When your home in London becomes too small or doesn’t suit your needs any more, you have three options. Two of them are: do nothing (leave everything as is – somehow will survive) or relocate, move into a bigger, better property. However, the latter option very often is not available given the economy situation and credit crunch.
The third option is do something with your current home to add more space or just to modify to meet your demands better. Doing your home improvement can be the way of utilizing existing (and very often unused) space better.
Generally speaking, a house is a box, partitioned into separate rooms. Doors allow us to go from one room into another, windows are the source of light and fresh air. Plumbing and electrical installations provide us with hot water, central heating, electricity. Whole construction usually can be modified to make it better.
There are of course many things the home owner can do to improve the home when also doing an internal construction project, perhaps replacing windows and maybe the addition of a high quality composite door might help bring the whole property look up to date from the outside as well as the work about to commence inside.
When it comes to any building alterations, you always have to think about two things. Is it structurally possible and is it legal? You always have to check with local authorities and building regulations whether you need a planning permission or not.
The house layout can be modified in two ways. First – building an extension to provide more living space. Second – the alteration of the existing layout and improvement. We will look into few options – loft conversion, splitting one room into two rooms, joining two rooms into one, relocating a kitchen or a bathroom into a room.
Build an extension – major home improvement project. There are many factors that you have to consider before proceeding with the actual work. Firstly, you will have to get initial designs for layout – to apply for planning permission. To get a good final result, increasing value to your property, you have to try to maintain the same "look and feel" of your existing property, such as roof type, wall finishing materials, windows and doors, etc. Best extensions are those that do not stand out – look as if they were built originally. You will need an architect who will help you deal with the authorities and builders throughout the extension project. After the plans are approved you will have to get at least few quotes – to compare the price, choose the right builder in London for your project and carefully plan the payments. We will discuss all that in other articles.
Carry out a loft conversion – unused attic space under the pitched roof – could easily be converted into a living space. Firstly you may have to get rid of all the rubbish accumulated over many years. And, don’t forget, you will lose some of the existing space for the staircace. We will talk about loft conversions in more details in other articles.
By repositioning the wall partitions on the upper floors you can create extra bedroom, add a bathroom or extend one room on the expense of reducing another room. Usually there are ways of relocating a bathroom, a bedroom or a kitchen into another space in the house. If there is a garage in the property, you could consider converting it into a bedroom. You could also think of changing any room designation, especially if your family increased or decreased. The options of home improvement discussed below may not need planning permission but may need building control approval.
Splitting one room into two. For that purpose you will have to construct a new partition. New partitions are usually built with studwork, plasterboards and insulation inside – although sometime we build solid type walls: bricks or blocks. For solid type walls there has to be a foundation done first – possible on ground floors.
Most likely a new window in one of the rooms will have to be installed. That means making a new opening in the structural wall: will require lintel installation to support the brickwork above the opening; some plastering will have to be done. You will also need a new door installed Always there is a need of electrical installation, heating system adjustment – for new sockets, lights, radiators. In other words such projects transform your old home into a very new space.
Joining two rooms into one. First of all the partitions have to be removed. Before you do that you have to make sure that the wall to be removed is not structural (supporting the floor above). Even when it seems that partition is not bearing any load, it may have inherited some of it over many years. And after removing such partition you may discover some cracks in walls appearing on the floor above – may need some decorating work done. If the partition is structural, engineer has to come in and do his calculations of what load the wall is bearing and what type of lintel needs to be installed. Another issue you may face - very often floor levels do not match in different rooms and that also would need to be addressed by builders. Again, electrical installation, central heating system will have to be adjusted, plastering and painting decorating. Flooring installation always comes last.
Bathroom or kitchen relocation into a room. As with other projects, altering the initial layout, jobs involved are similar – only few things have to be considered first. Most importantly – where the soil pipe stack is located. Bathrooms and kitchens require waste water pipes installed at a certain gradient (1:40 – for 100 mm pipe, which means pipe has to drop by 2.5 cm every 1 m, for smaller diameters gradient of 1:100 is sufficient). Too steep drop is not good either – water runs too fast leaving hard deposits on the bottom of the pipe. So, there has to be enough room for proper sewage pipe installation gradient. Sometimes, if there is no other way, electric macerator pump is used – pumping foul water out through a small diameter pipe up where it is connected into soil pipe stack. Other factor to consider is air duct installation for ventilation purposes – you have to make sure, bathroom and kitchen is well ventilated to avoid mould growing in every corner.