With house prices seemingly always on the up many of us are increasingly choosing to look at extending our homes to accommodate growing families or lifestyle requirements. Extending your home can add new living space, additional bedrooms, an en-suite or a better family bathroom.

The cost however can quickly get out of hand, so it is essential to plan effectively and maintain tight control over the project and spend to ensure it is delivered on time and on budget.

If done right, extending your home can prove a savvy investment, potentially increasing the value of the house beyond your actual spend.

Below are some top tips on planning and managing your home improvement.

  1. Plan effectively!

What do you really want out of your extension? Be sure to list down your essential requirements, whether this is an additional bedroom, a bigger kitchen or additional bathroom.

  1. Establish a budget

You need to be realistic about what you can afford to spend, and cut your cloth to match. It is all too easy to get carried away and for budgets to spiral out of control. You can easily end up spending more than you intended, or end up with an extension that doesn’t deliver what you expected or wanted.

  1. Maintain your focus.

Don’t get waylaid by the exciting possibilities, remember what you are really wanting to achieve and maintain focus on this.

  1. Get professional assistance.

Do you need professional advice from an architect or structural engineer? The Architects Registration Board has a searchable database of 34,000 professionals around the country at arb.org.uk. The Royal Institute of British Architects (which, unlike ARB, is not compulsory for architects) also has a “find an architect” service at architecture.com. You may also want to try istructe.org to find a structural engineer.

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  1. Check your planning permissions.

While the rules and regulations have been relaxed in recent times, and often-small extensions don’t require planning permission, it is essential to ensure that your plans are compliant. Your extension must not exceed 50% of the original land belonging to the house, or extend more than three metres beyond the rear of the original house (or by four metres if it’s a single-storey extension of a detached house). There are also rules about the maximum height and the materials you should check the government’s Planning Portal website before you start your project. If your property is leasehold rather than freehold, your lease may also restrict what you can do with the property.

  1. Choose your Builder wisely.

If not undertaking the construction yourself, getting the right builder for the job is the most important factor. Ask friends and family for recommendations, always ask for and check their references, and always ask several builders to quote in order to compare costs. Don’t be afraid to negotiate if you have a favourite builder, use competitive quotes to get the best price.

  1. Manage the Project

If left to their own devices projects can easily over run in both schedules and budgets. By keeping a close eye on progress, purchasing and fittings, you can ensure, as far as possible, that the extension can be delivered on time, on budget and to specification.

  1. Manage the purchasing

Many builders will want to manage the purchasing of materials, fittings but by taking the time to plan and manage the purchasing yourself, you can ensure that you are getting the best deal and save yourself a few quid in the process.

  1. Never pay upfront

By paying your builder or construction team up front, you have no leverage to ensure that you are happy with the quality and finish of their work. Always retain a percentage of the budget to be paid upon completion and sign off. This way it is their interest to ensure that you are happy with the building works they have delivered. This also helps you spread the cost of the project.