Expert Insights

Expert Insights

Extending your home: what are the legal considerations?

So your house was a bit of a squash and a squeeze over Christmas (which didn’t come as a surprise because it was the same the Christmas before) but this year you have resolved to do something about it!   You probably have two options: move to a bigger house, or extend where you are.

There is no doubt that there is an enlarging group of ‘non-movers’ who can’t afford to unlock their equity and move into a larger property because incomes have remained relatively static.  If, for whatever reason, moving is out of the question, extending might be a great alternative.

Surprisingly few clients consider the legal issues arising out of an extension project.  It pays to do so early on to avoid any difficulties later, so it might be useful to set out some ‘dos and don’ts’:

  • Do source reputable contractors – request references and view previous work
  • Don’t assume the project can be completed under permitted development planning laws; a full planning application might be necessary and if so, you will need to factor this in to your timings
  • Do consider whether building control will need to be involved and whether you will need to prepare structural calculations
  • Don’t accept and sign a standard ‘JCT’ build contract; it’s unlikely to be on terms favourable to you
  • Do take construction advice so that a bespoke build contract can be drafted to protect both you and your contractor(s)
  • Don’t forget to advise your home insurers of the proposed works, to ensure cover continues during the works (and is elevated as necessary) notwithstanding that your contractors may provide some insurance cover
  • Do contact your mortgagee to advise them of the proposed works; this will almost certainly be a condition of your mortgage and they may want to undertake a valuation

Unfortunately during construction works things can go wrong, and failure to get certain aspects right may result in you struggling to obtain a mortgage, or sell the property in future; good solid legal preparation beforehand is a wise investment and needn’t be too time consuming or complicated. 

Anyway, just think of the extra space you will have for Christmas 2018!

This article was written by William Marriott and first appeared in Surrey Life. If you would like to speak to him about any aspect of buying or selling a house, email him at or call him on +44 (0) 1483 252 519.

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