When looking for additional living space in a home, most people think of extending out into the garden or up into the loft, however few think of extending downwards. Many homeowners could be missing a trick. While on the rise recently, basement conversions are few in comparison to loft or garden extensions. This is in part because not all homes have the potential to convert an existing basement into a habitable space or would need a complex excavation job to create a usable underground room. However, sometimes, it is probably the best solution – one that is often overlooked. Reducing your outdoor space, if available at all, could negatively impact your home’s value if not planned with care and a loft extension is not always possible.

Converting your basement into a living area, will keep this new space close to other main areas of the home, such as kitchens and lounges. This gives you greater flexibility in terms of use in comparison to a loft conversion where new living areas can feel isolated from the rest of the home. Keep in mind that the positioning of the stairs leading to this new space is of great importance as it should feel like an effortless connection to the floor above and allow as much natural light in as possible. If you already have a basement, the work for a basement conversion will have little impact on your façade though you have to keep in mind access for the workforce and machinery when planning.

Many people think negatively of basement conversions as when done improperly, they can be dark and damp. However there are many ways to avoid this. To make sure that you have plenty of natural light, you can incorporate a lightwell or a walk-on rooflight as an effective source for daylight above. You can also consider through-wall sun tunnels, which transfer sunlight from outside the home via a reflective tube and diffuser fitted to the inside wall.

Inevitably, a basement conversion will add some serious value to your home. When properly executed a basement conversion can add up to 20% to your home’s price tag. Though if you are carrying out a basement extension as means to increasing your property value for re-sale, it is always wise to check with a local estate agent for a clearer estimation of what the changes will be worth once finished. Keep in mind that immediate costs involved in any basement conversion can quickly add up, especially for excavations which involve raising ceilings and underpinning. But do not let this deter you, as the final result will most probably be worth it both financially and in terms of your lifestyle.

Other costs to keep in mind are architectural fees, drawings, and planning permission and regulation costs. However, these are costs that are involved in any renovation project. Make sure that you or your contractor has spoken to the local authorities to ensure that you have the right permits to carry out this type of work on your property.

There is one specific cost unique to a basement conversion and it is that of tanking. Tanking is the process of waterproofing a basement to prevent dam and structural damage. If your property is terraced or semi-detached and alterations are close to a shared wall, you will need a Party Wall Agreement. It is important that you share plans with the relevant neighbours prior to commencing work as this will increase your chances of them consenting to works. If for any reason they object your plans, you might have to pay for surveyor fees, which can be costly.

A basement extension is a big project so be prepared for it. Excavation work can take up to a few months and if you are creating a basement from scratch chances are you will have to move out while work is being carried out.

When planning a basement conversion, you will also have to consider how it will affect existing services. For example, can your boiler cope with additional heaters? If not you will have to think about replacing it. If your extension includes a bathroom, you need to keep in mind that plumbing and sewage need addressing.

If your home already has a basement with strong foundations and enough headroom, your conversion time and cost will be lessened. Larger scale excavation jobs are a lot more complex with a lot more costs involved. However, with that can come greater freedom for design. If you are planning to extend your home into the basement, give us a call at 020 71186155 or come and visit us at our office in Hammersmith. We are always happy to have a chat on how we can help you make the most of your home.

Renovation projects are complicated and full of responsibilities. It may be easier to hire a professional project manager to help you, however sometimes, be it because of financial constraints or simply because you want to be hands-on, you may choose to do it yourself. Here are some tips on how you can project manage a renovation project on your own successfully.

So you may wonder, what Is the Project Manager’s Role? A Project Manager will take drawings, chosen fixtures and finishes and deliver a completed project on time and on budget. Their role involves budgeting as well as time and resource management.

A Project Manager will take responsibility over the build and will oversee contractors and/or subcontractors, liaise with local authorities such as planners, building control, health and safety and utility companies. Their fees range between 3 and 15 percent of the contract value. If your project manager is also taking on the role of contractor and organising construction work, fees will be higher.For larger projects they may also function as a contract administrator or be responsible for appointing one. They will coordinate the design team and any other professional consultant involved in the project. (e.g. Structural engineers, tree consultants, ecologists, historic building specialist, etc).

Not all projects require a Project Manager. Smaller projects may only require a main contractor with enough experience to handle some of the requirements of the job while assisted by an architect or designer in the background. Whichever function is not fulfilled by the contractor or architect is usually undertaken by the client.

For larger or more complex improvements, the project manager role and contract administrator is often handled by the lead architect, probably in conjunction with a quantity surveyor to provide interim valuations for completed work.

This might suit you if you have limited time or knowledge. Project management services are also offered by other professionals, including chartered building surveyors and quantity surveyors, members of the Chartered Institute of Building,  Architectural Technologists, and even some interior designers.

Some project managers also provide construction services, overseeing the organisation of the work in place of a main contractor. If so, they are also responsible for establishing the build schedule, managing the budget and cash flow, finding and managing subcontractors and material suppliers, as well as plant and tools.

Acting as your own project manager on an extension or renovation can save on professional fees for contract administration. Some home improvers decide to take on this challenge working in conjunction with a main contractor. Some also take on the role of contractor, hiring subcontractors and tradespeople directly.

Managing a large home-improvement project such as this is a big commitment but, provided that are able to execute the role effectively, you can be saving as much as 10 or 15 per cent. You must be aware that most self-managed renovation projects take longer to complete and while you might save some money on the Project Manager’s professional fees, a longer delivery schedule, usually translates to higher costs.

If you decide to take on the role, here is what you can expect.

