Extending your home


Although many people use retirement as a reason to downsize, for others the challenge is rather different: with more time on their hands, there's a great opportunity to have family and friends round all the time. But if space is at a premium, improving and extending your home can be beneficial in so many different ways. 


Why would I want to extend my home?

Depending on where you are in the country and the suitability of your property, there are a couple of reasons why extending your home would be a good idea:

  • If you have children or grandchildren coming to stay regularly, then more space to accommodate them may be ideal.
  • If you’re looking to generate an income, then extra bedroom space (perhaps in a loft conversion) may be useful.
  • If you’re thinking about your estate and its value in the future, then you may benefit from focusing on improvements that expand your home’s footprint.

What do I need to think about?

The first thing is suitability. But much depends on what you want to build.

  • A loft conversion
  • An additional bathroom, downstairs for ease of access
  • A second floor (bedroom) extension
  • A workshop
  • A garage
  • A garage to bedroom conversion
  • A conservatory (sun room)
  • A bigger kitchen and dining area

Whatever it is you’d like to work on, if you try to extend a home that’s not suitable (perhaps putting up a conservatory in a small garden), then you may actually reduce the value of your property. Local estate agents will usually be happy to visit your property and let you know what’s been working well as ‘an attractive feature’ on homes in your area.

The second thing is permission. Without the relevant consent – which you can check via the government’s planning portal – it doesn’t matter what you want to do, you’re prohibited from starting the work.

The third thing is funding. You may find the local authority has grants available to help improve your home; not every area offers them, but it’s worth checking out. Of course, if you don’t have access to outside funding, then you’ll need to think carefully about extending yourself – either using capital or investing borrowed money into the project. No matter how you fund the project, do plan carefully and make sure you include a percentage for ‘contingencies’.

So where do I start?

Do take a pragmatic view as to whether or not you’re a competent DIY enthusiast. If you’re not, or the project is a major one, don’t be afraid to ask local contractors for their opinions on what you’d like to achieve. Most professional builders and tradesmen will welcome the opportunity to talk through a project in detail: it gives them an opportunity to quote for the work and, if they get the job, it helps them understand your motivations and what you’d like to achieve from the outset.