Before extending your home, do be aware that if you live in a conservation area, your development rights are going to be limited. Each local authority has its own policy for Conservation Areas but generally the basis of the policy is to prevent the loss of character of the Conservation Area. So, if you are thinking about extending your home, always contact your local conservation officer first.
Before embarking on an expensive attic conversion, think carefully about the cost relative to the amount of useful space that can be gained, and the impact on the existing accommodation. If the usable space is limited, consider raising the roof height by rebuilding it, or even lowering the existing ceiling height below. Accessing a habitable loft conversion requires a permanent staircase and this will need landing space.
Permitted development rights do not apply to listed buildings, so any extensions will need both planning and listed building consent. The design of any extensions to a listed building need to be of a very high quality and it will be necessary to use the services of a specialist architect or surveyor.
It will be essential to work closely with the local authority conservation officer if you are extending your home. Each officer will have their own perspective on what will alter the character of a listed building. It is a criminal offense to alter a listed building, inside or out, without listed building consent.
Under the new rules, the rear wall of a detached home can be extended by up to 8m in depth with a single story extension; this is reduced to 6m if you are extending a semi-detached home or terrace. New extensions must be built of materials ‘similar in appearance’ and with the same roof pitch as the main house.
It can be tempting to try and subdivide existing and new space into as many bedrooms as required, particularly if budget or the size of the extension permitted is restricted. However, there are minimum sizes beyond which rooms will not function.
When considering applications for conversions, most local authorities have recommended minimum room sizes which planning applications must conform to. However, the rules about sizes are more applicable to social housing and are usually relaxed for private accommodation, but you should still bear them in mind if you are extending.
An estimate is normally a contractor’s guess as to what your extension will cost. Whether given verbally, or in writing, is not legally binding and the final bill may exceed it. A quotation is a definite price.
Some trees are protected by Tree Preservation Orders. Even if an extension does not require planning permission you cannot alter or even prune a tree that has a TPO on it without planning permission. All trees within a Conservation Area are protected by legislation and effectively have a TPO on them providing they have a trunk of diameter greater than 75mm. Altering a tree that is protected by a TPO is a criminal offence and can result in substantial fines so take care if you are extending your home near to a protected tree.