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!

 

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!

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.

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.

 

10 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Home

 

 

Is it time you had more space? We list ten ways to tell if your home isn’t suiting your needs any more

 

1. There’s clutter at every turn

Does it seem like every surface of your home is taken up with stuff? Your desk, your dining table, your floors, your bed, all covered with various bits and bobs that you can’t get rid of but don’t seem to have any place for. If this sounds like your home, then it’s a big red flag that you need more space.

 

 

2. You’re constantly tidying up

In a similar vein, there’s always something that needs putting away, isn’t there? Whether it’s that sagging clothes horse, that jumble of shoes or those fancy wine glasses that don’t properly fit in the cupboard, it always seems like there’s something you need to find a space for yet again.

 

 

3. You work from bed / the sofa / the kitchen table

Ideally, if you work from home, you should have a dedicated space to do so. It’s better for your mind, health and wellbeing. If you’re constantly finding yourself working from the same space where you eat dinner, watch telly or — god forbid — sleep, then it may be time to admit to yourself that you need more space.

 

 

4.More kids than bedrooms

This is a classic. Whether you’ve got little ones sharing a bunkbed or boomeranging uni graduates who are looking to crash, if the kids outnumber the rooms they can sleep in then it’s time to have a serious think about your space.

 

 

5. Little personal space

Everyone needs peace and quiet every so often. Are you finding it hard to get yours? Do you find yourself longing for a quiet room where you can read, relax and enjoy a little you-time?n If so, then it’s time to make that room a reality.

 

 

6. You don’t want to entertain

This one can sneak up on you. It’s easy to make excuses to yourself for why you don’t want your friends and family to come round — oh it’s always stressful, we don’t want to cook, it’s nicer when we go out — but is the truth simply that you don’t feel your home is up to the task of entertaining your loved ones?

 

 

7. Glastonbury toilet queues

Morning bathroom arrangements can be fraught at the best of times. If you’re noticing a Glastonbury-style queue regularly forming outside your house’s one toilet, then you might need to think about easing that burden.

 

 

8. Stubbed toes

Ow. Ow, ow, ow. Whether it’s on chairs, the clothes horse, boxes or furniture, always finding yourself stubbing your toes is a surefire sign that you’ve got less space in your home than you need.

 

 

9. “Creative” storage

Laundry in the car. Shoes on the dishwasher. Plates in the airing cupboard. Do these kind of makeshift, improvised storage arrangements sound familiar?

 

 

10. You’re constantly dreaming of improvements

Following more than a few interior design accounts on Instagram? Constantly updating your Pinterest mood board with items from your dream home? Finding yourself saving Ikea furniture on your lunch break? It’s time to face facts — you need more space to make your home into what you always wanted.