As the crunch bites, it’s time to make the most of the house you’ve got. Here are some dos and don’ts when making more space in your home
Knocking down interior walls
This can be an easy way to create the illusion of more space. You won’t need a warrant to knock down a partition wall, as you are not affecting structural scope of the building. However, think twice before you take a sledgehammer to just any old wall – you could be destroying a supporting wall. Sean Barclay, an architectural technologist from Aberdeen who specialises in house builds warns: “It’s a good idea to get a professional in – a surveyor or an architect, who can tell you what is a supporting wall. If you are knocking through a living room to a dining room they are not usually supporting walls, but a dining room to kitchen can be. But it pays to speak to someone who knows what they are doing.”
Building an extension
There are a lot of house builders looking for work at the moment so it’s a good time to get a competitive quote. It’s still an idea to find a builder on recommendation though, so you can feel safe that they are not cutting corners and doing shoddy work. When you build an extension you will need to obtain planning permission from the local planning office. An architect can do this for you for a fee. “It’s a good idea,” says Sean, “because a good architect will know all the procedures and protocols, and more than likely have an existing relationship with the planning office.” Think about things that might get your plans knocked back. “If your design means you’ll overlook your neighbours it’s likely it’ll be refused,” says Sean. “Likewise your neighbours are allowed to complain if your workmen or delivery vans will block access to their house.”
If you are doing the building work yourself, Sean has one big piece of advice. “Don’t obstruct the airbricks that are on the existing building. If you don’t ventilate and something happens, you get damp say, your insurance company won’t touch you.”
Up or down?
“Going into a basements can be a good way to get an extra room, In America and Canada they thrive on it don’t know why we don’t do it more here,” says Sean. If you do go down into a basement think about what you will use the room for – obviously there will not be much, if any, natural light.
“Most people choose to go into the roof,” says Sean. “You can lose loads of heat that way – if your architect knows his stuff he’ll say you’ll need thick insulation for walls. Going up can be harder than it seems though because often as not you’ll have to change the roof structure. If you have a normal rafter you have a ‘W’ structure in the middle that supports the roof, but if you extend into it you’ll want it squarer. It’s possible but you will need to add structure where there wasn’t any before.”