With ever-increasing property prices meaning more and more people are choosing to remain in their current homes for the foreseeable future, and some homeowners are opting to extend their existing houses so as to benefit from additional space without needing to move. Although the expense of building an extension can be large, it is a guaranteed way of adding value to your property, thus benefiting both those hoping to move in the near future and those settling in for the long-term.

Like any major building project, many factors should be carefully weighed up before beginning any kind of work on an extension. From early designs to the necessary planning applications, resources to labour costs, every step of the process, if done wrong or not properly thought through, can majorly disrupt the project.

Design and planning

It is essential to bear in mind the existing 'look and feel' of your home when designing a new extension. You should try to match or complement the most notable features, for instance the roof, with those of the existing building, and source similar materials where you can to create continuity. It is also advisable to ensure that any new doors and windows match with existing fixtures.

The planning process

Once you have submitted your plans to the council, they will be logged on the Planning Register for public viewing, and neighbours will be notified. The council will then appoint either a committee or a senior planning officer to make a decision on the case. This process can take up to eight weeks, and if permission is given, the planned works must be completed within five years.

If permission is not granted, plans can be modified to resolve any problems highlighted by the council, and resubmitted within 12 months with no further charge. Appeals can be lodged within three months of receiving the council's decision. If you fail to apply for and obtain planning permission before building an extension, you can be fined heavily and be legally required to demolish any new buildings.

Further information about planning permission can be acquired from local authorities, or by visiting the Government's Planning Portal website. Many architects will offer to take responsibility for the planning application process and any necessary appeals/amendments, for an extra charge. Alternatively, homeowners can contract a specialist planning consultant.