On a day-to-day basis the job will include scheduling the work and making sure your subcontractors know in advance exactly when they are required and turn up, do so on time, knowing exactly what they will be doing and have everything they need to carry it out. Don’t forget that whilst a large portion of the job can be done over the weekends or in the evening, things such as site meetings and ordering an sourcing of building materials will have to be done during regular working hours so make sure you plan for this, especially if you are in full-time employment.

You will need to find reliable subcontractors to carry out your job. Once you do, you are on your way, as they will have worked with many others whose work they know and respect. This can prove a useful source of contacts as a good tradesperson is unlikely to recommend someone unreliable or incompetent – especially if they are going to be working with them or after them. Networking within the trade is very important and works both ways: if you’re a good employer and are fair and pay on time, word will get around, just as it will if you are not.

When hiring consider if the subcontractor has the relevant experience, is available, has good references, and is on the same page as you in terms of payments and delivery dates. Make sure you device a payment schedule that will work for everyone. Some trades, such as electricians and plumbers, have to be members of a trade body or certification scheme, as they are the statutory regulators of industry safety standards.

Most renovation work attracts VAT at the standard rate of 20 per cent; however, if a subcontractor is not VAT-registered, they must not charge it on their labour. Using individual tradespeople whose turnover means they do not have to register for VAT can mean a significant saving on labour costs. If your project is eligible for any concessions, such as the reduced rate for dwellings empty for two years or more, you will only benefit if you use VAT-registered subcontractors however. Make sure that the subcontractor is aware that the work is eligible for a concession and that the appropriate rate is charged.

If you decide to self-manage a project, here is a checklist of things to look into to get you started:

  • Discharge any planning conditions
  • Arrange any Party Wall settlements with neighbours
  • Notify building control
  • Arrange utility disconnections/connections
  • Plan the layout of storage on site
  • Get the relevant insurance for the project
  • Make the property secure with fencing if required
  • Arrange welfare facilities, a rest area and WC
  • Plan for compliance with health and safety
  • Check access for deliveries
  • Notify all subcontractors
  • Check lead-in times for materials orders
  • Check title deeds and lease
  • Check all boundaries
  • Arrange skips and scaffolding, plus any permits required for street closure
  • Check for tree preservation orders
  • Arrange a building warranty or guarantee

At Dominant Construction, we are always keen to know about your projects and we are happy to work with you to make sure that your project is completed on time and on budget. If you are planning a renovation project give us a call or make an appointment to come and have a chat at our office in Hammersmith. We are always happy to talk construction.

If you have always dreamt of a massive open-plan kitchen but are not quite ready to move in order to have one, maybe a kitchen extension is the perfect solution for you. Not only will a kitchen extension give you the additional room you are looking for but it will potentially also give you a much better flow of space and also add value to your property.

Let’s not sugar-coat it – a kitchen extension is a big job so planning is key. But don’t let this scare you. Here we will give you some tips as to how you can design, plan and cost the kitchen of your dreams and how to tackle any problem that you may encounter.

1. Planning is Very Important

It is important to be clear from very early on, as to what the layout for your new kitchen will be. This will help with the installation of all things electrical and plumbing. Think about what you want from your extension. Do you need room for a dinning space? Do you want a kitchen island? Make sure that your plan allocates enough space for these. You also want to make sure that your extension will be getting enough natural light as you may have to plan and budget for glass roofing or skylights. Every decision you make will have a cost attached to it so make sure that you know what you need, what you want and be realistic about what your budget will deliver. To be on the safe side, always have a contingency fund which should be roughly about 10 – 15 % of your initial estimate.

2. Choose an Architect or Designer

Once you know what you want, choose an architect or designer. They will be able to advise realistically on what is possible and guide you through the planning process as well as assist you with your budget. Make use of family and friend’s recommendations and try and work with a professional with the right qualifications. Don’t be shy to ask your chosen designer / architect to see some of their previous work and for references.

3. Understand the Rules

Once you have agreed with your architect on a design, you will know if your project falls under permitted development of if you will have to apply for planning permission. Your architect should be able to advise you on this. Even if the project falls under permitted development, you will still need to obtain building regulations approval from a building control officer. Building regulations apply to most work and ensure safety and energy efficiency. You can choose between a local authority inspector or a private one.

If you have to apply for planning permission, and your house isn’t listed or subject to restrictions, your architect can submit the plans for you. Allow at least ten weeks for applications to be processed. You may also require approval under the ‘Party Wall’ Act, which is a wall that stand on either side of a boundary of land belonging to two or more owners. Works with foundations within a certain distance of the walls will also fall under the act so make sure that this is sorted prior to commencing work.

For most kitchen extensions, you will find that a single-storey extension will suffice and as it happens, it is also the most planning permission friendly option. However, make sure you do not encroach too much into your garden as this could result in the works affecting the value of your property negatively. If you are extending a terraced house, a side-return extension is a great option as this will provide you with the desired extra space and bring in natural light if you choose to install skylights or a glass roof to the extension.

4. Find the Right Building Team

Just as with the Designer / Architect, you may want to start by asking friends and family for recommendations when looking for a contractor. Your architect or designer may be able to recommend a good team to work with.

5. Speak to a Kitchen Designer

You may want to do this at the same time as you are looking for a contractor. Whilst your architect may have planned a basic layout for you, these have to be interpreted by a specialised kitchen company. They will be able to fine-tune the design and come up with suggestions on how to make your vision come true. They will also be able to develop a detailed drawing that will include wiring and plumbing which you can then provide your contractor with.

6. Building

Once all permits have been sorted work can begin. At this stage, all your ‘first-fix’ decisions, such as wall positioning, floors, ceilings, electrics and pipes should have been finalised. Once preliminary work is on the way, you can move forward with other design decisions such as finishes, light fittings and tiling. At this stage you should also have finalised a contract with your contractor. We suggest you use a contract that allows for payment against valuations, as we provide at Dominant Construction. This means that payments are made periodically once a percentage of work is completed. This will give you greater control over your project.

