Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Comprehensive Guide To Building Extensions and Home Transformations

Recently, my sister who lives in London renovated her apartment in a heritage listed building. There were so many decisions to make- checking building regulations, planning extensions, figuring out if she needed council permission to change the existing floorplan, renovating the entire bathroom and kitchen, adding a study nook, adding storage in the hallway and breaking through walls to create a more open plan cohesive space and extending and adding to the living areas.

Since it was just an internal renovation, other than checking and adhering to building regulations, it was a fairly simple renovation. But what if you want a major makeover? Perhaps, you've been thinking of adding extensions to your home. Maybe your family’s getting bigger and you need more space, or maybe you’re looking for a more noticeable change.

Regardless of why you want an extension, it’s not a simple process. You have to make sure the work you want done is within budget. Guest contributor Emma, walks us through all the requirements for building extensions and the types of transformations you can plan for in the U.K. However, whether it is the U.K., Australia, the U.S or South East Asia etc, the fact remains that it’s a MUST that you obtain consent and planning permissions from your local planning authority or council if needed.

What is planning permission?
This refers to the ‘consent’ you need to obtain to be allowed to build on land or change the use of land and buildings. Before anything else, planning permission is the first thing you need to acquire.

Building Regulations are different from planning permission; you should not confuse yourself with the two.

The former is mostly subjective and encompasses the use of land & buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.

Building Regulations, on the other hand, are specific to the design and construction of the buildings. These regulations are meant to ensure the health and safety of the people living in or around the building.

When it comes to building extensions, you may need both planning permission and Building Regulations approval to start work. In some cases, it can be either of the two. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to check with your local planning authority.

Do note that some works fall under Permitted Development. If this is the case, you do not need to apply for a formal planning permission. Otherwise, you’ll need legal consent before you proceed.

Building Extensions Ideas
Before planning permissions and/or building regulations, you need to prepare what extension work you’d like to do. Do note, building extensions don’t always mean you’re literally expanding or extending a part of the house. It could be as simple as rearranging things to make your space look bigger.

Nevertheless, here are some ideas to help you get started. Included are estimated costs to give you a better grasp of how much you’re possibly going to have to shell out. 

Conservatory
A conservatory is, without a doubt, one of the most popular home improvements that you can do. It’s relatively inexpensive, and at the same time, it can be built without planning permission. It differs from an orangery which tends to have a partially solid roof and a higher proportion of solid wall.

It’s also worth noting that a good and nice-looking conservatory can add at least 5% value to your home during a building survey. This is especially important if you are planning to sell your house.

Conservatories are also exempt from Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) of the Building Regulations provided that:
  • at least 50% of the walls are constructed from a translucent material
  • at least 75% of the roof is made from a translucent material
  • the floor area does not exceed 30m²
  • the conservatory is at ground level
  • heating must be independent of the primary dwelling (or operationally independent through zoning)
  • glazing meets Part N (safety concerning impact opening and cleaning) in critical zones
The costs of adding a conservatory vary depending on the design, type of property and location, however typically, it’s around £6,000 to £20,000.

Kitchen extension
Working in a small kitchen can be a real pain especially if you have a big family. If remodelling the kitchen area won't quite cut it, an extension is your best option.

Extending your kitchen is a good move if:
  • You just don’t have enough space to remodel
  • You’ve considered moving to a different house with a bigger kitchen, but it’s not within your budget
  • The value that will be added to your property by extending is larger than your expenditure
While you may not need planning permission for a kitchen extension, you will still need Building Regulations approval. If your house is a listed property, it’s a must that you acquire planning permission to move forward.

A low to mid-range type of kitchen will cost you around £10,000. It all depends on how luxurious and high end you want it to be, so be prepared to spend more if that’s what you're aiming for.

Garage conversion
With extending your kitchen, you can opt to convert your garage into one. If you’re okay with your cooking area and you just want extra living space, your garage will also do the job just fine.

A well-executed garage conversion can add up as much as 10% value to your home. In addition to increased living space, you also avoid the inconvenience and costs of moving. An average single garage would require anywhere between £5,000 to £8,000 to convert.

Planning permission is also not a requirement if you don’t plan to alter the structure of a building. This means that it falls under Permitted Development in most cases unless:
  • You live in a listed building or conservation area
  • Your house is newly-built with the condition that requires the garage to remain as a parking area.
  • Standalone garages are more likely to require one if you plan to convert it to a ‘habitable’ area
Loft conversion
The attic is also a very good place for an extension. Not only will you and your family benefit from the extra accommodation, but it will also add value to your home.

