What Are the First Steps in Planning a Home Extension?

by | Jan 9, 2024 | Uncategorized

When thinking about making our homes bigger, many of us dream of adding something new, like a big, bright kitchen or an extra bedroom for a growing family. Starting a home extension project can feel as big as building a whole house, and it’s normal to feel a bit scared at first. In Ireland, about 90% of the requests to build extensions are approved. This means that, with good planning, your dream extension is very likely to happen

We understand the importance of getting each step right from the beginning. This guide will help you navigate the initial decisions, such as budgeting, scheduling, understanding regulations, and working with qualified professionals. By focusing on these key areas, you can lay a strong foundation for your home extension project, making your dream addition both realistic and attainable. So, let’s guide you through the first important steps. You’ll need to think about your budget.

Before You Start Your Home Extension Project

Before embarking on your home extension project, it’s important to consider extended timeframes and be realistic about your budget. Understand the costs involved and financing options available, determine who will project manage, and communicate with neighbors to comply with regulations.

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Consider extended timescales

Building a home extension is like going on a long trip. You need to think about how much time you’ll be on the road. Sometimes, projects take longer than we first expect. Permits might get delayed, or the weather could slow down construction.

We must plan for extra weeks, maybe even months, just to be safe.

We make sure our schedules can handle any surprise waits without causing too much trouble. It helps us keep calm when things don’t move as fast as we hoped. That way, we enjoy making our homes bigger and better at a good pace that works for everyone involved!

Be realistic about budget

When budgeting for a home extension, it’s essential to be practical. Consider the potential expenses involved in construction, design, and professional services. Take into account unforeseen costs and set aside a contingency fund to cover unexpected expenses that may arise during the project.

It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your financial capacity and seek out realistic financing options if necessary. Research and obtain quotes from different professionals and suppliers to ensure you have an accurate picture of the overall cost.

Understand that building projects often come with additional expenses beyond the initial quote, so being realistic about your budget will help you avoid financial stress as the project progresses.

Understand costs and financing options

When planning a home extension, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the costs and financing options. Consider your budget realistically and explore different financing avenues such as personal savings, loans, or equity release.

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Get quotes from multiple builders and tradespeople to set a realistic budget based on the actual costs involved in construction. Take into account additional expenses like architectural design fees, building permits, and potential unexpected costs that may arise during the project.

Communicate with neighbors about your plans to avoid any party wall agreement issues that could impact your project financially. Understanding all the potential costs and financing options will help you plan your home extension project effectively while avoiding financial stress throughout the process.

Determine who will manage project

Decide who will lead the project. Choose someone organised and reliable. They should oversee the timeline, budget, and communication with professionals. Make sure they understand building regulations and can handle any issues that may arise.

Assign clear roles to everyone involved. Ensure good communication among all team members. This person will be vital in keeping everything on track from start to finish, making sure your home extension goes smoothly.

Communicate with neighbours and comply with regulations

When planning a home extension, it’s important to communicate with your neighbours about the upcoming construction. Discussing your plans with them can help avoid potential conflicts and build good relations.

Additionally, make sure to comply with local building regulations and zoning laws. This will ensure that your extension meets all the necessary requirements and avoids any legal issues down the line.

Keeping open lines of communication and adhering to regulations can streamline the process and create a smoother experience for everyone involved.

As you plan your home extension, remember that communicating effectively with neighbours and following regulations is crucial in creating a positive environment for your project. Clear communication helps to minimise disruptions, while complying with regulations ensures a smooth approval process from local authorities.

Planning the Build

When planning the build, it’s important to determine the purpose of the extension, consider storage needs, and think about the desired atmosphere. Factor in natural light and plan for furniture placement to ensure a seamless integration with your existing home.

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Determine the purpose of the extension

When planning your home extension, it’s crucial to be clear about the purpose of the extra space. Will it be a larger kitchen for family gatherings, an additional bedroom for guests, or a dedicated office space? Understanding this will help guide the design and layout decisions and ensure that the extension meets your specific needs.

It’s also important to consider how the new space will integrate with your existing home to create a seamless flow throughout. By defining the purpose from the outset, you can make informed choices about features, layout, and finishes that align with your vision.

Consider how you want to use this new area and what activities will take place there regularly. This understanding will influence factors such as natural light requirements, furniture placement options, storage needs, and the desired atmosphere in order to achieve a functional and welcoming extension.

Consider storage needs

When planning a home extension, think about the storage space you need. Factor in things like built-in wardrobes, shelving units, and other storage solutions that can help keep your new extended space organised and clutter-free.

Careful consideration of your storage needs will contribute to creating a functional and enjoyable living environment for you and your family.

Also, plan for any specific storage requirements based on the purpose of the extension. Whether it’s a new bedroom, kitchen, or living area, ensuring adequate storage options will enhance the usability and overall appeal of your extended space.

Think about desired atmosphere

Once you’ve considered the storage needs for your home extension, it’s crucial to think about the desired atmosphere. Consider how you want the new space to feel and function. Will it be a cosy family room, a bright and airy office, or a tranquil retreat? Think about the lighting, colour scheme, and overall ambiance you want to create.

This will help guide decisions on layout, decor, and finishing touches as you plan your extension.

