve. It’s a gorgeous place to visit!

 

 

The brief:

It’s always a good feeling when a customer comes to us through word of mouth. This client approached us because they’d heard we know our business when it comes to double-storey extensions — and they were absolutely correct! It’s an area of particular expertise, and it’s always a pleasure to take on this kind of job.

The customer wanted not only to add two bedrooms to the upstairs, ideally with an ensuite, but also create an extended kitchen/dining area on the ground floor where the family could cook and eat together.

Sounds simple enough, right? Time to get to work…

 

 

The job:

First things first, the new bedrooms. We constructed the new double-storey extension in which to house the new master bedroom, complete with ensuite bathroom. This bedroom we finished off with full-height sliding doors and a glazed balcony — all the better to enjoy the beauty of Billericay from!

Next it was time to sort the downstairs. We knocked through the walls between the kitchen and dining room, creating the larger open-plan cooking and eating area for the family to enjoy, just as the client asked.

 

 

The result:

A home to match the loveliness of the town surrounding it! Adding space to both the upstairs and downstairs of the house has made into a much more relaxing and homey space, providing room for a family to grow and make a few memories together.

A wonderful success story! Time to move on to the next job…

 

 

 

 

7 Smartest Ways to Spend Your Money as a Homeowner

 

How can you add value to your home most efficiently? Here are our cost-effective suggestions

 

 

1. Exterior

This should be your first port of call when looking to add value to your home. Assess the exterior – the first thing a prospective buyer lays their eyes on when viewing your home — and look for ways you can improve. The windows, the roof, the front door, everything. These are things that you can spend relatively little on replacing or improving and as a result add a huge amount of value to your house. This isn’t just a sensible investment; it’s an essential one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Garden

Don’t neglect your garden as well as your house, especially if you have a front garden that your prospective buyers will be walking through before they even cross the front threshold. You don’t need to over-complicate matters, but investing time and a little cash into making your garden well-groomed and stylish can pay dividends to your home’s value.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Floors

It doesn’t need to be about extending or adding bits on. Replacing your musty carpets or faded linoleum with beautiful, polished hardwood can be one of the most cost-effective ways to transform your house and make it feel so much more high-end and glamorous. The work is minimal, and the returns can be amazing. What more could you ask for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Conservatory

A conservatory not only adds extra room to your house, it can also create a beautiful summery space to spend time and make a difference to how your house looks from the outside. Conservatories have a reputation for reliable return on investment — if you want a safe bet, this is a great place to start.

 

 

5. Loft

In many houses lofts are simply dead space — be honest, could yours be used more effectively? If so, it’s time to throw away those mouldering cardboard boxes and make your loft space into something that’s working for you. A new games room? A cosy, tucked away bedroom? It can even stay as a room for storage if you have too much stuff to get rid of, but you can still make it into an attractive space that’s adding value to your home, not taking it away. As a nice extra bonus, if you don’t extend the roof, you’re guaranteed not to need planning permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Kitchen

Studies have shown that one of the first rooms prospective buyers of a house pay attention to is the kitchen, wanting it to be just how they like it. So if you can make yours fully fitted and ready for prospective buyers who don’t want the hassle of making theirs from scratch, you can really bump up the value of your property. Here is where it’s especially important to invest properly — put the money in, and you and your buyers will be thrilled with the results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Extension

And finally, if there’s one surefire way of making your home start earning more for you, it’s by extending your property. Relaxed planning regulations from 2016 mean it’s never been easier to start an ambitious extension project; if you want you can even expand over multiple floors, whether you want to expand your existing rooms or add brand new ones. Nervous? There’s no need to be — check out our blog on the 12 Myths About Property Extensions to put your fears to rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to give it a try? Get in touch today.