Unlock your home’s hidden potential by extending

It’s amazing how many homes don’t work for the families who live in them!

For many, their property was built for a different era or very particular lifestyle. People’s needs change over time – since moving in, maybe you’ve added some kids to the family, or found yourself in an empty nest?

Your property doesn’t need to be redundant if it doesn’t meet your current needs. Think outside the box and consider its hidden potential!

Rear garden extension
Rear garden extension by McCann Moore Architects.

Avoid the cost of moving

Why move and pay stamp duty, legal fees, estate agents fees and removal costs?
With a bit of creative thinking, you can invest your hard-earned money in making your current house the HOME you dream of.

Renovating or extending a property is a great way to add space and value – if it’s done well.

So, how do you ensure the money you spend gets the right results?

Top 10 tips for upscaling your home

1. Do you really need to extend?
If you need more space, hunt for it and see where the possibilities are. Can you change a room’s use, modify the layout or knock through a wall? Knocking through can increase kitchen size by integrating kitchen/dining areas, or reconfigure a bathroom to make it bigger and more efficient. You’ll be amazed how clever space rearrangement can transform the way you use your home.

2. Identify what already works (and what doesn’t)
Make a list of all the things that don’t work. Maybe you don’t like your open plan living room, the family bathroom is just too small, or the kitchen only has room for one person at a time?

Maybe the rear garden is perfect for a patio, but you have no direct access to it from the house? Be honest with yourself – all properties have good and bad points.

3. Set a realistic budget
Don’t over-invest in transient things which might date, or over-renovate a property so that it looks out of place or won’t work for anyone else. Crucially, do what your budget can stretch to – and stick to it!

The old saying “do it once, do it right” rings true here, so don’t compromise on quality.

4. What’s your lifestyle?
Open-plan living continues to grip the nation, as homeowners with sledgehammers and hard hats break down boundaries and walls. Open-plan can offer flexible living, but it’s not ideal for everyone. Be aware of the compromises before you start. You sacrifice some privacy, and open plan areas can echo more. Go with what suits your lifestyle and be brave!

5. Stick to your priority list
It’s critical to get the design right at the outset, as you can’t change this easily later on. Interior finishes, on the other hand, can change when you like!

Structure and dimensions of space, natural lighting, plumbing and electrical services must all come out of the budget first. If that means you must lay a cheap laminate floor or worktop, then do it! You can easily replace it when you’ve saved enough to lay the solid oak or granite you want.

If you spend your money on an elegant oak floor before replacing the windows, you could potentially compromise your home’s quality and comfort (think of heat loss, draughts and general appearance).

6. Upsize as much as possible
If you’re going to extend, make it as big as you can possibly afford, without compromising quality, garden size or annoying your neighbours. As architects, we’ve yet to meet anyone who regrets building their extension ‘too big’!

7. Make it connect well inside
How does your extension connect to other rooms? The last thing you want is to make other rooms redundant, or banish their natural light. If you’re going to add new space, make sure it has a function and fits with the rest of the house.

Open plan kitchen
Open plan kitchen extension by McCann Moore Architects.

8. Connect it with outdoors
By blurring the boundaries between inside and out, you’ll create the perfect space for outdoor entertaining and enhance light and space. Expand your living and dining rooms beyond your walls. Simply throw open doors, slide or fold glazed walls to lead to terraces, decks and patios. Just changing the rear-facing wall of your extension to include more glass can help bring the garden into the home (and vice versa).

Living dining room
Living area opening to outdoor patio by McCann Moore Architects.

9. Think about furniture layout early on
If you leave this to last you could be in for a shock, if you find there’s no way to open your patio doors because the sofa needs to sit across them. Consider the simple things like positioning your TV away from glare, leaving space for bins or plugging in the kettle in your new kitchen. More time spent at the design stage means fewer headaches at the end!

10. Make decisions early
Be decisive – agree as many details up front as you can about windows, heating, sockets, staircase and so on. Use your free time before the project starts to work out all the finer details. If you start making changes during the project, such as moving the sink or adding sockets, your build costs will rise, as new pipes and wiring may need to be tracked. Making decisions early saves you money down the line!

For more homes and interiors inspiration, check out Roomy Home on Pinterest.

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