As the first summer weekends descend on the UK, homeowners will be contemplating taking advantage of the permitted development rights for home extensions which the Housing Minister recently announced will be made permanent.
While extensions seem like a minor bit of building work, too often such works become a nightmare. But with a bit of advanced planning, you can avoid appearing on an episode of Cowboy Builders.
First, no matter how minor the works may be, it is always recommended to have a contract in place before any works commence, as disputes between homeowners and their construction professionals or builders can easily arise. Some of the key matters to be addressed include:
- exactly what services or works are being provided;
- how much will you have to pay, when are payments due and what exactly is included in the price;
- when are the works to be finished, and what happens if there are delays;
- what type of guarantee or warranty will be provided for the works/services; and
- how will any disagreements be addressed.
If you have a mortgage, your mortgage conditions may stipulate that you have to inform your lender about the works and maybe even obtain the lender’s permission. You may also need your neighbour’s permission where the nature of the works are subject to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, or permission from your landlord or residents’ association.
Importantly, you will also need to ensure that you have adequate insurance cover both for your existing property and the building works. Your existing buildings insurer might be able to help you obtain the requisite insurance, or you may need to speak to a specialist construction insurance broker.
Although the temptation to just let the builder get on with it can be hard to resist, a small amount of upfront admin accompanied by proper agreements can help prevent months of living with a gaping hole in your home. For more information of the full range of matters to be considered when doing any home improvement works see Edwin Coe’s “What to know before you start digging” guide.
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