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 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!

 

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.

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.

Case Studies: Chafford Hundred

 

The location:

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…

 

 

The brief:

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.

 

 

The job:

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.

 

 

The result:

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.

 

Job done. Onto the next one…

 

12 Myths About Property Extensions

Thought you knew it all? Think again!

 

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.

 

Case Studies: Laindon

 

The area:

It’s always a treat to visit the parish of Laindon, a truly ancient village that can be traced back to the thirteenth century! These days it’s a peaceful but thriving community, where many happy families have made their homes, and are keen to make them better. That’s where we come in!

 

 

The brief:

Our clients in Laindon quite simply wanted more space! Their house was at capacity, and they needed not only bigger bedrooms for the kids but also a  larger living space where they could spend quality time together once the little ones were tucked up in bed. Having the right amount of space is key to a harmonious family life, and we were only too happy to accommodate in making this family’s dream a reality.

 

 

The job:

No one has ever accused us of doing things by halves, and from the start we could see that this job would require some major overhauling of the house. Indeed, a whole new room! We constructed a rear dormer loft conversion to house the brand new master bedroom for Mum and Dad, a peaceful space for them to relax and get a good night’s rest in peace. Doing this meant that the original master bedroom was freed up, and this is turn was available for one of the kids to move into — privacy gets all the more important as they grow up, as any parent will tell you.

 

Hey, presto! We’d transformed their three-bedroom property into a four-bed, thus bumping up its value on the market. We weren’t done yet though — next on the agenda was a rear extension downstairs, with bi-fold doors that opened fully and gave a lovely sense of space and opened up the living space for the family to enjoy.

 

 

The result:

The family were thrilled with the result of the work — a lovely, big open-plan kitchen and dining area that made for a great family space to spend time in. This also freed up the living room for cosy evenings on the sofa together, both for the kids and the parents.