Being a property development novice is both exciting and daunting.  Many a cautionary tale has been told on the subject.   An abundance of television programmes inform us of the pitfalls at every stage. Some developers focus on the grandeur of their scheme, paying no heed to earthly issues such as budgets and deadlines, seemingly delighting in overspends matched only by the magnitude of their ambitions.  Undoubtedly these stories have all the requisite drama to make it to the small screen. We watch, never imagining that we would make the same mistakes, even if we had the means to make them. Perversely, whilst I am keen for you to follow our venture, if you are looking for that drama I hope to disappoint you.  Naturally there will be challenges, not least of which being the, as yet, undetermined age of our property. There are plenty of unknowns with the potential to throw us off course. Issues will arise. We will tackle them and move forward.  My aim is to journal our progress from start to finish. I will be sharing our experiences, offering insights and observations. Whether you are considering an extension of your own, have an interest in Edwardian architecture, or you are just plain nosy, join me on the Phoenix Quest, the renovation of our home.

Now to the troublesome question of where to start? It is a question that can be asked of both the project and blog itself. After much prevarication I have decided to begin with “The Story so Far.” Yes I confess, we started our quest without you. Sorry.  Look at it this way; I am already able to distil our experiences into a palatable prelude to the main event. Otherwise I fear you would be suffering the tedium of the planning phase, which whilst essential, is not especially newsworthy.  Come to think of it most of the design programmes start their coverage at this point presumably for the same reason. Don’t get me wrong, there are many aspects of this preparation stage of which you need to be aware. Some are exciting: sitting with the architect envisioning the future; brainstorming all the ideas to make the house the best fit for our lifestyle; discovering the history of the house and its previous occupants. Some are not so: obtaining planning permission; scrutinising building drawings fearful something may be incorrect or missing; understanding the  building regulations approval process; dealing with party-wall issues; requiring structural engineering input.  In the fifteen months since we started interviewing architects we have covered all of the above along with a tender process for builder selection which is almost complete.

You may notice the thorny question of finance has yet to make an appearance. This is a crucial consideration and so deserves some time in the spotlight. Be aware that you will need funds to cover all the upfront professional charges. We chose to employ an architect to take us through the design, planning and tender phases of the project. Typically you should expect to pay between 10-12% of the build value for this service. You also need to consider the fees for the approvals and permissions mentioned earlier. There is a wealth of information and guidance available on the costs involved when building an extension.  Builders and architects can estimate the budget for the “new build” relatively easily giving a range of prices per square meter of the additional footprint. Unfortunately for us, it is not as straight forward as that. We are extending, renovating the old parts and attempting to restore period features. Oh and for good measure, changing the use of most of the ground floor space, moving internal walls, rewiring and plastering throughout. The rationale for our budget is driven by two factors: how much we can afford to borrow and the maximum value we can add to the property. Some of the time that has passed is down to the complexities of the scheme. Finalising the specification or ‘spec’ is proving to be a challenge. Though we feel frustrated at the lack of progress and have almost reached the “can we just get on with it!” point, we need to hold our nerve.  We know that effort invested now is the foundation of a successful build.

How did we choose our Architect? What period history have we uncovered? When will we appoint a builder? Why the Phoenix Quest? Watch out for my next post which may, or may not answer all of these questions but will reveal the story of the Windows and the Well…

 © 2014