7. Final Stages

Once all building work and snagging is finalised, you can begin to lay your flooring. This will then lead to you being able to install all your cabinets and appliances.

Fitting of a new kitchen can take up to four weeks, so keep this in mind when developing your work schedule. After your cabinets have been fitted, your worktops will be templated, which can take up to 3 weeks. In the meantime, you can install lighting fixtures, hardware and do final decorating. Once your worktops are installed your kitchen should be ready!

If you are planning to build a kitchen extension we would love to hear from you. At Dominant Construction, we are always keen to have a chat on how we can help you build the kitchen of your dreams. Give us a call at 020 71186155 or make an appointment to come to talk to us in person at our office in Hammersmith. We are always happy to talk about construction with you .  

An extension is a great way to add space to your home. From expanding your kitchen with a single-storey extension to building a full two-storey extension, there are many ways of achieving the extra space that you need. However, whenever carrying out a major home improvement, such as an extension, one has to consider – How much value will this extra space add to my home?

Most of the time, when a property owner decides to embark in an extension project, it is not with a view to sell. As a matter of fact, most times, it is in order to avoid selling. Most of the time, any form of improvement, extensions included, will add value to your property. However, it is important to understand how much value a possible extension would add to your home to have a better idea of what a sensible budget would be for the project.

How much value does an extension add? The value an extension can add to your property can vary greatly depending on the size, style and complexity of the work done, not to mention the location of the property.

In the UK, an average 3-bedroom house with an extension that creates a double bedroom with an en-suite can add up to 12% to the value of the property. It is of great importance, when deciding on a budget, to do your research and understand how the design and quality of your extension will have a bearing on the value it adds to your home. You can gain some insight by speaking to local property experts and architects. This will help you accurately estimate the current value of your home, as well as its potential value once the changes have been made.

If your main goal when extending your property is to add as much value as possible to your home here are some suggestions on what you can consider doing:

Loft Conversion

One of the most popular home improvement projects, a loft conversion is a popular way to gain extra living space. Most commonly used to add an extra bedroom and potentially an en-suite bathroom, this type of conversion can add up to 20% to the value of your home if done to really high specs.

Single Storey Extension.

This type of extension is mostly used to increase kitchen or living space. With open-plan living becoming more and more popular, a home with an extended living space is very desirable. Doing a kitchen or living space extension can add between 5 and 8 percent of value to your home.

Double-Storey Extension

If you decide to embark in this type of project, you will most probably not only be adding living space but also bedroom and bathroom areas. An expansive extension like this, can add round 12% to your property market price.

Garage Conversion

A garage conversion is potentially one of the most valuable home improvement projects you can do. With most of the garages in the UK not being utilised to store vehicles, it is no surprise this is a no-brainer when it comes to home extensions. Converting a garage into a living space, can add to a whopping 20% of value to your home if you convert it into a bedroom with an en-suite. If you convert it into a study, playroom or a home-gym you will be looking at around 10%.

To make sure that the money you invest in your extension project, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • What is the celling price for similar properties in your area.
  • Compare the budget to the value add and make sure it does not exceed the potential added value.
  • Keep in mind any complexities such as ground sloping or deeper foundations that could make your project more expensive than originally thought.
  • Make sure that you do a quality build by hiring experienced and qualified people. Quality might cost more, but it will end up adding more value.

The price of an extension will vary greatly and will greatly depend on the size, style and design of the actual extension, the location of your property and the fixture and finishes. We recommend you find a building expert in your area, and that you compare prices and quotes before committing.

At Dominant Construction, we are always keen to talk to you about your project. Call us at 020 71186155 or come and visit us at our office in Hammersmith and we will be happy to have a chat on what type of extension would be best for your property. At Dominant Construction we are always happy to talk about construction.

When embarking on a renovation project, of the most daunting tasks is the one of choosing the right team to work with you. How will you know if they have the right experience and skills? Are they a trustworthy team? Will you have a good working relationship? Here are our top tips on how to find the perfect team to make your renovation project great.

Let’s be honest, finding the right construction team is not the easiest part of the new project you are embarking on. With a palpable shortage in trade’s ranks, the demand for building teams is sky-high. Finding the right construction team is a tricky proposition today.

However, finding the right team to work with you is of great importance. This will yield not only the best quality build, but will also ensure that you have a good relationship with your building team as this will, in the end, save you time, money and grief.

1. Find A Local Builder.

Engaging a building team that works locally can have great benefits. They will most probably have in-depth knowledge of local building regulations and know all the best suppliers in the area which will in turn result in a more agile project. Being local also means that they will spend more time on-site and will have some area specific knowledge that can be invaluable for your project.

2. Get Recommendations From Other Trades People.

If you have used an electrician or a plumber before, and are happy with their work, ask them if they work with a construction team on regular basis. Chances are that other providers that have worked with them in the past, have similar working styles and ethics that will potentially match your requirements.

3. Ask Your Friends.

It sounds cliché but word of mouth is a great place to start. Many construction teams or individual trades rely on word of mouth as their main means of garnering new clients. If you can have a friend recommend someone they have worked with, you will be able to gain some insight on the way that this particular provider works and gage if they will be a good fit for your project and your personal style of running a project. You might also be able to see the work they have done for your friends and see if the work they have done is up to your personal standards.

4. Try To Talk To Previous Customers.

If the construction team you are planning to engage have forged good relationships with previous clients and have delivered successful projects in the past, there is a high probability that they will be able to provide you with some contacts you can talk to. Do keep in mind that not all previous clients are necessarily keen on being contacted by potential clients but chances are that contractors with good reputations can provide some form of reference.

