House Extensions – 12 Tips on Extending your Home

young family standing in their house extensionWell the last article we did was on the top tips for building a new house but today we are going to talk about extending your house rather than buying or moving into a new one. This in itself not only saves money, but also in a lot of cases adds some much needed space to the house.

Extending a house can have a great impact on your lifestyle. Because your home is one of the most important assets in your life, it’s very important to build your extension the right way, as you really have only one chance to do a proper job.

Here are 12 pointers for you to keep in mind while you plan your house extension:

  1. Firstly, if you are planning on extending your home because you are looking to increase it’s value on the property market, then you really need to talk to an estate agent. An informed estate agent will be able to tell you what a potential buyer on the market will be looking for in a house.
  2. if your garden space will be decreased because of the planned extension then you will need to factor this in if you plan on selling down the road. A big house with little or no garden will be a hindrance to some buyers.
  3. An extension is a lot cheaper than moving or building a new house, but the cost of building the extension is greater per square foot. The reason for this is due to it being a smaller and therefore less profitable job for the builder.  There are also a lot more obstacles to get around.
  4. In Ireland, building an extension or indeed making any other significant changes to your house may require that you get planning permission. You must be certain you have the right permission before you start, otherwise it can result in severe fines or even imprisonment. The best way to go about finding this information out initially is to talk with your local authority on the matter.
  5. Hire an architect. This is one step that is absolutely crucial if you want top quality results on your extension. This may be an expensive short term step to take, but a top architect can save you money from long term mistakes and bad workmanship and he/she will also sort out the planning permission side of things for you. Before you choose your architect, make sure you talk to a number of them in advance and not only to compare price but to get as much advice as you can and see who you would get on best with.  If you have a good idea of what you need in advance it will save you money as the architect won’t have to do as many revisions on the plans so sketch out something on paper if you have an idea of what you want.
  6. Have some idea of a budget that you want to spend on the extension. This is to make sure that you don’t face any nasty surprises half way through. Get a number of quotes and never choose a builder just because he’s given you the cheapest quote. More often than not, you will get what you paid for. Always allow for roughly 10% more than you’ve budgeted for as unforeseen expenses always pop up.   Make sure that you know if the prices you got for the job are inclusive or exclusive of VAT.  You don’t want to get any surprise at the end that there is VAT to be added on to the price.
  7. Get references, qualifications and insurance details from each contractor who quotes for the job.  Make sure you have a building contract drawn up between you and the contractor so that there is no confusion on what has to be done.  The building contract should describe everything about the extension including the exact specification of the work to be done, materials to be used, stage payments and timescale etc.
  8. It’s worth bearing in mind that you may also need to rent alternative accommodation while the extension is underway, and this in itself should be factored into your overall budget.  A typical house extension, depending on the size can realistically take anywhere from four to six months from start to finish. In Ireland, nothing rarely gets completed in two months!
  9. Make sure you use the best electrical and plumbing fixtures and fittings that you can afford. This doesn’t mean getting the fanciest fixtures and fittings that you can find but the most reliable.  A good plumber or electrician can advise you on what to choose.  A number of years ago I got caught myself by putting in Victorian style taps into an old cottage to retain it’s character but unfortunately although these taps were twice the price of standard taps they gave terrible trouble and eventually I ended up replacing them with standard taps.
  10. Before you go extending, have a chat with your neighbours about it. Make sure they don’t have any problems with your project. You would be surprised the amount of times neighbours become irritated during a renovation, simply because they weren’t informed about it. This problem can be avoided by a simple chat prior to work commencing.
  11. You may not realise it, but an extension could significantly reduce the amount of natural light entering the house. Try and utilise the light so that this doesn’t play a part. One tip is to use velux windows rather than the standard vertical ones, as they let in more light.
  12. Make sure to have an independent certifier sign off on each stage of the build.  Only pay for each stage as it’s signed off by the certifier.  Consider using an escrow payment facility to manage the payments and to safeguard both you and the contractor.

Extending your house is a one time event in most cases.  So do yourself a favour, and do it properly the first time around. This will save you time, money and make your life less stressful.

I hope this helps some of you who are planning to extend your home in the future and if you decide to go ahead with it you can get a number of house extension prices here and get up to 4 quotes fast from rated tradesmen!

Oliver Dempsey

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About Oliver Dempsey

Owner and Managing Director at and contributor to the Blog DISCLAIMER: All content provided in my articles is for informational purposes only. The information contained in these articles has been obtained from research carried out by myself through online and offline sources and through other writers and contributors who provide me with content. While I am responsible for the final editing of each article and I do my best to verify the information, I do not make representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information. Therefore you must not rely on the information contained in any of these articles and always make sure to seek the advice of a suitably qualified expert before embarking on any project.
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