Building Advice

Getting Started, the basics…

“Getting the Builders In” conjures up  some awful images for many people:  Noisy, dusty, messy, feeling invaded, overrun, or even out of control!…..

It really doesn’t have to be that way:  we are NOT all the same!


1. Plan Ahead

OK, you’ve had this idea in your head for a while now, now you want to get things off the ground.  In the first instance, get some plans drawn up.  There are many architects out there, so talk to people who have had work done – we cannot stress enough that a good reputation and recommendation is the best way to choose your architect, and your builder. If you get stuck, we can recommend people for you.

The architect will have the plans drawn and submitted to the local authority. They will examine the plans to verify that they are in order. This can take up to 8 weeks. During this time, it is a good idea to begin getting estimates for the work.

For more information about planning and building regulations, check out your local council’s website where you should be able to download the necessary information and planning application forms. See our links page for more information.


2. Getting Costings

Always bear in mind that drawings submitted to planning are bare of detail; it is the drawings that go in for building regulation approval, with all the details that the inspector needs to check, that a builder can use to price your work.

If you want a VERY general estimate while planning is going through, you could measure the footprint of the building, in metres squared and simply multiply that figure by £1500 per floor.  


Example:  Rear 2 storey extension, 4m x 2.5m = 10m2 x 2 storeys = 20m2 x 1600 = £32,000 net


Remember, this is a basic build cost and can only be used as a guideline only; that wonderful underfloor heating you’ve had your eye on, or those gorgeous colour-coded aluminium folding doors will not be included in this estimate!!!


Also, VAT is also not included at this stage as there are varying levels of VAT depending on work involved:

  1. VAT can be zero-rated, or 0%, for new builds and certain adaptions for disabled people and any equipment specifically designed for the use of disabled people.
  2. VAT for renovating non domestic buildings in to habitable dwellings can be set at 5%.
  3. For most other construction projects the VAT rate is set at 20%


Sorry, but that’s the rules and I’m not going to argue with those who make them!


3. Finance

Now you know roughly how much it’s going to cost and you’ve decided you can afford it, it’s time to speak to your mortgage adviser. Your home is a good investment, adding an extension will increase the value of your home beyond the outlay for the work done, as long as you don’t over do it and you become over priced for the area:  A five-bedroom house in a two-bedroom street may not be that easy to sell later on!


4. Choosing your builder

As we have said before, recommendation is everything:  You can check his work, his attitude, how clean/messy he was, 
how reliable etc, etc.

Some people often make the mistake of choosing the cheapest price submitted.  You may get lucky and end up with a good result. 
But as with many things, you pay for what you get and we believe there are only two kinds of job:  A good job and a cheap job.
Beware of people who request money up-front; a good builder will be able to fund any work up to the point of the first agreed stage payment, usually paid in the order;

  • Foundations and up to DPC;
  • First floor joists;
  • Wall plate level;
  • Roofed in or watertight;
  • Plastered out;
  • Completion


5. Starting the work 

Once you have chosen a builder, they can start work as soon as planning permission is granted. Ask for regular updates about how the work is progressing, and feel free to ask any questions.

Pay for the work by cheque or bank transfer, if possible. Always get a receipt or invoice for payments, and keep this in a safe place.
And finally, remember that care when choosing a builder will result in a job well done, and ensures utmost satisfaction with your home improvements.


6. During the Build 

Talk to your builder, discuss schedules, what you need them to do, what they require of you.  Variations nearly always raise their heads during a build; sometimes it is a genuine unforeseen problem, usually at the below ground stage where no one can predict what will turn up.  When they do occur, make sure it is discussed fully and a costing agreed and signed for by both parties. A copy of this variation form should be kept by both client and builder.

A Builders Diary

One of our clients produced a useful diary detailing the various stages of his new extension project, and we thought you might find it useful to see what you could expect when you have building work take place on your property.

Click here to download Building Diary as PDF file Click here download Acrobat Reader Free