5. Find A Builder Online

Find a trusted builder on guild sites (Such as the Federation of Master Builders) or on a trade aggregator site such as  Checkatrade. These websites have done some of the legwork for you and have a set of checks and accreditations that must be met for providers to list on their sites. If you’ve found a few contacts, take a look at their website to find out what work they cover and to see if you can look at examples of their previous work.

6. Find A Building Team Through Your Architect.

If you are working with an architect, they will probably have experience in many projects similar to yours. Depending on your particular arrangement with your architect or interior designer, they might be able to assist in your search.

7. Be Cautious Of Quotes That Are Too Good To Be True.

When something seems too good to be true, more often than not, it is. While a high price is not the same as high quality, we recommend you resist the temptation to just make your decision solely on price point. If a tender comes in significantly lower than other you have secured, you should be suspicious. Potentially, the other quotes are excessively high and the one firm with the low price is really just good value. But, more likely than not, the more economical firm is presenting you with a speculative bid just to secure the work  and aims to make up for their profit by cutting corners or introducing extra charges later on. This will certainly lead to disputes down the line which will be more complicated to solve once the project is on the way.

8. Assess Your Building Team Before You Commit.

How many other projects are they working on? Do they have the workforce needed to deliver your project in time and on budget? How much experience do they have with projects such as yours? Also you might want to check if they have the right insurance, if they can sign off on gas and electrics and if they are members of any trade organisations that commits them to higher working standards.

9. Make Sure You Builder’s Estimate Is Clear And Matches Your Expectations.

  • How detailed is it? 
  • Is it broken down?
  • Is there a split between materials and labour?
  • What is exactly included in the price?
  • Does it cover everything you have asked for?
  • Has waste been properly accounted for? Are skips and muck-away lorries included?
  • Are there any elements which stand out to you?
  • Is it clear whether VAT is included? 
  • Is there a project management fee included, or will you be running the job for yourself? 
  • How many site meetings are planned to keep everything communicated and up to date? 
  • Has allowance been made for building inspectors’ fees?

10. Get A Proper Contract In Place.

A contract should detail the extent of the work to be carried out in return for the agreed price – in addition to recording any extras as yet unagreed – is a useful point of reference in the event of any dispute. A proper contract will protect you in the event anything goes wrong and documents everything to provide both parties with peace of mind. 

At Dominant Construction we are always keen to see how we can help you bring your project to life and make your renovation experience a great one. Please get in touch if you would like to chat with us about your upcoming project.

Building an extension can be a big project. Every project is as individual as the homeowners who embark on it and there no one size fits all guide to ensure that you achieve the results you are after. Each extension project will serve specific needs and have its own benchmarks. However, there are some core elements you must get right in every one of them. Here are a few suggestions to manage plans, budgets and contractors that will help you make your project a success.

When thinking of building an extension, be it a kitchen extension or a double story side extension, it is a wise move to be aware of construction issues that could potentially affect your project such as new construction regulations in your area, material and trade availability or price hikes.

You should be aware if any of these issues could potentially affect your time-lines and if so, make the necessary allowances. Depending on the size of your project, you should consider a time-frame of between 6 to 8 months for a medium extension though this can vary greatly depending on the project specifications, complexity and  the area in which the property is located. Keep in mind that the best qualified contractors are usually booked many months in advance so allocate some buffer time to your schedule for the initiation of your project.

Managing an extension project on your own, especially if you are a novice, can be a huge task that could take a lot of your time and patience. Between requesting and assessing quotes from different trades and suppliers to sourcing the right materials, an extension project can potentially become a full-time job without realising it. You can mitigate this by seeking the advice of a quantity surveyor (QS) to help you manage the project. A QS can be also known in the industry as a Construction Cost Consultant or Commercial Manager, and their role is to keep a close eye on project finances and contractual relationships.

Be realistic about your budget. It is easy to get carried away with design ideas we see in magazines and on Instagram, but it is crucial that one is realistic about cost. Calculating a budget of roughly £ 2,000/m2 should give you a good idea of the budget needed for a good quality project. However a word of caution, the higher the specs the higher the budget needed. A good way to effectively calculate a budget is to make design decisions as early as possible. Opting for marble rather than tiles for your kitchen floor for example could have a great impact on the overall budget not only because of the cost of materials but because you might need specialised tradesmen to do the installation.

Most projects will cost more than expected. Changes in materials and unexpected hurdles can see a project’s cost increase regardless of how well things have been budgeted for. Once you have decided on a budget, it is advisable to calculate at least a 20% contingency fund. Most reputable contractors and tradesmen will help you keep to your budget. Unfortunately in every project there can be unforeseen complications such as hidden structural problems or severe weather which can increase the overall cost.

In terms of managing your project, there are multiple options depending you’re your specific needs, preferences, budget and project. You can consider hiring an architect and/or designer to help you draw up all necessary plans for your scheme and can guide you through the whole process. This could also encompass the co-ordination of the various consultants required before the project begins, including designers, structural engineers, party wall surveyors, the Building Control Officer plus any other specialists. Your architect might also be able to see you through the planning permission process. Once the project begins, the management role can be passed onto your main contractor.

If you’d prefer there are also design and build companies with in-house professionals who can take you through from the start of the design process right up until completion. For much larger and complex projects you could also consider a professional project manager to oversee everything. This could save you stress, time and crucially cost as they would have done projects similar to yours many times before.

If your budget is limited, you can save some money by project managing yourself. This can provide you with great control over budget and construction, however beware, as this also means you will be undertaking responsibility for some decisions and should these need to be rectified the onus could be fully on you. None the less, this can be a hugely satisfying experience.

