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Over 30% of Londoners Plan to Expand their homes

If your house is too small, you’re in good company - according to a recent survey over 30 percent of London homeowners are thinking about expanding their house over the next three years.

The studies show that instead of going to the trouble of buying a new place and moving, the idea of improving their current address is more appealing. However those looking to add space to their home may have to act sooner rather than later, because a government amnesty permitting homeowners to extend their properties without having to jump through hoops for planning permission will conclude next spring.

A general election is on the horizon, so there is no way to telling whether the amnesty will be extended.

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said that there has been a consultation on the subject and the responses are now being examined. There will be an announcement in due course.

You can presently add a large rear-extension, convert a loft, or build a conservatory without needing planning permission, although there are certain limits.

People who live in conservation areas or listed buildings still require all application permissions, but anyone else can make changes to their homes under the Permitted Development (PD) system as long as they adhere to specified size limits and follow established style guidelines.

If you use the traditional planning permission route, anyone can comment and interfere with your plans. If enough people protest, your project can be stalled or stopped entirely. PD can act as a protective shield that prevents a homeowners plans being stopped or altered. Those that choose to go the down Permitted Development route,  are still required to apply to the council for what is termed a Certificate of Lawfulness, but it’s not difficult to get.


Specialists in Construction Insurance

Although PD rules state that the building materials you use for the changes must match the rest of the property, they are somewhat flexible. If a house is red brick, for example, and some of the extension walls are glazed, one can argue that the alternate material (i.e. aluminium) surrounding these walls are mere window frames.

Adding floor space is the traditional route to increasing a property’s value. According to a recent study by Savills, a loft conversion can add 10 to 15 percent to its market value. A side return extension can add five to 10 percent. Adding space can be seen as the equivalent to adding value, but it has to be done properly.

Anyone wanting to add to their home should always consult with an architect or their local council before starting work.

Permitted Development rules include a lot of detail, and conditions such as previous extension route or proximity to a neighbour’s property line can affect the work. If an extension is too big (roof heights are restricted to four metres and rear extensions can be no more than six metres on a semi-detached home or eight metres on a detached property) or the materials used are not acceptable, the homeowner may have to tear it down and / or face legal action.


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