According to Homebuilding.co.uk, for every person who self builds there are 15 that add extensions to their homes. The reasons for all this are easy to see. It often makes more economic sense and is a better use of space. It means we can stay in the same neighbourhood if we like it and that the children can remain at the same school.

An overwhelming advantage of extending and not moving is the issue of stamp duty. By the time you have calculated the agents fees for selling your house and the stamp duty on the one you are thinking of buying, you might well find you could build yourself quite a decent extension for the same price.

But in order to really enjoy the cost savings and benefits of extending your home, it’s essential that you do your research and get it as right as possible. That’s why I would like to share some tips from experts to help you avoid some common pitfalls.

Firstly, engage a good architect.  This is the first step in any home extension or renovation project.  Find yourself a good local person, who is familiar with the council rules and regulations, and somebody who can recommend a panel of good builders too.  All good architects will work with several different builders, and if they are involved with project management, they will also know the standard and quality of the builders.

Secondly, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Many people, especially in our South Asian community, don’t want to part with their money, and want to pay the minimum, often with the consequence of getting the cheapest architect and the cheapest builder. The result will be a poorly designed and built extension, which will add minimum value to their house.  Spending a little bit more can achieve a considerable uplift in the actual value of the house itself, so think carefully and don’t avoid cutting corners!

Most of us forget that our home is the single most expensive possession we own, and it’s value in the long term is likely to rise.  However, a little extra money spent earlier on in the design, will have an overwhelming payback in the long term, say architects.

Architects fee can vary from a fixed fee, to percentage of contract sum, and also depending upon the size of the project. But more than anything it will depend on the designer’s experience and qualification.  The unqualified person working from home will be more cost effective, but they may not have the necessary experience and knowledge required to fulfil your project.

Experts also say that employing the cheapest builder is by far the biggest mistake they see.  It is so easy to see contractor’s prices and go for the cheapest, this is human nature, who doesn’t want to save several thousand pounds? But then as they say, you get what you pay for!

It is important to remember that builders are pricing for materials and labour, as well as their profit.  Material costs are comparatively the same wherever you buy them from, but the labour cost of an experienced bricklayer/electrician/plumber etc. will be considerably higher than an inexperienced person.

Experts say that they regularly hear stories from new clients about their builder letting them down half way through a project, and disappearing with thousands of pounds, leaving behind a bomb site. Make sure that’s not you!