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Most home extensions will require planning permission and building regulations approval. Your local council is responsible for granting these. Be aware that different councils have different views, so it is a good idea to have an early discussion with the planning department at your local council to see what they will and what they will not allow you to build. You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by doing so.
Planning and Design
It is important to bear in mind the current 'look and feel' of your existing property when deciding on the design of a home extension. It is always best to try to match the style of roof as well as the types of windows and doors with those of your existing property, using similar materials wherever possible to ensure that your new home extension will blend in perfectly with your existing property.
Think about your neighbours
During the planning application process, your neighbours will be able to air any reservations or misgivings they may have about your proposed home extension, so it is always a good idea to ensure that your home extension will blend in with the other properties adjacent to you. Talking to your neighbours during the initial stages of the design process can sometimes save you a lot of time and money later on if they have any objections or concerns. Even if you are entitled to make changes they oppose, it might be better to reach a compromise than make life-long enemies.
Hiring the Services of an Architect
You should visit an architect for advice on what can and can't be achieved within the space you have available for a home extension, once you tell him/her what you want to achieve with your home extension. A good architect will also be able to advise you on planning permission, pointing out any local factors that may impact on the design of your home extension and draw up detailed building plans and specifications. Many architects offer to oversee the building of the extension as project manager, for an additional cost, but beware of this tactic as they are trying to steal the job that rightly belongs to the builder you choose to build your extension for you and can never carry out this function better than the builder you choose to build your home extension for you who knows his workers and also the building regulations. By doing so, you can avoid unnecessary tensions that might arise between your builder and your architect, who is not a builder when all is said and done.
In most cases, planning permission is necessary before any work can commence on your home extension. The planning department at your local council controls the way that neighbourhoods are developed, the way that any available land is utilised, the appearance of home extensions, landscaping, road access and the impact that any new development will have on the environment as well as the neighbourhood.
You will need to apply for planning permission if:
• Your proposed home extension is higher than the highest part of your existing roof
• Your proposed home extension is over 4 metres high and within 2 metres of the boundaries of your property
• The area covered by your proposed home extension will use up more than half free ground available
• The volume of your proposed home extension will be more than 115 cubic metres (length x breadth x height)
• Your home extension will increase the volume of your property by more than 10% (or 50 cubic metres, whichever is greater)
The Planning Process
Your plans will be placed on the Planning Register for public viewing and your neighbours will be notified by your local council. A committee will then make a decision or appoint a senior planning officer to make the decision. This process can take up to 8 weeks, and if you are granted planning permission the planned building works must be completed within 5 years.
If planning permission is declined by your local council, your plans should be modified, taking into account any issues raised by the council, and then resubmitted to the council within 12 months free of charge. Appeals can be lodged so long as they are lodged within 3 months of the council's decision.
A Note of Caution!
People who fail to apply for planning permission before building a home extension can face heavy fines and also be required to demolish any building work.
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