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
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 should be good to go (although we always ensure we obtain a certificate of lawfulness on your behalf)
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. 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.
You’ll need to think about above-ground drainage, and if you’re planning to connect significant plumbing to your garage extension then there’s also the matter of connecting it with the underground drainage run/local sewer network.
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.
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 and structurally.
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, height 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 company in your plans as early as possible. Why not give us a call today and tell us about your project!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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…
How can you add value to your home most efficiently? Here are our cost-effective suggestions
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
We headed to Chafford Hundred to take on a new brief from a prospective client. A relatively new and desirable area to live in, Chafford Hundred is proving more and more popular for buyers, especially those with an eye on commuting into London. It’s previously been named among the most coveted areas in the country by The Evening Standard, and many of the people who buy there are keen to put down roots and settle permanently. Chafford Hundred comes under the jurisdiction of the Thurrock local authorities in Essex, and any planning decisions will go through them. As you’ll soon see, this would prove important for this particular job…
Our Chafford Hundred customer was blessed with a rapidly expanding family, and found themselves needing a space for the children to play. Of course, big kids need a place to play just as much as little one, and the client was keen that the new space would also be able to house their pool table and running machine. This space needed to serve another function as well — as an extra spare bedroom, where other family members could sleep when they came to stay.
Time to get to work.
Fulfilling this brief proved to be a challenge, as there were many different elements at play. We designed a loft conversion in conjunction with not only the architect but also the local authority — a lack of developing rights on the property meant we had to be careful with planning permission and be very sure exactly what we were and weren’t allowed to build.
We decided a dormer-style conversion was the way to go, however according to the Thurrock Planning Department, flat roof dormers were out — it’d be against the planning regulations for this particular property. Instead, we came up with a Mansard-style dormer designs, which required us to remove the existing roof and brick up the existing gables. This gave us free rein to create the roof design we had envisioned, build the Mansard-style dormers, and fulfil our client’s brief.
A great success. The client’s growing family use the new space daily, and the extra space goes a long way towards making this house feel like a proper family home. Thanks to our careful work with the planning authorities, it’s all above board as well.
Many people are put off the idea of extending their property because of the same tired old saws that get trotted out by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Well, no longer! We’re going to bust a few of the most famous myths about property extensions and explain why there’s nothing stopping you from getting your dream home.
1. It’s expensive
It doesn’t have to be! If you agree a concrete plan with your contractors in advance and know exactly what you want, getting an extension on your property can be managed for a very affordable price.
2. It’ll take ages
Again, this is where it pays to be prepared. Jobs like property extensions only tend to balloon out of control when people are unclear or unsure of what they want to get out of it. In reality, it can be a simple matter of weeks before you have your home looking exactly how you want it.
3. I’ll need planning permission
This puts many people off the idea of an extension, but the reality is that unless you’re planning something seriously big, you very likely don’t need planning permission at all. It always pays to check — your local authority can help you if needed, but there’s a good chance you’re safe to start extending without having to fill in any forms.
4. Planning permission will take ages
If it turns out you do need planning permission, then don’t lose heart — as long as you take time to check all your documentation is in order, you can see your application through in a matter of weeks and get to building.
5. I need to ask the neighbours
In a similar vein, many people assume they need their neighbours’ consent before making any changes to their property. In some cases this is true, but it’s always worth booking a free home consultation, so we can spot any party wall issues.
6. The neighbours will never agree
If it transpires you do need your neighbours’ assent for the build, it’s easy to be afraid that your plans will fall at this hurdle. However, most people are reasonable, and if you provide your neighbour with realistic assessments of how everything will work and how long it’ll take, really they have no reason to turn you down.
7. I’ll have to move out
Building work can be disruptive of course, but there are many steps you can take to minimise this. From building a makeshift temporary kitchen to erecting stud partitions to ward off the dust, there are plenty of ways to stop an extension from disrupting your life and allow you to continue enjoying your home while the work goes on.
8. It’ll completely disrupt my life
Work on your home can be intense, but you’d be surprised how many people who’ve had work done on their house will tell you how easy it was to cope with. Again, planning and preparation will pay dividends.
9. I should only use builders my friends recommend
This is a common sentiment, but in reality it’s not always so simple. You can often find a much better deal by doing your own independent research and comparing the work of builders yourself. Don’t simply assume that someone who was the right fit for a friend is also the right fit for you!
10. People only extend to sell their homes on
It’s best not to think of it this way. If you’re in your forever home and couldn’t dream of going anywhere else, an extension can still be a wonderful thing for you. You might want more space, or find yourself wishing you had a space to entertain friends, or even find yourself facing the prospect of a growing family. Extensions aren’t just about selling — they’re about making homes.
11. I just don’t know where to start
Not everyone is a building maestro! You can set the level of involvement you have with your extension at precisely the level you’re comfortable with, whether you’re competent to draw up plans yourself, or you’re happy to completely leave it in the hands of the pros.
12. I’ll just never get round to it
That’s something we can fix right now! Give us a call and we’ll see what we can do for you.
After a client got in touch, we headed to Hockley. A picturesque little Essex village, it’s always a pleasure to visit.
For this job, we had two main challenges. First, the customer wanted more living space to relax and spend their evenings in, whether that was watching TV as a family or entertaining when friends came over. The current living room was simply too small for their purposes.
Second, the family had previously converted their garage, and this meant they needed somewhere new to park their cars. It needed space for multiple vehicles, to be accessible of course, and if it could fit in a little extra storage space then that certainly would be no bad thing.
First order of business: the living room. The family needed a more open, accommodating space to watch TV, relax and spend time together. We extended the room to create more space, and made sure to include a large window to let in plenty of natural light. The result was a pleasant, open-feeling space that the family would enjoy spending time in.
The car space was a larger task. With the original garage out of action, we built a brand new double garage from scratch, providing ample space where the family could park their cars. Of course, a garage is no good if you can’t get to it, so we had to extend the driveway to ensure the garage was accessible. An extra challenge was present in the form of a great oak tree, a venerable specimen with a preservation order around it. We couldn’t disturb the old man (nor would we want to!), so we protected him throughout the build, and constructed the entrance to fit around him.
Success! The customers were happy — a great new living space for the family to enjoy, as well as a spacious double garage where they could keep not only their cars but also a few odds and ends that would make their house feel less cluttered. And all this done without disturbing the historic old oak that gave their property so much character. Mission accomplished — time to move on to the next job.