You could also consider splitting the project management. For example your main contractor can project manage until you project is watertight at which stage you can take over and manage all sub-contractors such as plumbers, electricians, tilers, etc.

Have a chat with some contractors early on. An informal chat with a contractor will give you an idea of the feasibility of your project and give you a more accurate idea of time-frame and cost.

At Dominant Construction we are always keen to talk about construction. We are bespoke building experts and would love to hear about your project and explore how we can help bring your vision to life. Give us a call on 020 71186155 or book an appointment to come see us at our office in Hammersmith.

Building an extension to your home is a project that can provide you with that extra space you need without having to move. It can also add value to your home. However it is also a costly and potentially complex project. To make sure that you reap the rearwards of a home extension, here are 12 things you want to keep in mind.

1. Will An Extension Really Add Value To My Home?

It all depends. It is all about the right balance. If you are building an extension with the idea to sell, you want to make sure you do not invest more than what you are likely to recuperate. An extension can add value in terms of the space it will create but might not necessarily add value when selling your property. The extension you decide to build should be in line with the potential ceiling of properties in your area. That is to say that if the most expensive properties in your area are selling for £500,000, investing £300,000 in a massive extension will probably not be the best financial decision even if it provides you a great home. Talk to a local estate agent as they can help you understand the local market and give you an idea of what similar extended homes in your area are selling for.

2. Do I need Planning Permission?

You might be able to build an extension under Permitted Development. If so, you won’t have to go down the formal route. Keep in mind that if your house is in a Conservation Area or a National Park, the amount of work you will be allowed to carry out is reduced. Under Permitted Development you can carry out certain work as long as you meet criteria such as:

  • You can extend a detached property by eight metres to the rear if it is a single storey extension (six metres for a semi-detached or terraced house) or by three metres if it is a double storey.
  • A single-storey extension can’t exceed four metres in the ridge and the eaves, and the ridge heights of an extension can’t be higher than the existing property.
  • A double storey extension can’t be built within seven meters of its rear boundary.
  • A side extension can only be single storey and a width that does not exceed half the size of the original building.
  • Extensions can’t go forward of the original building line.
  • In certain areas such as those of outstanding natural beauty or conservation areas, side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey.
  • An extension must never cover more than half the garden.

From 31st August 2020, the rules changed so that two-storey extensions on detached, semi-detached and terraced houses will be fast-tracked as long as they get prior approval. This means the local authority have to be notified of the details before the project starts and it’s a much more involved process with the Local Authority. However, some restrictions apply.

  • Once completed, the building must not be more than 18 metres hight.
  • The floor-to-ceiling height of any additional storey must not be more than three metres in  height or higher than the floor-to-ceiling height of any of the existing storeys.
  • The overall height of the extension, including the roof, must not be more than seven metres high.

If you are planning a larger extension, chances are that you will need Planning Permission and will need to submit an application. It is a good idea to engage with your local authority early on and get information on local planning policies prior to submitting your application.

3. Do I Need A Lawful Development Certificate?

Even if you can extend your home under Planning Development (PD) rights, it is always a good idea to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate from your local authority to ensure that the work was lawful and met the PD requirements.

4. How Close To A Boundary Wall Can I Build?

If your extension requires digging or building foundations within three meters of the boundary, party wall or party wall structure, or digging foundations within six metres of a boundary, the work will require compliance with the Party Wall Act.

In some cases excavating within six metres of an adjoining property can also be covered by the Act. But this only applies where the new foundations are so deep that drawing an imaginary line downwards at a 45° angle from the bottom of the next door’s foundations would hit them, for example on a steeply sloping site or where you’re incorporating a basement. 

There are two other situations where the Party Wall Act applies. When a new extension is designed to maximise floor area by building right up to, or ‘astride’ the garden boundary between two properties and when you physically cut or alter a party wall. (such as where you want to build onto your neighbour’s existing wall so it becomes your new extension’s party wall).

5. What Do I Need To Consider When Drawing Up Plans?

When drawing plans for your extension you want to keep in mind:

  • soil type on the site
  • services
  • surrounding trees
  • any history of flooding
  • site access
  • rights of way

Also do not forget to notify you insurer as your policy might not cover you during the work period.

6. Do I Need An Architect To Build An Extension?

You do not necessarily need an architect but it can be very helpful. An architect can help you draw plans that can be used for submission to your local authorities for planning approval and to produce drawings and calculations for Building Regulation purposes. (These documents will also form part of the tender process documents when hiring builders). When choosing an architect, chose one that you feel gets your lifestyle and understands your needs.

7. Do I Need To Provide A Design Brief?

The simple answer is yes. The clearer and more detailed the better. You should tell your designer/architect/contractor how you would like your home to work for you, what your budget is and your likes and dislikes. This not only will you’re your designer/architect/contractor understand what you really want, but will let them know you are serious about the project.

8. Do I Need To Comply With Building Regulations?

Once again the answer is yes. Even if you do not require planning consent, you need to comply with building regulations. You can either submit a Full Plan Submission or a Building Notice.

  • Full Plan Submission: send plans to your local authority building control or approved inspector prior to the build for approval. The building inspector visits your site at different stages and inspects the work as it progresses.
  • Building Notice: is a statement which lets the local authority know that you will be complying with the regulations in building your extension and gives the building control department 48-hours notice of your intention to start the work. Building inspectors will inspect the work at various stages and will advise you of any problems.

Keep in mind that with a building notice, you could potentially find out that you have a compliance issue once the project has started and this means that you will have to pay to set it right. All alterations to listed buildings, including internal ones, will require consent and carrying out work without, is a criminal offence.

