Chaos Or Construction

4th October 2012

Whether you are planning to expand your living space, build a conservatory or add a loft conversion either to your existing home or to the property you are about to purchase the proposals by the Government to temporarily relax the planning laws may just have caught your attention in the last month.

For the next three years the Government plans to waive any requirement to seek planning permission when extending eight metres from detached properties or six metres from semi-detached and terraced homes.

Loft conversions and extensions of shops and business premises are also to be made easier as part of the package of measures intended to stimulate growth which are backed by government guarantees to support £10bn of new housing.

Opponents of the proposals argue that 80% of planning applications are decided within eight weeks and that relaxation of planning regulations will simply lead to insensitive projects going ahead to the detriment of those living in and around the extended properties.

Setting aside the political views should the changes come into place property owners would be well advised to consider the practical aspects of extending a property:

What benefits will the extension add?

The easy answer is obviously more space but how will this space be integrated with the existing property. A loft conversion sounds fairly painless but you need to consider the access point, will the new staircase be formed within one of the existing bedrooms and if so will this render that room unusable or reduce it size considerably.

With a single or two storey addition to the property, will the new extension affect the flow of the property layout – a larger building that simply doesn’t work in terms of room placement will certainly not be as enjoyable for you to live in and will also be a factor considered by potential buyers come the time you decide to move on.

How will any extension be viewed by your neighbours, we often take for granted a good relationship with those around us but as we read so often now when that relationship is no longer there it can have quite an impact on our enjoyment of our home. Consideration of your neighbours and perhaps even consultation can often reap benefits of retained or improved relations.

The financial benefit is often not fully explored but in these more frugal times perhaps it should be. Whilst the cost of the actual extension will be carefully costed not everyone considers if the extension is actually adding the same return or better still an improved capital value on the property. The best result will be an improved quality of life for the property owner with the knowledge that the extension has also increased the capital value of the dwelling over the costs of the actual works. Many however, especially if they plan to be at the property for the foreseeable future, will forego the financial gains in favour of perceived gains in lifestyle benefits.

How will you fund the proposed works?

With moving costs high and the housing market slow, improving has a strong appeal with an estimate eight million people embarking on such projects every year, but do the financial institutions have the same view?

Lenders are now operating in the new world of finance and with more stringent valuations and also tightened lending criteria and affordability tests and many borrowers may be disappointed to find they might not even qualify for their existing loan if applying today so a further advance on the same terms will be out of the question.

An extension can be just as big a decision as moving home for many and rightly so, our advice would be review carefully any plans you have before committing to any decision. Seek the necessary advice to ensure your plans comply with the current regulations and do your homework to at least ensure that your new extension adds both the lifestyle and financial benefits your desire.

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