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Property Developing - How To Select A Property to Extend or Develop
By Martin Meaks
Many people purchasing a property for their main home actually look for a
property with a view to extending it. This is a very common theme that I
have come across time and time again. Their motivation for doing this is
usually two fold.
1. - They cant afford what they actually require so they intend to extend
on the assumption that it will be cheaper for them in the end.
2. They want the location but are unable to find the right property so
remodelling & extending a smaller one will create their near perfect
The rights and wrongs of these two motivations are another news letter in
themselves but we shall save this for another day.
However, by the time they call in the Building Designer or Planning Consultant
a lot of their aspirations are dashed due to either selecting either the
wrong property or wrong location.
Here we explain 10 of the most common tips to observe when looking for property
to extend and hopefully you will avoid a costly mistake. Many of these planning
tips have already been discussed in previous news letters and are covered
in depth in our Maximum Build Planning Guide.
1. CHECK OUT THE SITE ZONING.
No matter how much potential a site has its absolutely no good if its in
Green Belt for example and already been extended. As a guide, 50% is the
maximum additional development area you can have for extending in Green Belt
& that's measured from when the property was first erected. AONB and
Conservation Areas can also restrict development but the Council is usually
more concerned with enhancing and preserving the local character rather than
2. ASSESS THE SITES LEVELS.
Sloping sites can be both advantageous and detrimental to development. If
the only location to ideally extend is on the lower side of the property
then this can be assessed as being too overbearing by the amount of bulk
necessary underneath for continuous floor levels for example.
3. ASSESS THE SITING OF THE NEIGHBOURING PROPERTIES.
Sometimes the siting or orientation of a neighbouring property can influence
the size & siting of your own house extension. If your extension makes
the adjoining neighbours property appear worse on a site or the extension
is away from the main built up mass of the adjoining properties then there
can be an argument for the extended dwelling to have an adverse overbearing
influence upon the neighbour.
4. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF ANY ADJOINING NEIGHBOURS WINDOWS.
SIde windows to principal rooms often have a right of light and any extension
that could affect this light. This can be a very complicated issue. Many
Councils have created design guides on this issue. EVen front and rear facing
neighbours windows can influence the size & design of your extension.
It is important to know what windows will be affected and if they will impact
upon your own design aspirations for the property.
5. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF PRINCIPAL TREES AND SITE SCREENING.
Existing trees & screening hedges play an important part of the local
character & are generally preserved by the Planners if they can. If your
development scheme to extend a property involves removing or potentially
affecting the life of an important tree or hedgerow then this can affect
the outcome of the Planning Decision Notice.
6. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF MAIN SEWERS.
Things have relaxed a little more regarding main sewers but this does often
mean paying another fee to the Local Water Board and potentially very costly
diversion or deep foundation works that could make your development scheme
unviable. A combination of site inspections and checking the sewer maps at
the Council or Local Water Board will normally suffice.
7. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF THE COUNCILS DESIGN GUIDES.
Many people expect to be able to build right up the the boundary line for
a two storey side extension for example. Most Councils will not endorse this
approach except for exceptional site specific circumstances. Adhering to
the principal of the Councils design guides will help a smooth passage of
you scheme through the Planning permission process but you need to ensure
that these guides are applicable and can actually fit to your particular
property. Often they are unworkable for a a property on a very small plot
8. DOES THE HOUSE ACTUALLY LEND ITSELF TO AN EXTENSION.
Believe it or not just because a property has the potential to be extended,
not all extensions will improve the visual appearance or enhance the character
of a property. Some extensions can actually detract from a properties appeal
and value. Look around the street for other example that may give you clues
as to what works and what doesn't. Some properties are actually just right
as they are and should not be tinkered with externally.
9. HOW OLD IS THE PROPERTY.
Most newer dwellings especially those built on estates over the last 15 years
have already been engineered for maximum development onto the site and have
very little scope for further alterations or extensions that will provide
more space that will be acceptable to the Planning Dept. It is usually the
older 'ribbon' type of dwelling that offers most scope for residential
development that are usually on wider and larger plots.
10. CALL IN A BUILDING DESIGNER OR PLANNING CONSULTANT BEFORE YOU PURCHASE.
Having a second opinion by an experienced professional who will give an 'in
principal' opinion on what can be achieved for the property is a real life
saver. All too often clients call us in far too late and being the bearer
of bad news is never pleasant. We charge a small one off fee for this service
where others will come and view for free. Within a short look over the property
we can often advise you what can be achieved for the property and very often
come up with ideas and observations that you may have never considered as
being an option or a good contingency option.
Our 'Maximum Build Planning Guide' explains further the design and planning
issues on residential development and how to extend a house.
Our 'Maximum Build Planning Guide' explains further the issues involved
when extending or developing a property in the UK for planning permission.
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