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Nine things to consider when renovating or extending a home

Happy Building extension

With the rising interest rates and inflation many homeowners are having second thoughts about moving further up the property ladder and are looking to renovate or extend their current home

- a great alternative to upsizing in this difficult climate.

From loft conversions to new kitchens you have plenty of options when renovating or extending your existing property.

Such work could potentially prove costly and time-consuming and there are several things that homeowners need to be aware of.

According to Hiscox’s ( these are the top nine things to consider before planning to renovate or extend your home

1. Consider how you’d work best from home

Many employers have moved to a permanent hybrid-working model, with staff only asked to attend their workplace for part of the week.

In the UK, 78% of employers now offer hybrid-working arrangements, according to research from professional body the CIPD.

As flexible working becomes the norm, investing in the home to create a suitable environment is becoming increasingly popular.

Garden Room designed and built by Happy Building

There are lots of ways to do it, for example

- garden rooms can provide a quiet working environment. While they can be expensive, they also add to the value of properties: according to Housebuilder and Developer, they could add 5% to the house’s value, while other estimates suggest value added could be around 1.5x the cost of installation

- loft conversions can provide useful office space, free from the distractions of children, pets or day-to-day home life.

- guest bedrooms can easily be converted into dedicated home offices

2. Stay alert to shortages of builders and materials

A shortage of builders has led to an increase in competition for work, pushing up prices. Meanwhile, supply chain issues have pushed up the costs of materials.

According to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB*), virtually all (98%) of its members saw material costs rise in the second quarter of 2022.

*Happy Building is an FMB member.

3. Invest time in finding the right builders

With such a scarcity of builders, some might be tempted to pick tradespeople that are available more quickly. But it may pay to be patient.

By thoroughly researching builders (either through online recommendation platforms or trusted recommendations within the industry), homeowners can save a lot of stress in the long run. Concern over the quality of building work is apparent within the industry. The FMB has previously revealed that 86% of its members want the government to introduce a mandatory licensing regime to push up standards.

So, cost and availability aren’t the only issues to focus on. The FMB has suggested the following ways to check if a builder is reliable:

- testimonials and examples of past work

- clear communications

- track record of punctuality

- flagging potential delays early

- solid knowledge of building regulations

Happy Building Construction: We offer a fully managed construction approach HB Built, taking the project on as the main contractor. First, we put the best construction team together based on your approval of a meticulously detailed budget. Then we directly manage the building programme for you. Taking full ownership of the construction process, the team will support you with the management of not only the construction elements but on your finishes as well.

For projects where budget, timescales or our unique high level of support is not required, we can partner you with vetted Contractors through our HB Connect route. For a small fee, Happy Building will undertake a controlled tender process with our vetted contractors. After meeting with them to explain your project in detail to ensure that all parties are aligned, Happy Building will prepare a formal contract for both you and your chosen tender contractor to sign.

Our commitment is to find construction solutions for all clients wherever possible

Happy Building Construction Team

4. Choose work that will maximise the value of your home

The reasons for major home investments vary widely. They could involve an extension that creates more room, or a renovation that improves existing living space.

But just because the work costs a lot doesn’t mean it will add a similar amount to your property’s value.

For example, a side return extension is popular with many homeowners seeking to create larger communal areas, such as kitchens.

These can cost up to £65,000, according to Checkatrade, and take around four months to complete. At the same time, they will disrupt the living space of a home.

But according to Homebuilding & Renovating, such projects could add around 10% to the value of the property

By comparison, a loft extension typically costs around £40,000, says Checkatrade, and takes between six and 10 weeks. The work is relatively unobtrusive and could potentially add around 20% in value to the property, according to Nationwide.

5. Don’t skip a building survey

Planning on extending your home? You’ll generally need a proper survey to get the ball rolling.

A measured survey can map out your project in advance, ensuring all the measurements and dimensions are carefully recorded.

It feeds into the architectural drawings for the extension. These outline the design of the project, while taking factors like building regulations into account.

Failing to get an accurate survey could lead to mistakes further down the line, or the use of incorrect measurements. And that might ultimately cost you both time and money.

Our designers at Happy Building are highly experienced in taking surveys and will accurately capture your property to the level of detail necessary not only for planning drawings but with the view of construction in mind.

‘Working with Happy building, particularly Geo has been fantastic. They are incredibly open to whatever designs you may have and guide you accordingly. All Plans are agreed after 3 drafts and planning permission was secured in a matter of 12 weeks. Excellent company cannot recommend enough!’

Architectural Design for Loft Conversion in Streatham - Nida

6. Create an extension or renovation timeline

Property extensions and renovations are all about planning. Drawing up a timeline of key dates will ensure everyone is on the same page – from your family to the building firm and any surveyors involved.

Talk to your builder about when certain landmarks are likely to be reached on the project. With an extension, these could include: groundwork or foundation preparations to

building of the roof structure to electrical work and plumbing.

With a detailed timeline in place, you’ll at least know where things are up to.

The Happy Building Client Design Portal is packed with valuable features to help you manage your project in real-time. A single login gives you access to essential documents, files, and daily logs. You can schedule meetings with ease. And also communicate directly with the team using the built-in messaging app.

7. Be prepared to live on a building site

Over the long run, an extension or renovation can help you achieve your dream home – and deliver plenty of additional space. But in the short term? Things may be rather uncomfortable.

Depending on the scale of the project, parts of your home could resemble a building site for weeks or even months.

If it’s a new kitchen, you might have to make do with reduced amenities for a while. On the other hand, an extension could leave your lawn as a muddy waste ground.

Prepare your family for the realities of building work and highlight the long-term gains that will offset any short-term pain.

Remove delicate items from the affected areas and seal off spaces wherever possible.

Finally, think about what you’d do if material problems or extreme weather caused hold-ups.

Could you consider living off-site? Could you stay with relatives or friends for a few weeks?

8. Remember the potential risks

Major property work can often come with considerable risks: work can overrun or the costs could spiral.

Should uncertainty over inflation and supply chain issues continue, it could make materials and labour difficult to plan for.

At the same time, unforeseen problems could arise, such as flooding, accidental damage or even a total collapse.

Other potential problems to consider include:

failing to comply with rules and regulations, such as planning conditions

overspending on elaborate or unnecessary features

creating delays by not ordering enough supplies

going with the cheapest builders rather than the most trustworthy

failing to consider energy-efficient measures, which could deliver savings in the long run

9. Consider protecting your home with insurance

Research by Hiscox shows that the cost of an average property claim in 2021 was £20,000 while building work was ongoing (based on 2021 property claims data).

While not every job will result in a claim, it would be prudent for homeowners planning major work to ensure they have some form of building work cover as part of their home insurance policy.


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