If you are planning to extend your home, give us a call at 020 71186155 or set up an appointment to speak with our construction experts at our office in Hammersmith. At Dominant Construction, we are always keen to talk about construction and how to make your project a success.

We spend close to 90% of our day indoors. During winter this could be even longer. However, as humans, we evolved mostly outdoors. This means that by spending long periods indoors we do not get enough fresh air, spend less time with nature and get less sun. While too much sunlight can be harmful to our skin, not getting enough also brings an array of negative effects. As of late, there has been an emphasis in designing spaces that provide us with the right amount of sunlight as this has multiple benefits.

1. Save Energy and Money

The most obvious benefit of having plenty natural light in our homes is it can reduce the cost of energy as natural light will help keep a space warm and bright without the use of electricity.

2. Focus

It has been proven that receiving natural light both during the morning and evening increases concentration and focus. If you are feeling foggy for example try looking out the window and soaking a few sun rays. This should help you boost alertness. If you are working from home, it is important to have enough natural light as this will make you more productive than if you work in an artificially lit environment. Also, having the right amount of natural light during the day will help you regulate your sleep pattern which will make you more productive the next day.

3. Reduce Your Blood Pressure

Research has shown that sunlight alters the level of nitric oxide (NO) in the skin and blood. This in turn reduces your blood pressure. Martin Feelisch, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Integrative Biology at the University of Southampton, says “nitric oxide along with its breakdown products, known to be abundant in skin, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of nitric oxide are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone; as blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

4. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Taking in up to 30 minutes of sun in the morning can help you feel calmed an relaxed. By exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning, you are mimicking the wavelengths of daylight and become better at coping with anxiety as the light improves the communication between the regions of the bran that are central to handling emotions such as stress and anxiety.

5. Boost Your Immune System

We rely on T-cells to fight pathogens and sunlight helps wake them up. T-cells are a type of white blood cell perform a central role in our immune system. In order to be able to fight infections they must be awakened and to do so, we need vitamin D which we naturally produce when exposed to the sun.

6. Increase Your Home Value

The brighter the room, the bigger it looks. An American study has proven that people perceive the value of a property as being higher when it is brighter and has more windows which will make them more willing to pay more for it.

7. Be Happy

Natural light helps you produce serotonin which improves our mood by alleviating pain, providing us with energy and making us feel happy in general. Sunlight also increases our production of endorphins which are our “feel-good” hormones and helps prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a type of depression that can occur during fall and winter related to a disruption of our circadian rhythm and decrease in serotonin and melatonin levels.

8. Increase Your Vitamin D

Your body produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D is vital to over the functioning of over 200 genes in our bodies. The production of vitamin D influences our bones, intestines, immune and cardiovascular systems, pancreas, muscles and brain amongst many other organs and functions. Having a healthy dose of sunlight come into your home can help you get the necessary amount of vitamin D without having to think much about it.

9. Good Vision

While you shouldn’t look directly at the sun, natural light can be beneficial for your eyes. Computer screens and blue light emitted by many of our communication devises can strain our eyes causing irreparable damage. Natural light has been shown to lower the risk of near-sightedness in children and young adults by producing dopamine which aids in healthy eye development.

10. Lose Weight

Exposure to sunlight helps us produce higher levels of serotonin which in turn will make us feel less hungry. A study in 2014 found that ultraviolet radiation helps suppress obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

How To Maximise Natural Light In Your Home

Don’t block light sources with furniture and decorate using a lighter palette. You can also use mirrors to reflect natural light and avoid heavy drapes or window treatments. If you are planning on renovating your home, speak to your contractor and your architect to make sure that they are aware you want to incorporate natural light where it makes sense. We are always happy to chat about your renovation plans and help you bring your vision to life. Visit us at our office at 185 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8QX, call us at 020 71186155 or drop us a line at info@dominantconstruction.co.uk

An extension can be a great way to bring life to a once dark and dated kitchen. Through careful planning and design, even a north facing kitchen extension can be transformed into a spectacular space.

1. Bring in Light From Above

A skylight or a Velux window can bring up to 3 times as much light as a standard vertical window. Adding one to your new kitchen extension is a great way to brighten up the room – especially if your kitchen extension is north facing.

A skylight in a kitchen extension is a great way to make the room look more spacious and is a fantastic way to add a contemporary touch to any room. If you are looking for something a bit different you might want to consider a roof lantern. These look amazing in both contemporary and traditional spaces and are a great way to create the illusion of space.

2. Add a Glass Ceiling to Your Side Return Extension

Side return extensions can be quite dark, especially if you’ve had to sacrifice at least one window to the side of your home. If this is the case with your new extension, you can add a full glass ceiling to maximise the amount of light allowed into the room. Another option is to add a modular skylight which will add the effect of a glass ceiling while providing effective ventilation.

3. Let Light Flow Internally

In addition to the light provided by sources directly installed onto your extension, you can take advantage of light coming from other places in your home. By removing internal partitions or using transparent or translucent walls, you can take advantage of light coming from the front of your property. You can also bounce light off walls if these are decorated in light colours.

4. Glaze Your Gables

If you utilise the space between your gables and doors, you will be able to introduce extra light into your home. It will also be a very interesting design feature and you will be making of what otherwise would be wasted space. Depending on the glass panel size you can create a design feature that works well with both contemporary and traditional schemes.

5. Glazed Extensions

A glazed extension is the ultimate way to let the most light into your kitchen. This very on trend option can be a striking part of your extension and you can go for a minimal framed extension for a minimal look or a panelled style if you want to follow the latest trend.

6. Use Bright Colours

As when using light colours to bounce light from other parts of the home into your extension, you might want to consider keeping the décor in the extension itself light by using a white or a cream palette. A good option is to use light worktops and pale flooring to maximise the light reflexion.

