Home extensions for beginners


There is lots to consider before diving in with a home extension.  From legalities to practical issues, you will need to have certain elements in place, even if you’re using specialist home extension builders for the job.

Considerations before extending your home


Will your home extension require planning permission?

Circumstances where you will need planning permission include:

  • If you are increasing the total volume of your property by 10% or more, or by more than 115 cubic metres
  • If the ground surface area of your extension equates to more than half of the total area of your property
  • If your extension is within 2 metres of your property boundaries and the extension’s height is 4 metres or higher
  • If any part of your extension is higher than the highest point of your existing property
  • If you are dividing off part of your home to make a separate home

If your plans are denied, changes to the plans can be made and re-submitted and you can submit an appeal within 3 months of the original application.  Whatever you do, do not go ahead and build if your planning permission has not been granted as you may be legally required to demolish the extension.

What building regulations do you need to be aware of when extending a house?

Types of home extensions that would need regulatory approval, include:

  • Loft conversions
  • Plumbing installations that involve drainage
  • Installation of heaters
  • New windows
  • New chimneys
  • New doors

If you’re unsure about whether your project has certain building regulations that you need to adhere to, check with us and we’ll be happy to advise you based on your specific project.

Have you looked at site insurance for your home extension?

Most home insurance policies do not cover alterations and renovations, which generally includes construction work.

Site insurance policies (also known as a ‘Contractors All Risks Policy’ tend to cover all possible eventualities when construction work is taking place at your home, including cover if there is a collapse when knocking down a wall or other structure, which your home insurance is highly unlikely to do.

Will your extension’s rooms and ceilings be big enough?

There are minimum height restrictions for areas such as above a staircase, where a minimum head space of 2 metres is required, or 1.9 metres for a loft conversion.

It’s also worth noting that if a room is to be used to sleep in, in order for it to be classed as a bedroom, it must have an opening window.

In terms of minimum room sizes, especially if you are letting out a property, guidance published by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health suggests that minimum room sizes depend on the circumstances of a property.  For example, a kitchen should be larger if it is in a house share, compared to a bedsit.  For more information, see: CIEH Guidance.

For more information about standard and minimum room sizes, feel free to ask us for our advice.

Rules for extending a listed property or a property in a conservation area

Understandably, there are certain considerations and compromises that need to be taken into account when extending a listed property or a property in a conservation area.  Some councils will provide a list of what is and is not deemed appropriate on their websites, otherwise you will need to get in touch to request any specifications for your area.

The first thing that will help speed up the planning permission process is to include an architect.  They will be able to draw up plans to get the ball rolling and will know the process inside and out, which helps to prevent any unnecessary hold-ups from planning departments.

Secondly, work with a builder who has experience of working with listed buildings.  They’ll have a good idea of the changes that you are able to make and are better equipped to deal with any issues that may arise along the way, including ensuring that building materials for your home extension match the rest of your home.

Will your home extension require the removal of any trees?

If you need to remove a tree in order for your home extension to be built, you will need to check that the tree does not have a Tree Preservation Order.  These are put in place by local councils to protect trees against damage or removal.  You may also need to check the deeds to your property for any restrictive covenants regarding removal of trees.

Will your extension annoy your neighbours?

You may be completely within your rights to extend your home in the exact way that you wish, but if your neighbours aren’t happy with you doing this, it can cause significant problems.  During the planning application process, neighbours will be able to object against your home extension plans, so it’s best to speak to them about what you’re planning first to make sure that they don’t see a negative impact on them such as reduced light to their property.  Even if your application goes through without a hitch but your neighbours aren’t happy, it can be better to compromise than to permanently fall out with your neighbours.

Have you budgeted enough for your home extension?

Whether you’re planning to carry out your home extension by yourself, or with the help of custom home extension builders, you’re going to need to budget.  To speak to a specialist in home extensions and home improvement, contact Abell Building Services for expert advice about home extensions.  We can help with anything from budgeting to building regulations.


To speak to us today, call 01509 734550 or email us using our contact form.