The main factor to consider in loft conversions is whether or not the space is suitable. The type of roof that you have as well as if there’s enough room for the conversion that you also want matters. The following are the types of loft conversion options available to you.

Velux - £20,000 to £25,000
Dormer - £25,000-£30,000 for standard and £40,000-£45,000 for an L-shaped
Hip to Gable - £42,000 to £48,000
Mansard - £45,000 to £50,000

You’ll need to secure planning permission based on the type of conversion and the status of your property (if it’s listed or not). You may also have to wait for 21 days for any objection from your neighbours. That’s if the resulting loft conversion will affect the view of others when it’s higher than the original roof.

Basement conversion
According to The Guardian, the number of planning applications for basement extensions has increased by 183%. Though they’re one of the most expensive methods of extending your living space, it’s a really good idea if you live in a high-cost area.

This is not to discourage you from converting your basement but to give you a better idea, here’s a quick rundown of the costs involved:
  • Conversion of an existing cellar: £750 – £1,400 per square metre
  • Lowering the floor level and underpinning an existing cellar: £1,500 – £2,000 per square metre
  • Digging a new basement and underpinning: £2,000 – £3,000 per square metre
  • creating a light well / external access: £5,000 – £7,500
  • Engineer’s fees: £1,000 – £1,500
  • Planning application, if required: £165
  • Building Regulations application: £750+ depending on the value of the work undertaken
  • Party wall agreements, if required: £700 per neighbour
  • VAT: an additional 20% added by VAT-registered contractors

Unwanted trees out
It’s not exactly building an extension but removing those unneeded trees can free up some much required space. But before you do so, check if other tree projects are possible instead of just removing them. For instance, you can create great works of art through tree carvings.

But if you have to cut them down, proceed with caution. Tree Preservation Orders are set in place to protect them. Removing or altering a tree without legal consent can spell big trouble.

Glass extension
Glazed extensions are different from conservatories as their mainly used to connect two solid parts of the house. They’re also more expensive, but that’s because the ‘wow’ factor that it brings to your property is unparalleled.

Old and listed properties simply look great and are complimented very well by glass extensions. Do note, that if your house is listed, you’ll be needing planning permission. Glass extensions are also functional especially in increasing insulation levels and making your home more energy-efficient.

And since they’re way more expensive than conservatories, prepare a budget of at least £3,000 per square metre. 

Rear extension
This type of extension is usually one of the easier ones to do as they usually fall under Permitted Development unless your property is located in a Conservation Area or is listed. However, there are still certain guidelines that you need to follow, like the ones below:

  • You can only extend up to eight metres from your property’s original rear wall if it’s a detached home.
  • You’re allowed to extend up to six metres only on a semi-detached or terraced home.
  • In both cases, the extension should not be higher than four metres.
  • If the extension project is within two metres of a boundary, the eaves should not be higher than three metres.

The estimated cost for a rear extension of anywhere between £1,200 to £1,500 per metre square. In high-cost areas like London and the South East, it can be around £1,500 to £2,000+ per square metre.

Two-storey extension
If it’s additional space that you’re looking for, a two-storey extension is the best way to go. It can significantly increase both your living space as well as bedroom accommodation at the same time. That’s way better compared to moving to a different house!

While most types of building extensions fall under Permitted Developments, there are some restrictions that you need to keep in mind such as:

  • The new extension should not be taller than the highest part of the existing roof
  • It must not extend beyond the existing rear wall by more than three metres
  • The extension needs to be at least seven metres from the property boundary
  • It needs to be constructed using materials that match the original structure
  • You need a formal consent from your neighbours especially if your property shares a wall with theirs

The cost for a two-storey extension with a kitchen will be around £10,000. A two-storey with bathroom will be at a price range of £7,000. If you need a shower room together with the extension, expect to shell out at least £9,000.

Cellar conversion
A well-converted cellar is a great addition to your home. It can be turned into a gym, a home office, or anything else that’s both habitable and functional. 

Just make sure that it’s properly constructed to be damp and waterproof. Just like basements, cellars are located under the ground which make them prone to problems with damp. The good news is that there are some systems used to damp-proof cellars.

If there’s already an existing cellar at your property, it is highly unlikely that you need planning permission. However, you’ll need to secure one if the conversion will alter the external appearance of the house. A good example is when you’re going to add a light well.

Since cellars and basements have a lot of similarities, you can expect to spend more or less the same for cellar conversions.

So there you have it - an extremely comprehensive guide and costs of various extensions and home transformations! If like my sister, you reside in the UK, then this guide will hopefully be super handy when you plan an extension.

