A 2022 survey has revealed that UK homeowners’ enthusiasm for renovation has not been dimmed by the rising cost of living. With searches for “house extension costs” increasing by 110%* over the past month, this suggests that homeowners are itching to maximise their living spaces despite being in the thick of a financial crisis.
With this in mind, James Bernard, Director of Plus Rooms – a London-based home extension specialist – offered his top six tips to passionate homeowners on minimising extension costs amid the cost of living crisis.
- Budget wisely and set a realistic goal
Having a clear outline of budget means you can focus your finances on the things that matter the most to you within the build. It’s vital for homeowners on a budget to plan meticulously and stick to it as changes often incur a charge. A well-thought-out plan prevents expensive revisions and enables expectations to be managed. There’s nothing worse than embarking on a major project you fail to finish off, which ultimately disrupts your living conditions!
- Consider cost-effective building materials
Some wallet-friendly materials which don’t sacrifice on style and functionality are reclaimed wood, bamboo rods or cork sheets that add tons of character and personality to your abode. Take advantage of lightweight materials which require less labour to build and will ultimately lower overall cost. For eco-conscious homeowners, materials like bamboo has also been globally recognised for its durability and sustainability!
- Opt for a ‘design and build’ company or project manage yourself!
Choose a company with a ‘design and build’ approach which provides a clear price point from the outset unlike the architect with builder and project manager option (costlier and vague on its overall cost). If you have some knowledge of construction, save on professional fees (15 – 25% of total labour and material costs) by project managing yourself! Despite it being extremely time-consuming, savings will be substantial. Make sure you hire well-referenced tradespeople and never pay for building work up front – agree staged payments in advance to ensure work conducted is in line with what was planned.
- Save on planning fees and build good relationships with neighbours
Trim back on planning fees by designing your extension within the permitted development rights – this will save coughing up around £206. It’s also imperative to maintain cordial communication with your neighbours to avoid bearing a hefty £1,000 for a formal Party Wall agreement or having to involve a professional surveyor. Keep them informed about your extension plans in writing eight weeks before work starts, and the best-case scenario would be them writing back showing they have no objections.
- Stick to off-the-shelf instead of made-to-order
Swapping custom-made for off the shelf products will be a smart move for homeowners on a tight budget. Bespoke fittings and fixtures such as corner windows and floor-to-ceiling glass panels are bound to drive up your budget substantially, compared to standard-sized doors and windows. Go for materials that are readily available and easy to source which tend to be much affordable – make sure you never compromise on the quality as you ultimately want a home to age well and stand the test of time!
- Remember the 3’Rs (Recycle, Reuse, Repair)
Properly reusing and upcycling old furniture is definitely good practice for frugal homeowners – a broken chest of drawers can be given a fresh coat of paint and used as a planter in your garden for example. Save on skip hire costs by recycling any unwanted materials or resell them at scrap yards or on Facebook Marketplace to make some extra cash!
James Bernard, Director of Plus Rooms, said:
“The cost of living crisis has undoubtedly tightened the purse strings of homeowners. Nevertheless, interests remain high on property upgrades with a significant 79% of homeowners choosing to renovate their homes rather than moving, and a mere 2% saying they have shelved their intended build due to financial pressure.
With average UK house prices taking a downward turn, this provides a great opportunity for homeowners to make plans and consider extensions or home improvements that could significantly boost property value. From adding a new kitchen, installing energy-efficient features to sprucing up your home’s exterior with a fresh lick of paint, there are a plethora of ways out there to maximise your house value – no matter your budget!”