7. Create a Feature Window

A full length window can transform a bland space into a feature and allow more light than a regular window would. It will not only bring in plenty of light but will also create the illusion of space and of bringing the outdoors in.

If you are planning a kitchen extension and are not sure how to go about it, give us a call at 020 71186155 or visit us at our office in Hammersmith. We are always happy to have a chat on how to bring your vision to life.

Embarking on a renovation project can be stressful. Here are some tips on how to make sure that your project is an total success. These suggestions should help you save time, money and stress and avoid misunderstandings with your contractors.

1. Check If You Need Any Type Of Permit

You may need to secure more than one type of permissions or approvals before you can commence work on your home. You might want to check if you need building regulations approval (these might be needed even for small improvements) or planning permission (needed when you are building something new or undertaking a major change) for example. You do not have to apply for building regulations approval yourself if your contractor is registered with a competent person scheme. However, if your contractor is not able to assist you with these requirements you might have to submit a building notice or a full plans application yourself to the Building Control Body in your area. If you have to get approval or permission you can consider hiring a surveyor or an architect to help you with the application process. If your property falls within a conservation area you will also have to check with your council before you do any work. One more thing to consider if you are a leaseholder of the property is that you may need permission from the freeholder before work begins. It is important that all necessary permits are in place as failure to do so may result in a fine or you could even be prosecuted. You could also be asked to remove any work done.

2. Make Sure You Work With A Reputable Contractor

There are many options when it comes to hiring a contractor for your project. A good place to begin will be with recommendations from friends or family. If you are not able to find a good recommendations you should ask your contractor candidates to share with you some examples of previous work they have done similar to your project. You can consider requesting for references from previous clients thought this might not always be an option. Make sure that your appointed contractors are qualified, especially those dealing with electrics or gas. Check credentials and reviews on-line and take a close look at their website Ig anything looks amiss, or information is contradictory, it is always best to double check. Take into consideration things such as how professional their communications are, if they have a proper letterhead, business card, a professional looking website and an office. A business that takes pride in the way they communicate with their client will probably take pride in the work they deliver. Be wary of contractors that only give you a mobile number as they may be difficult to contact after your project is finished should there be any problem.

Make sure you meet and interview your contractor before your project begins. To ensure that there are no miscommunications, write down a clear and detailed description of what you want done. Be straight forward about your budget and set a list of questions that will help you get all the information you need to compare and choose between providers. When interviewing your candidates, ensure you are a good match, if for any reason you do not feel comfortable with a specific contractor, it is best you do not collaborate with them.

3. Get A Proper Quote

Get everything in writing. Do not rely on a verbal promise. Before engaging, it is a good idea to ask if the contractor in question will charge you to provide a quote – some do, it is always better to ask. A written quote also make it easier for you to compare between providers. Don’t forget, once you agree to a quote, this is considered a binding agreement between you and your chosen contractor, whether it is a written quote or not. Having a written quote however, will make it easier for your to check what was agreed and use as a resource should there be a dispute.

Remember as well that a quote and an estimate are not the same. A quote is a fixed price while an estimate is a figure provided for reference. A contractor can only make additional charges if there is a variation on the work that was originally agreed upon, if they let you know that there is extra work to be done and you agree to pay more for it, or if they have made a genuine mistake when writing down or calculating a price (they have the legal right to charge you what it should have been).

There are a few red flags that you should look out for when engaging a contractor. If a contractor refuses to give you a written quote for example, it could be a sign that they are being dishonest. As well, if a quote is much cheaper than others, it might mean that they are unreliable, that they lack the necessary skills or that they have not understood the project scope.

You should always be very clear as to what you want done. This will help contractors provide you with an accurate quote and avoid misunderstandings down the line. A quote should always include a fixed price, a breakdown of all the work to be done and the materials needed, a separate cost for each material and par of the work, how long the quote is valid for, if the price includes VAT and situations that could trigger a change in price.

4. Insurance

It is wise to check if the contractor you engage has the correct type of insurance. Ask to see the insurance policies and make sure they do not run out before the projected finish date of your project.

A reliable contractor should have Public Liability Insurance to cover you and them if someone is hurt or the property is damaged. If they do not have it, and you still want to work with them, you may consider taking out an insurance policy of your own.

Employers who work through a company also are required by law to have Employer’s Liability Insurance. It does not matter if it is their own company or not. This will cover you ad the company if they are hurt on the job.

5. Contracts

As soon as you give a contractor the go-ahead, you have made a contract with them, even if it has not been written down.

Always get a contract in writing before you give the go-ahead. A contract will allow you to make sure you and the contractor are on the same page and will provide you a base for discussion should there be any disagreements. Once you have a contract, review it with care, and make sure that it includes everything you agreed.

A contract should also give you a clear time-frame covering the length of the project. It should include start and finish dates and what might happen if there are any delays including what mitigating measures the contractor has in place.

A contract should also cover costs such as skips and clean-up, who pays to buy or hire materials be it for the main contractor or any sub-contractor and how paperwork for these costs will be handled. It should also specify if any sub-contractor will be used.

It should also cover payment. It should clearly state how and when you will pay.

If you have a renovation project you would like to discuss with us, get in touch or visit us at our office in Hammersmith. We are always happy to chat on how we can help you bring your project to life.

Renovating a property can be a costly affair and not always one that will provide you with the returns that you expect. Here are the top 8 home renovation projects that will add value to your home.

Kitchen and Bathroom Upgrades

Kitchen and Bathroom upgrades are the renovations projects that will most surely add value to your property. No surprise that these are also the most common upgrades a property will undergo. When viewing a house for purchase or rental, most people will look at bathrooms and kitchens in most detail as these are two of the highest traffic areas in a home. To enhance the value of your property invest in creating a dream kitchen or a luxurious bathroom and remember that a bit of research can go a long way. Using good fixtures and finishes can add some serious pounds to the sale value of your home.