I'll try and put up a guide for fellow Australians soon.

Till next time... are you planning a home makeover or an extension?

About the Author
Emma is a part-time property developer who loves sharing how others can make their homes amazing both inside and out on her blog Fixtures and Flowers. You can chat to Emma on Twitter.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Styling An Elegant Garden Soirée!

After a scorcher of a week, we've been enjoying some beautiful weather, perfect for a festive garden soirée in the great outdoors. So I decided to invite a couple of my girlfriends over and turn it into a garden party/ styling photoshoot opportunity as you do if you're an interior design blogger! 😉
I recently partnered with Temple & Webster to review the beautiful Eivissa acacia 5 piece outdoor dining set and a garden party seemed like the perfect way to do so. The outdoor furniture set includes a round table and four armchairs all made from sturdy acacia timber. The set arrived flat packed in three boxes and I remember looking at them feeling a tad overwhelmed!

But trust me, once you get stuck into it, it's relatively easy to put together. My suggestion- get the chairs out the way first. Once you figure out the instructions and put one chair together, the next three get done like clockwork. The table did take a few extra minutes. The hardest part was figuring out the instructions, especially for a flatpack novice like me. If you've put together IKEA furniture before, you'll breeze through this!

The chairs are large and comfortable to lounge on. I would suggest investing in some pretty outdoor chair cushions and/or chair pads to make the dining experience a little bit more luxe! Temple & Webster have some cute options available. However, the best part about this outdoor dining set are the reclining armchairs! Yes they recline! You can go from sitting upright to comfortably reclining in one smooth motion! #winning (I'll post some photos of the reclined version of the armchairs on my Instagram feed.)

The table and chairs are a smooth light toned wood which is akin to indoor Scandinavian furniture and unlike dark timber or mahogany stained outdoor settings, this colour is versatile and will suit a myriad of backyard landscape designs and colour palettes.

The chairs have soft, rounded edges and of course the table is round which eliminates injury as much as possible when there are little kids running around or playing hide and seek under the table!

The table has an umbrella hole. I'm not particularly fond of outdoor umbrellas, however it is an important feature in case your backyard has little or no shade. We're lucky to have two large, beautiful trees that provide us with ample shade.

We like to use our deck in many different ways for various purposes like having a picnic or setting up Elie's teepee or when we have play dates, I like to put out all the toys, cars and bikes for the kids to play with and move all the furniture out of the way. Therefore, I really like the fact that the chairs and the table can be folded flat and stored away in the garage when the deck is being used for other activities. Also it is handy when you're away on holiday and want to securely stow away everything without it taking up much space.

Overall, I really like the look of warm toned slatted timber. It has a lovely rustic Scandinavian country vibe that is well complemented with the dark grey fence and almost white deck. If yard space is an issue or you're after a small set of outdoor furniture, then seriously look no further than the Eivissa 5 piece outdoor dining set!

I took a ton of photos on the day and here are just some of my favourites. For my garden soirée table styling, I decided on a fresh and pretty, always on trend botanical theme, which is perfect for this time of the year.

I dressed the elegant Eivissa timber table with ultra soft neutral linen table mats to complement the pretty red and gold edged vintage crockery, brushed gold cutlery, beautiful fleur de lys drinkware, a bunch of the most gorgeous and realistic looking faux peonies in hues of blush, soft mint green and pearlescent ivory in a pretty round glass vase and pale grey dinner candles! I also hung a pretty Christmas wreath with twinkling LED lights from the fence and fillable glass orbs with transparent fishing line from the branches above to create a magical, almost Alice in Wonderland kind of ambience. The entire set-up, once I was organised, took only fifteen minutes to put together including all the fussing and zhoozhing. Voila!

I love how pretty and classy the table looked! Flowers always make any tablescape look special and sophisticated. If traditional red and green is not your thing and you are looking for trendy yet affordable styling inspiration for your Christmas Day table, then I urge you to give this fresh, beautiful and luxurious botanical theme a go! You will not regret it! Other than Christmas parties, this sort of floral table styling also works really well with outdoor tween birthday parties, baby showers, bridal kitchen teas or high tea garden soirées.

And here's a trade secret- add some real foliage to the faux flowers and your guests will never know the difference! Shhhhh! 😉

You could also completely skip the fresh or faux flowers and just decorate the table and place settings with sprigs of eucalyptus or gum tree or even olive branches! The organic raw silvery sage colour palette with brushed gold accessories is so hot right now!
Needless to say the garden soirée was a huge success and we spent a lovely afternoon filled with food, wine, scintillating conversation and laughter! My friends absolutely loved the Eivissa outdoor furniture set, the beautiful floral tablescape, the scrumptious lunch, festive cupcakes and the fabulous company!

