Planning a kitchen extension? The dos and don’ts of renovating

Drawing up plans for a kitchen extension

I get it – building a kitchen extension is daunting. But it’s also one of the most popular types of home improvement and one that I think can be the most transformative – not only on a property but on your life at home as well. We’re all aware now that space comes at a premium, so don’t underestimate the positive effect building an extension can have.

If you’re thinking of adding to your home’s footprint, you may need planning permission as well as professional help in the form of an architect, designer or builder, or you might be able to build under permitted development (PD) which doesn’t need full planning consent.

In brief: permitted development

There’s lots to consider when assessing if your project falls within PD, so it’s always worth checking in with your local authority to be sure. Things like if you live in a conservation area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in a listed building or if the property has already been remodelled outside of the original boundary, may affect what’s allowed.

If your kitchen extension works fall under PD, that means you usually can add a 6m extension to a semi-detached (or 8m to a detached) property. However, as always, clarify with your council – and remember, you’ll still need to meet building regulations. Employing a planning consultant is advisable, as they are on top of the ever-changing policies and can help with more complex applications, for example if you live in a conservation area – not to mention rules are different in Wales and Scotland.

But before you set out on your own renovation project or kitchen extension, here is my go-to list of the dos and don’ts…

See what other buildings around you have had done to get an idea of what you could achieve, and check with your local authority about any special conditions you may have to meet.

DO: Book a free 30-minute appointment with your planning office. Take as much information as you can to get valuable advice. 
Consider how the kitchen extension layout is going to work. Bigger isn’t always better. You can have too much space, plus the location of windows or doors can impact the interior. Also look at the natural light. It’s very popular to have lots of glass, but making your house longer means its centre is further away from light sources – roof lanterns or side windows can help with this.

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Get to know your neighbours. They will be invited to comment on any planning applications. Talk them through what you want to do and get them on your side, as any objections could cause delays or even dictate what you can achieve.

DO: Check your systems. Adding rooms will increase demand for water, so you may need to upgrade it. Think about where plumbing and extraction are going to run to ensure you don’t end up with an eyesore on your lovely new extension.

DO: Hire a project manager. They could save you money, as they ensure the project gets completed on time and in budget. Consider what else could be worth getting done in advance. A structural engineer, ground reports, and asbestos and drainage surveys can all prevent unforeseen costs.

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Rush. Take time to ensure you are happy with the plans before you submit them. Planning permission often takes around eight weeks, but it can take up to 12. You can make minor alterations once it’s been granted, but larger ones will need resubmission.

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Start any work until you have the relevant permissions. Your local authority can have your work altered or demolished if you fail to get consent. Altering a listed building without prior permission is a criminal offence and can lead to prosecution.

DON’T: Live in the house, if possible. This can actually slow down progress, as the builders try to work around your life and spend more time cleaning than building, which can raise the cost.

DON’T: Draw up plans without knowing the space. Live in the property first to see it at every stage of the day and really get a feel for it. Think you need to stick to the same materials and window styles. I find the most inspirational projects offer contrasts.

Forget about site insurance. You need it to cover the existing structure and the building works until you complete the project. Always notify your existing insurance provider of your plans.

DON’T: Wait too long to start the work. Planning permission automatically expires after a certain period, usually three years from when full consent was granted – and don’t keep making changes, as this can drastically drive up cost and time.

Be afraid. Extending is usually more cost-effective than moving and a great way to create a space unique to your family.

Yes, it may seem daunting at first, but trust me, follow my tips, embrace the project and enjoy the process of creating an amazing kitchen extension – it will be more than worth it in the end, promise.

Featured image: Work with professionals to get your project going and to keep it on track. Remember to always seek at least three quotes for each trade you plan to hire and ask to see their previous work for peace of mind.
Hayley Robson is the creative director at Day True.

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