Upgrading Your Boiler Or Heating Equipment.

In the list of home upgrades that add value to the home, changing your boiler or updating your heating equipment comes second only to kitchen and bathroom upgrades. While changing your boiler is not cheap, it is also not the renovation project with the biggest price tag in this list. However, doing so, can be a wise investment. Getting a new boiler is a simple way to make your home more energy efficient and increasing its EPC rating which in turn, increasing your property value.

Double Glazing

While doing a home renovation project, replacing your windows can be considered a big ticket item. Especially if you are talking about a period property or one that is listed. However, it is also one of the renovation projects that can potentially change the price tag of your home dramatically. Just like when you upgrade your boiler or your heating system, changing your windows to ones that are energy efficient, will improve your homes EPC and overall value. In the long run, your energy bills will be considerably lower and as this is a big project, having it done prior to attempting to sell your home, could be a unique selling point.

Garden and Patio Make-Over

Upgrading your garden or patio can have a serious effect on the desirability of your property. By upgrading your garden or patio, people will perceive your home as finished and ready to move in. By adding a patio or sun deck or simply by landscaping the existing garden, your home will become more inviting.

Bigger Rooms

We know that space comes at a premium, especially in high density urban areas such as London. However this does not mean that more rooms always equate to better selling power. Small rooms created by partitioning bigger rooms can be at times unusable. By ensuring that all rooms in the house have enough space to serve a specific purpose other than storage, you will increase the value of your home.

Home Extensions

Any home extension will be a considerable investment. None the less, it is one investment that usually provides the desired returns. If your property has the potential for an extension be it to the side, rear or into the loft, and you are looking at ways of significantly increase the value of your home, this is a sure way to add more than a few pounds to your home’s price tag.

Loft Conversions

This is one of the most common home renovation projects in the UK. A loft conversion can provide a home with the much coveted extra space that our lifestyle demands. A loft extension can be an extra bedroom, a home gym, a playroom or even a home office. Lofts are also one of the most underutilised spaces in a home so why not turn this forgotten space into a money maker.

Decorating

Sometimes all a home needs is a good lick of paint and some creative design ideas. A home might be perfectly proportioned, have the exact number of rooms that your buyer needs and be in the perfect location but if it is looking tired, it will be a tough sell. Someone looking for a home to buy or rent needs to be able to visualise themselves living in the property and no one wants to live in a tired old house. Do not forget that while love is in the eyes of the beholder, a tired looking property will be difficult to love not matter what. Give your home a lick of paint, change the carpets and buy some new furniture. You will see how fast the perceived value of your home increases almost instantly.

If you are thinking of selling your home or putting it in the rental market and need advice on renovation ideas that might help you do so, we are always happy to have a chat. Give us a call on 020 71186155 or make an appointment to come and see us at our office in Hammersmith so we can have a chat about construction.

Summer is here and with it come long bright days and higher temperatures. While most of the time this wonderful warm days are a delight, there are other times when they can become insufferable. If temperature soar, you will want to ensure that your home is a cool, safe heaven.

It’s Cool To Be Cool

You electric appliances and light bulbs actually affect the indoor temperature of your home. Summer is the perfect time to change any incandescent light bulbs at home for energy efficient ones such as LEDs or CFLs. By doing so, you will not only reduce up to 80% of the electricity used to light up your home, but will also achieve lower indoor temperatures. You should also consider upgrading major electrical appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers and dryers which might be past their prime, for more efficient ones – you will be helping the planet, your finances and will be keeping your rooms a few degrees cooler.

Give Your Windows The VIP Treatment.

Window treatments both inside and out can help you keep your home fresh. Window treatments will enhance your home’s appearance and will also reduce the interior temperature. With the right blinds or curtains you will be able to keep the sunlight out of any room, which will in turn reduce their temperature. Lighter coloured drapes and thermal blinds are the most efficient in reducing heat transmission while cellular shades are great at providing an insulating effect.

Out With The Old In With The New

Repairing or replacing old or damaged windows can be one of the most effective moves when trying to control your home’s temperature this summer. There is a great amount of heat gain dependant on the type and quality of your windows. If you have leaky windows or if they were built of energy inefficient materials, this will directly affect how hot your home will become during the summer days (and how cold it will be during winter as well!). By repairing, sealing or waterproofing your windows you might be able to save up to 10% on your energy bills. If you choose to replace your windows rather than repair them, think of double glazing and high-performance glass (low-E coating) which can reduce heat transfer significantly.

Insulation Is King

If you are looking for a small home renovation project this summer that will help keep your home cool, look at insulating leaky ducts, including those in your attic and walls. If you are ready for a bigger renovation project and insulation is on the table, you want to make sure that you chose the right materials when undertaking this task. Consider insulation material which contains a high thermal mass, which basically means it will store heat efficiently but it will also prevent heat from penetrating your home just as well.

Make Your Garden Beautiful

Did you know that making improvements to the outside of your home and your garden or front lawn can help reduce the heat that is transferred into your home? Try planting shade trees to shelter windows that are directly exposed to the sun or why not think of installing an awning to provide some shade directly outside your windows and doors. You might also want to try painting the outside of your home a lighter colour to help minimise heat absorption or use patio or deck materials that are heat reflecting.

Whatever it is that you choose to do to keep you cool this summer, if it involves any kind of renovation, we would be more than happy to help. Give us a call at 020 71186155 or visit us at our new office at 185 Fulham Palace Road in Hammersmith and share your vision with us, we would be very keen in helping you make it a reality.