Important Factors to Consider Before Having an Extension Built

At Down’s Brothers Ltd, Bristol, we know how exciting it is to embark on any kind of building work in your home, but we also know how stressful it can be.

 A lot of people underestimate what’s involved when building an extension or converting property and more often than not think it’s all about finding a reputable builder to complete the project (that can be stressful too)!

We’ve been building extensions, renovating, and converting the homes and retail units of Bristol and the surrounding areas for over 50 years, so fully understand what you need to think about before giving the go ahead.

Read on to find out…

What will your extension be used for?

If you’d like more living space but don’t want the hassle or large expense of moving, having an extension built may be the alternative option you’re looking for. But it’s important to think about what you’d use the extra space for as this will determine the size, style and cost.

You can get ideas by browsing the internet for ideas of different types of extensions or be a little bit nosey and do a few drive-bys of extensions in your area.   

Also consider if your new extension will create the home you want, or if you’d still desire something more. Afterall there’s no point in wasting time, effort, and money on a build if you’re going to end up moving because it doesn’t fulfill your expectations

Set a reasonable budget

Even if you were to have an endless supply of cash it’s wise to have a budget in mind. Do some research on the internet as usually, you can find out how much you can expect to pay per square metre. Or, If you know someone who’s had a similar extension built to what you want, politely ask them how much it cost, so you can get a rough idea.  

You won’t know exactly how much your extension will cost until you start getting quotes from building companies, but it’s always good to have a starting figure in your head, otherwise, you won’t know if the quote is too expensive or too cheap.

We recommend getting at least 4 quotes, so you have a good selection to choose from. And remember you want your builder to use good quality building materials and not cut corners, therefore the cheapest quote doesn’t always mean value for money!

Search around for a reputable builder

It really pays to do your research because choosing an inexperienced builder can spell disaster for your project.  But with so many builders out there, where do you start? You can’t beat word of mouth, so ask around friends and family for recommendations.  If they’ve recently had building work, ask if you can see what it looks like, so you can see the level of craftsmanship and if it’s been finished to a high standard which is what you want.

There are certain signs that will tell you if a builder is reliable or not. One being is that they’ll never hesitate to show you their work and they’ll provide you with customer testimonials. Another sign is that they hold the relevant experience, qualifications, and insurance.

Give builders a wide berth who say they can start the job tomorrow or those that ‘are in your area’ because that’s a sign that they might not be above board. A good reputable builder will be busy but worth waiting for.

Downs Brothers Ltd, Bristol has been extending and renovating the homes of Bristol and the surrounding areas for over 50 years. Get in touch with us today for your free quote.

Understand the time involved

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your extension be. The time it takes to complete your project will depend on the size, type, and specification of the extension that you want. You also need to factor in finding an architect and for them to draw up the plans, and if planning permission and a party wall agreement are needed, then these will both add on time. So, it’s better to get the ball rolling as soon as you’ve decided that you want to go ahead with the work.

We recommend starting any building work in March or April if possible because the hard frosts should have gone by then and the ground will be easier to dig. The bad weather should be less frequent meaning there won’t be so many hold-ups, and if you’re not going to have any heating for a while, it’ll be much more pleasant if it’s warm, rather than freezing cold outside.


Find a good architect to draw up your plans

It’s not a legal requirement to have an architect draw up your plans and you may think that it’s an expense that you can do without but find a good one and they’re worth their weight in gold.  

An architect will sketch out your dream extension and will spot the hidden potential of your home opening up new ideas, that you had probably not thought about. Also, they’re extremely useful if your build needs planning permission because they have a detailed knowledge of this and will help you navigate the ins and outs.

Our skilled team in Bristol includes trained architects, so get in touch with us to discuss your plans.  

Building Regulations V’s Planning Permission

Most homeowners have Permitted Development Rights that remove the need for planning permission. But it’s essential that you check this out before your builder starts the work, otherwise you may find your local council asking you to rip down your recent build and no-one wants that stress!

Planning Permission controls the use of land and buildings to ensure that planned developments won’t have a detrimental impact on the environment or the local neighbourhood.

Building Regulations relate to all aspects of the construction of the building i.e., the foundations, underpinning, damp-proofing, insulation, ventilation, heating, fireproofing, etc., so in short, any extensions and conversions will need building regulations approval.

If you’re unsure if your planned build needs Planning Permission, check with your local council, or speak to your architect and they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction and give you advice. They can also submit the plans on your behalf, although bear in mind that this doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be approved.  If your planning permission is refused, then you can launch an appeal with your local council, but you’ll need to check the time frame for this.  

Are there any obstacles that may stand in your way?

There are a few factors that can delay a build or even halt it completely so it’s important to understand what they are.

Let’s look at a party wall for example. This is a wall that sits as a dividing partition between two properties and is shared by the occupants of each household or business. You need to find out if your planned development comes under the Party Wall Agreement Act and if it does, you’ll have to give Notice to all properties that will be affected.

Our advice is to speak to your neighbours first and show them your plans so you can go through any concerns they may have and put their minds at rest. If they object to the Notice, then the Act sets out the steps to be followed to resolve the dispute.

Think about what type of property you have as some listed buildings cannot be modified in any way, so you need to check with your local authority.

Don't rush into anything 

Our advice is that you can never be too careful, so don’t rush into anything. Think things through before giving the go-ahead and make sure you check the details.  For example, if you’re unsure about the plans that the architect has drawn up speak to them about it. Likewise, speak to your builder if you're unsure about any part of the quote. And don't go ahead with any work until you’ve understood the rules about the need for planning permission. 

The bottom line is to check everything first and make sure that you’re 100% happy before giving the go-ahead.



Don't forget about us!

 If you’re thinking about embarking on some building work and are looking for a team of skilled and experienced builders in Bristol and the surrounding areas,  contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss what you’re looking for and give you a free quote.

At Downs Brothers in Bristol, we provide a vast range of property renovation and conversions, as well as property maintenance, all at competitive prices.

Our experienced team provides the following services:  

  • Property Conversions
  • Property Extensions
  • Property Maintenance
  • Decorating
  • Plastering
  • Plumbing
  • Carpentry
  • Tiling
  • Flooring
  • Electrical services
  • Shop re-fits


Contact us today for your free quote on 07748 647266 or 01275 834382 

Or, if you'd prefer, you can fill out the form in your own time with details of what you're looking for and we'll get back to you shortly with an estimate. 

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