Do you often throw garden parties? Do you dress the table and decorate the garden? Do share your tips with all of us.

Next time I'll post photos of another simple yet gorgeous themed tablescape that you can set up under fifteen minutes for a fun brunch or dinner with friends.

Till next time... hope you're inspired to host a garden soirée!

xox
Rani

Thank you to Temple & Webster for providing the Eivissa outdoor dining set. As always, all design choices, words, thoughts and opinions are all mine and genuine and I only ever work with brands that I love and I think you will too. And a huge thank you to all of you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Tips and Tricks to Summer-Proof the Lawn and Garden!

The backyard has always held a special place in the hearts of Australians. They’re the perfect spaces for a quick game of cricket, kicking a ball, wrestling with the kids, playing under the sprinkler or the simple pleasure of entertaining and enjoying the outdoors. Summer is here and it’s time to make the most of our outdoor spaces. Today, Victa ambassador, Adam Woodhams, a garden and lawn professional, shares his tips for the perfect summer lawn and garden.

Despite often being a bit smaller, this precious space is more important to the Aussie lifestyle than ever before. This is reflected in design trends as increasingly the outdoors is seamlessly connected with the indoor living spaces, creating true outdoor rooms. With busy lives comes the appreciation of the important role these spaces play in overall wellness – for fresh air and exercise, relaxing with friends and family, growing organic vegetables, fruits and herbs, or as spaces to retreat to and unwind in.

According to Victa ambassador, Adam Woodhams, a garden and lawn professional, summer is the time we all want to be making the most of our outdoor spaces, but it can also be the time when gardens and lawns demand more of our time in care and maintenance. “There are, however, some simple ways to keep your garden looking brilliant over summer without having to spend every weekend working on it,” he says. “Investing a little time now will reap relaxing rewards throughout summer.”

According to Adam, the lawn can look pretty sad, pretty quickly once the weather warms up, so he’s sharing some easy tricks of the trade to keep the lawn and garden looking superb, even in the peak of the heat.

Get The Perfect Summer Lawn
A lush, green lawn is the perfect backdrop for a summer outdoors and here’s how to get one:

  • Fertilise with quality slow-release lawn food. Feeding is quick, easy and builds a strong lawn that’s more able to resist hot and dry conditions. Use either an organically fortified lawn food or supplement slow-release fertiliser with a seaweed-based product. This helps feed the soil, looking after the all-important soil micro-organisms.
  • Use a quality soil wetter if the lawn is not absorbing water well. Make sure it’s a soil wetter designed for lawns. This will also improve fertiliser absorption and penetration.
  • Don’t mow too low. Scalping stresses the lawn, causes dead spots and actually makes it grow back faster, but weaker. Aim to leave the grass long enough that it feels comfy under bare feet. “The most important thing is to switch your mower to mulch mowing,” says Adam. “Victa makes this easy as many mowers in their range feature their unique mulching blade-disc design for super-efficient mulch-mowing.”
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch. This smart process continuously shreds lawn clippings to super-fine material that is then blown back into the lawn thatch. There, the clippings work like super-fine mulch, helping retain valuable moisture and insulating grass roots from temperature extremes. “These clippings then breakdown very quickly, adding organic matter to the soil,” says Adam. “It’s like giving your lawn a light organic feed every time you mow.”
Mowing in summer will always be more frequent than during the cooler months, so how can it be made to be less of a chore? “When to mow is a question I’m often asked and the answer is simple – early!” says Adam. “I’m a fan of mowing earlier in the day for two reasons; the first is because you’re not pushing a mower around in the heat of the day and, second, it places less stress on the lawn to mow it before the heat hits it.”

Get The Perfect Summer Garden
It’s easy to summer-proof the garden too. The recommended one main task is mulching. “Mulching is the single, simplest sustainable thing you can do in your garden,” he says. “Such an easy task and the benefits are enormous. You’ll reduce the need to water, help retain natural moisture, keep weeds out, cut down soil erosion and, as the mulch breaks down, it adds natural organic matter and nutrients to the soil.”

Adam's top tips for mulching:
  • Feed the garden with a quality controlled release fertiliser and water well before mulching.
  • Remove weeds and lay newspaper (around 4-6 sheets thick) over the area, damping it down as you go, before laying mulch.
  • Spread quality compost or manure before mulching for an extra soil boost.
  • Spread mulch evenly in a layer around 5-8 centimetres thick.
  • Keep mulch away (at least 5cm) from tree trunks or plant stems to avoid rot or insect damage.
  • Water well after mulching.
  • Re-mulch throughout summer. 
Keep your garden, backyard, front lawn and patio plants looking beautiful all summer long with these gardening tips and tricks from the professionals.

