Planning Stages for Room Conversions and Extensions
The planning stage
Most DIY and building work in the home is carried out to improve the living conditions in the house rather than increase its value, though if the work is properly planned and executed it should do both. Extra rooms, more space, an upgraded kitchen or bathroom, can all make your existing house seem a little bit more like your dream home to you, but also make it more appealing to future buyers.
This site covers projects which are too big or too complex to do yourself. It will help you plan what you need to do, establish whether you need permission and determine who you will need to help you to do it. If (as often happens with successful building work) you find yourself tempted to sell the house and move up a rung on the property ladder, it will also help you to do it all again.
Deciding what to do
Once you have identified which areas of your home you want to change or need to fix, the next step is to work out the best way to do it. The most commoncan be divided into four main types, and this section gives a broad outline of what each involves, so that you can see whether it might be the solution to your problems. Any of them could fit your requirements individually but you may need to combine elements of several in order to get the result you want.
1. Changing the way you use existing rooms
Every room in your home currently has its own specific function. The house may have been built that way, or may have evolved its present layout as successive owners adapted it to suit their particular lifestyles. However, it need not stay as it is if it does not suit you. You can sometimes alter the function of individual rooms by simply moving the furniture around, although changes involving structural alterations will generally require getting the builders in. You could consider these options.
- Turn the main living room into a large kitchen-diner, leaving the existing dining room and kitchen to act as separate living rooms — one for home entertainment, perhaps, and one as a quiet room for reading or homework.
- Strip out the built-in kitchen units that you do not need so that you can create space in the room for a dining area, thus freeing the existing dining room to be used as an extra bedroom or living room.
- Fit out the box-room as a second bathroom.
If a kitchen or bathroom is being created or relocated, the job may involve rerouting services, but this need not create any insurmountable problems. You may needapproval for the work, however, and you should also check whether is required if you intend to work from home as this may constitute a change of use.
2. Re-arranging existing rooms
Changing the layout of your house is rather more radical than simply changing the use to which you put individual rooms. It may not significantly increase the floor area, but should help you to make better use of the existing space. Again, there are several options you could consider.
- Create fewer and larger rooms by knocking down internal walls. Making a through living-and-dining room is one popular alteration, but you could just as well combine the hall and living room (as long as you have a porch or lobby, so that the front door does not open directly into the converted room). The kitchen and dining room could be turned into a large kitchen-diner. Upstairs, two adjacent bedrooms could be converted into a large master bedroom, with spacious dressing and sitting areas.
- Change the size of adjacent rooms by removing the existing partition wall and then re-erecting it to provide one larger and one smaller room. This could allow you to convert, for example, two existing bedrooms into one large bedroom with an en suite bathroom.
- Create more smaller rooms by installing new partitions within large existing rooms, or by removing one partition between two rooms and erecting new partitions to divide up the resulting floor space into three separate areas instead of two. This latter option can also, of course, be used to create an extra bedroom or a second bathroom.
- Changing the position of door openings in internal walls may help create more useful space by altering traffic routes through the house, and allowing a more effective arrangement of the furniture against the walls. In through-rooms a second door could be blocked off. It may also be worth considering rehanging doors so that they open a different way, or using sliding doors instead of hinged ones in those situations in which the latter take up precious floor space.
- Changing the position of external doors may also be worth considering, especially those giving access to the side or rear of the house. An outside door in a kitchen may well provide a useful route to the garden, washing line or dustbin, but the traffic through the room seriously compromises the way in which the kitchen works. French or patio doors in a living or dining room will restrict the way in which the furniture can be arranged, whereas a window would give greater freedom.
- Moving the staircase may make better use of the space on the floor from which it rises, although this option may prove impossible in some house layouts. A spiral staircase may seem an obvious space-saver, but this rarely offers a significant gain in floor area, and can pose problems of safety and access for children, elderly people and furniture removers.
Rearranging existing space involves some structural work, especially if the walls you want to remove are load-bearing. You must always seek professional advice if your plans affect a load-bearing wall. However, timber-framed partition walls can be removed and erected with relative ease.
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Improving serviceand energy efficiency
Reorganising the existing plumbing arrangements may requireapproval if this involves relocating waste water disposal, while changes affecting must comply with water by-laws.
Improving your home’sand lighting may involve the extension of existing circuits, the provision of new ones, and even complete rewiring if the system is old and cannot stand the extra load. The work needs no official permission (except in Scotland), but should be carried out to Wiring Regulations standards. Bear in mind that the installation of new heating appliances needs approval.
Energy-efficient measures such as incorporating improved thermal insulation, improvingand providing controlled ventilation should be part and parcel of many of your projects, whether you are converting the , fitting double glazing or replacing doors and windows. These features will all have long-term, cost-saving or comfort-improving benefits. New building work will have to meet the thermal insulation requirements of the Building Regulations. The Which Guide to the Energy-Saving Home explains what you need to consider.
Weighing up the pros and cons
With all potential home improvement projects it is worth asking at the outset: is the work really a good idea? Will it increase the value of the property by more than the cost of the work? Or might it actually reduce the appeal of the property? You may want a Californian-style underlit jacuzzi sunk into your patio, but other potential buyers of similar properties might regard it as a ludicrous eyesore which will need to be taken out — so in fact it may simultaneously narrow the band of appeal and reduce the value of the house.
You should also consider the knock-on effects of the work once it is completed. Will it affect the amount of light available, or create extra traffic in certain areas of the house? Will it cover a manhole?
Think about practicalities too. Will your existing fuse box be able to cope with the demand from extra sockets, or will your wiring need to be upgraded?
Soil stacks — the large-diameter waste pipes from a toilet — are difficult to relocate, and generally run down one side of a house. If you are proposing to add a toilet on the other side, having a stack running through the house, may not be practical.
Many schemes are possible, but not all are necessarily advisable. With the help of this site, you should be able to assess the pros and cons of major projects, such as kitchen refurbishment,, installation or a two-storey extension. If you decide to go ahead it will help you ensure that they are completed smoothly, economically and with the minimum of disruption.
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