What should you ask before you choose the contractor to complete your extension?

An extension is an amazing way to transform your living space, your cooking space or even an extra bathroom downstairs.

The main issue however is that it is the first and often only major construction project that a client maybe involved in, in their life. The amount of terminology, technical detail you have thrust upon you as if it were second nature to you. Is and can be daunting and often the reason why many decide against pursuing their project.

Heres how you can make life simpler for yourself;-

Ask the contractors what will the process be like, how long will it take? Will I be able to live here in my home whilst the works are ongoing. Whilst we do not wish to discourage any clients to pick their contractor based on our views but here is a general summation of the project;-

The essential start of your project starts with an architect, or architectural technologist, with fair understanding of your local area, to help you understand whether planning, is required or if you will need permitted development. ( Permitted development means that under your jurisdiction or shall we say ‘ward’ are there any ‘article 4’ directions preventing the national rulings regarding space allowing you to extend your property, subject to the style; i.e Detached, Semi detached, terraced or a garden flat.)


Assuming you have planning settled prior to completing any works the council will require building regulation drawings, normally supplied by your structural engineer. This is different to the planning drawings, as they will generally be more technical and cover the detail regarding how the property is going to manage the change in the structure but also someway in how it will be built.


The builder/ contractor will then plan, estimate and handle the process here on in. He/She will be the main liaison for the BCO (Building control officer.) Whilst it would be good to stay cc’d of the requirements of building control to understand where changes maybe needed. A very common step, or maybe obstacle and is somewhat alarming to clients, is with regard to the ground works. Unfortunately much of the UK is built on clay, and whilst great for sculpting and ceramics, it is a poor foundation to build upon. The standard you will generally find for your foundation is a 600mm wide trench, with 1 metre down in depth. It is not uncommon, for building control to ask prior to sign off that more be dug, prior to the concrete pour.
Following your pour is then time for what some call the messiest part of the project, brick work, the game of mixing and laying. It is an art form to some, however brick layers are by their very nature, target driven and their sole aim is ensure as accurate and efficient lay as possible, which makes difficulty for attempting to negotiate a day rate.

We will leave it to these four points for now but we hope this has helped you understand some of the process and you feel more confident in jousting, we mean negotiating with your contractor.

Now with regard to key points that will make your life easier if you do decide, I want to live in the property while there are construction works ongoing.

Consider the access of materials, a small extension of 10 metre square can have in excess of a tonne bag of sand, 300kg of cement, 3 cubic metres of concrete, let alone all the timbers for your new roof, OSB sheets and the plant, tools and machinery. These all need to make it from the front of the property to the back.

Many properties have their kitchen extended, which means no kitchen for 6-12 weeks, that is a long time for takeaways and often can add both physical stress but financial. Also lets not forget the all important boiler, if the boiler is being moved, often the new location will not be available till much further on in the project when your kitchen is being put together. Quickly you can see why so many choose to move than extend however with the current cost of living I am predicting the number of extensions to rise as the gap to the next size property increases.


Lastly here is small item which you may find useful;-


A dustcover is useful whether it is a large extension or small bathroom you are renovating! It will keep the dust secluded to one area, and also provide a break from all the construction work!

If you enjoyed this blog post please do get in touch as we love feedback and will be hoping to regularly write about the world of residential construction as it is always varied and a topic we are very passionate about.