Till next time... summer-proof the lawn and garden this weekend!

A big thank you to Adam Woodhams and Victa for providing top professional tips to maintain the lawn and garden this summer.

Victa is a renowned garden and lawn care company with a history spanning 60 years. From humble beginnings in a Concord NSW backyard where it was created in 1952, Victa has expanded to become a global exporter of lawn care products. Today, Victa is owned by the Briggs & Stratton Corporation, a world leading small engine manufacturer and major supplier of engines to Victa. The vast majority of Victa mower products continue to be assembled in Australia at the Moorebank NSW head office. Victa was the winner of the 2013 and 2015 Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brand Award for gardening equipment.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

A Touch Of Christmas Magic In The Bedroom!

I don't want to alarm you but it's the 28th of November!!! There are but a few days left to D-Day! It's unbelievable how fast this year has flown by, isn't it? I remember seeing Christmas decorations in stores as early as mid-October and almost had a panic attack! 😬

We decorate our home twice every year. Once for our quirky, all-out, 'Baby, it's cold outside' Yulefest in July and once for the real 'you can fry an egg on our bed' Christmas in December! Ha! However, before we even put up the tree, I like to decorate our bedroom with festive touches. (Just so we can wake up in a Christmassy mood!)

A pretty wreath, a few Christmas baubles, candles, luxe white linen, a soft throw, a letterboard and my pride & joy, the quintessential festive touch- my red gingham bow cushion that I made myself and you have the makings of an understated yet special festive space!This year my inspiration was the stunning Heritage Spice wreath that I decided to "frame" to create an anchor point above the bed. I love the colour palette I've used- the bright red berries and pomegranates in the wreath were the focal point complemented by the soft red of the bow cushion and offset by the dusky cobalt blue throw. The soft grey feature wall, the darker grey of the euro covers and the pale grey candles all lend a neutrality to the colour scheme. Pristine white bed linen, a textured rug in natural jute, glass baubles, pops of vintage black and a simple touch of festive greenery work well together.I absolutely adore these glass Christmas ornaments. I had ordered them way back in September and have been waiting to use them! You can fill these ultra light glass spheres with little vintage trinkets, greenery and pinecones, fresh or faux flowers, meaningful momentos, Christmas wishes, handmade gifts, glitter, cinnamon sticks or popcorn, a love poem or delicious bonbons and hang them from the Christmas tree or keep a few by the bedside to add that special Christmas touch! You can literally fill them with anything you want or love to match your very own unique Christmas style! And it's a great activity to do with kids!

If you'd like to shop the look, here are the details:
Heritage Spice Wreath
Blue Mohair Throw

You can see last year's festive bedroom here. The date when the post was published just caught my eye - the 28th of November!!! Coincidence much?!

You can see more photos of this year's festive bedroom, Elie's room and more decorating around our home on my Instagram page. Do you decorate your bedroom for Christmas? What festive touches do you add? 

Till next time... from our family to yours, wish you all a happy and safe holiday season and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Charlie Parker: Oozing Raw Luxury!

Today, we're taking a peek into the stunning Art-Deco inspired display suite in the stylish Charlie Parker towers by Coronation Property in the leafy suburb of Harris Park in Sydney. Coronation Property has always been known for its ground breaking designs and Charlie Parker is no different. Inspired by the Art-Deco era, the visually impactful, curved Charlie Parker building is the brainchild of award-winning architects Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt).

The collaborators for this project are Jamie Durie for outdoor areas, Shannon Vos for interior styling (The winner of The Black Glasshouse 2014), and Gillie and Marc (contemporary artists) for the bronze statues that feature in the campaign, many of which will remain on site after the development is completed. 

The impeccably designed display suite styled two ways showcases rich colour, texture and materials throughout the apartment. The furniture and soft furnishings from Globe West create a look of 'raw luxury', with hints of tribal trends, pendant lights, use of rustic timbers and layers of natural textures. The soft colour palette, rich furnishings and the overall styling hints at a subtle playfulness and whimsy and every room weaves a beautiful design story.

I particularly love the over hanging open shelving in the kitchen, reminiscent of Art Deco design with a modern twist! So have a look through the stunning imagery and see if you too like me get a serious case of house envy!
Stylish with an air of raw luxe! What's your verdict?

Till next time... have a lovely day!

xox
Rani
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