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How to obtain initial advice for a home extension

A homeowner can obtain home extension advise from a wide base these days due to the advise and design guides offered by most local Planning Authorities and the internet. Simply ready this web site shows that you are searching for information on a residential home extension.

Most design guides offered by the councils offer a good starting point.  Within most of their home extension design guides are a series of dos and don't with graphical pictures of good and poor home extension design.

Their advise is pretty much standard and generic from council to council but these are a good starting point for the home under wishing to understand some of the design advise and constraints imposed on you and your eventual home extension designer.

You can always 'get on your bike' and view what other homeowners have erected around the local or wider area.  However, in most cases you will only get to see front or side extensions as many rear extensions will likely be hidden from view unless they have a rear street scene.

Viewing other peoples plans online at your local councils public access web site is another way to source some ideas on home extension designs but this will become laborious as entering each online application file will take several clicks and time for the pdf drawing to download.

Some home extension designers and architects will place sample design works or a gallery of previous projects online for potential new clients viewing but these will be hand picked and only a small sample of their entire work.

In the old days of the planning regime, it was possible to have a friendly site visit and chat with your local planning officer without supplying them with piles of sketch plans and application forms for pre-application advice.  Sadly, those days are well gone.

Therefore the best way to get initial advise is to contact a few local home extension designers or architects to visit site to view the sites conditions and listen to your ideas.  Some will do this out of goodwill and for free but their advise may be very limited or cautioned remembering that ideas and recommendations can be stolen - no one likes to continually give things away for free.

Other home extension design consultants and architects will charge a small fee simply to cover their expenses.  I personally use this method as a filtering process - any potential homeowner reluctant to part with a few pounds up-front to secure some invaluable early design advise simply is not the type of client I want.  These people normally end up with a 'plan drawer' and shoot themselves in the foot aft the end of the job.

Each professional should be able to provide you with some useful advice and recommendations on your scheme.  You are looking for someone who is enthusiastic and proactive that speaks in your language.  Some are very good at verbally describing their vision for your extension, while others are good at hand sketching.  Some will even bring copies of sample work or their laptop.

After each meeting that should not last more than 90 minutes with a coffee & if they are all experienced and professional home extension designers, you should be able to see a common thread for the core elements of the merits or constraints of your site (closeness to boundary, rights of light, trees etc.)

Also, never be put off buy a home extension designer who is not supportive of your initial ideas.  The last thing you want for a home extension designer is a 'yes man'.  Fully independent advise is what you are after and if one home extension designers sees a potential problem that you have missed or did not fully appreciate then you want to be told rather than wasting fees and time on abortive work not supported by the council or too costly to build within your available budget.

Interview at least three and go with your gut instinct as to who will be right for you. 

Prior to engagement make sure you do all the due diligence with questions, references and go visit their office (home or high street - it doesn't matter).  Research their work at the councils web sites.  Ask them for time scales.



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