02: What’s the first things to consider when starting a house/home extension’

The first question I ask a client when discussing their house/home extension is “what are your aspirations?” with this initial question you should be considering things like, what kind of accommodation want? which parts of the existing house don’t work so well, and which do? This will start to form into an initial brief? The brief may be something as simple as you need another bedroom. It will then be for the Architect to use their skills and training to turn your aspirations into reality? A good architect will come up with creative ideas as to how this can be achieved, adding functionality, creativity and beauty whilst also achieving the best return on your investment.

You many also be asking the question “do I need a new extension.” Ok it sounds like I am talking myself out of a project, to put this in context most of my clients are moving away from the more traditional separate kitchen, dining room and reception rooms for an open plan style family room incorporating the kitchen, dining table and seating area. To achieve this clients often feel they need to have an extension that would house this new room, and to create such a sizable space can be very expensive. We take an eco minimalism approach, and yes it does sound pompous, but part of this approach is that we only extend to what you need by ensuring that the existing house is addressed at the same time, particularly the unused space, lofts being turned into offices, basement into cinema rooms or simply making existing spaces usable, we may find a way of remodeling the existing house that means an extension is not required. Most common is to join rooms together often in conjunction with an extension which enable us to reduce the size of the extension allowing more budget for other part of the build such as the kitchen, landscaping or joinery.

This leads onto “what to do with the existing house?” we never want to get into a situation where there is a lovely new light warm extension to an existing house that is cold, damp and dark. When considering a new project, the house in its entirety should be considered, to get the best out of the whole house. This may not be applicable to all projects but nine times out of ten times there are elements of work needed, whether this is just a new lick of paint and new floor finishes or something more substantial like replacing windows, adding insulation and upgrading the electrics and heating. The cost involved with works to the existing building which can be just as expensive as the new extension, is not always realised, and can have a big impact on budget. External wall insulation with a render finish is a good approach to consider when wishing to upgrade the existing thermal performance, it does not impact on the internal floor area, it can modernises an existing tired façade and give the home a new lease of life for the next generation, and is a sustainable approach to working with the existing building.

These initial questions often take up the first half an hour of meeting with a new client but will create a foundation to starting a brief or wish list and once discussed will naturally lead onto decision about cost and timings which is a subject for another blog.

If you would like to discuss your project please give Simon a call or drop him an email. We’d be happy to help with your architectural plans and discuss ways we can work together. Check out our contact page here.