Consider consulting with an interior designer or architect to help bring your vision to life while taking into account practical considerations like natural light and ventilation. By considering the desired atmosphere early in the planning process, you can ensure that every aspect of your home extension aligns with creating the perfect environment for your needs.

Factor in natural light

When planning your home extension, consider natural light to create a bright and inviting atmosphere. Assess the direction of sunlight throughout the day to determine how it will enter your space.

Position windows and doors strategically to maximise natural light while maintaining privacy. Utilise skylights or roof windows to bring in additional daylight without compromising wall space.

Adequate natural light not only enhances the aesthetics of your extension but also contributes to energy efficiency by reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.

As Irish homeowners, we understand that maximising natural light is crucial in our climate. It can uplift our mood and improve our well-being while adding warmth and character to our homes.

Plan for furniture placement

When planning the placement of furniture in your home extension, first consider the purpose and layout of the new space. Take into account any existing furniture that will be moved or replaced.

Think about how you want to use the extended area—for example, as an open living space, a dining room, or a home office. Consider factors such as traffic flow and access to natural light when deciding where to place furniture.

Planning ahead ensures that your new extension is not only functional but also comfortable and visually appealing.

Additionally, it’s important to measure the dimensions of your new extended space accurately before buying any new furniture items. This will help prevent purchasing pieces that are either too big or too small for the area.

It’s also wise to think about storage options within your design plans; perhaps built-in shelves or cabinets can maximise space while keeping things organised. When considering seating areas, ensure they are positioned in a way that encourages conversation and interaction with other parts of the room.

Hiring Professionals

Finding a reputable architect and obtaining the necessary calculations are crucial steps in planning a home extension. Choosing a builder and other tradespeople, obtaining quotes, and setting a budget are also important aspects to consider during this stage of the process.

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Finding a reputable architect

When looking for an architect, it’s important to seek recommendations from friends or family members who have completed similar projects. Additionally, you can check online directories and review websites for architects with positive feedback.

Start by shortlisting a few architects based on their experience in home extension projects, accreditation, and expertise in building design. Meeting with them to discuss your ideas and assess if they align with their portfolio is essential before making a decision.

Remember that the architect will be a key partner throughout your home extension project, so it’s crucial to choose someone you feel comfortable working with and who understands your vision for the project.

Obtaining necessary calculations

When planning a home extension, it’s important to obtain the necessary calculations for your project. This includes getting accurate measurements of the area you plan to extend and consulting with a structural engineer if needed.

Additionally, you should also calculate the estimated costs involved in the construction process based on current building costs and property values in your area. Seeking professional advice can help ensure that your budget planning is realistic and that you have a clear understanding of the financial aspects of your home improvement project.

Moving forward to “Choosing a builder and other tradespeople”, finding reputable professionals for your home extension is crucial to ensuring a successful construction process.

Choosing a builder and other tradespeople

When choosing a builder and other tradespeople for your home extension project, it’s important to do thorough research. Look for reputable professionals with experience in construction planning and home renovation.

Obtain multiple quotes to compare costs and ensure they align with your budget. Check their credentials, ask for references, and enquire about their familiarity with building codes and zoning regulations.

Project management skills are crucial when hiring these professionals; opt for individuals or teams who demonstrate strong project management capabilities.

Additionally, consider the compatibility of the tradespeople with the vision you have in mind for your home extension. Clear communication is vital throughout the process, so choose builders and tradespeople who listen attentively to your needs and are willing to collaborate effectively.

Obtaining quotes and setting a budget

To ensure your home extension stays within budget, start by obtaining quotes from multiple builders and tradespeople. Look for a reputable architect who can provide accurate cost estimates and design plans.

Discuss financing options with your bank or financial advisor to understand the best way to fund your project. Setting a realistic budget upfront will help you stay on track during the entire remodeling process.

When setting your budget, remember to consider not only the build costs but also any additional expenses such as permits, fees, and potential unexpected costs that may arise during the project.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

We’ll discuss the common mistakes to avoid when planning a home extension, so you can make informed decisions for your project. Read on to learn more about how to plan your home extension.

Lack of purpose for the extension

When planning a home extension, it’s crucial to have a clear purpose in mind. Without a specific goal for the extended space, you may end up with an addition that doesn’t truly meet your needs.

Whether it’s creating extra living space, adding a new bedroom, or expanding your kitchen, defining the purpose from the outset will help guide all aspects of the project and ensure that it fulfills its intended function.

Without a clear purpose for your extension, you run the risk of investing time and money into something that ultimately doesn’t enhance your home or lifestyle. By establishing a clear vision for what you want to achieve with the extension, you can make informed decisions about design, layout, and features to create a space that adds genuine value to your home.

Inadequate storage solutions

When planning a home extension, it’s crucial to think about storage needs. Inadequate storage solutions can lead to clutter and disorganisation, impacting the functionality of the new space.

Consider incorporating built-in storage options such as shelving, cabinets, or under-seat storage to maximise the use of space while keeping items neatly tucked away.

Additionally, bespoke storage solutions tailored to your specific requirements can ensure that every inch of the extended area is utilised efficiently. By addressing this aspect early in the planning process and integrating smart storage solutions into your design, you can create a seamless and practical extension that meets your family’s needs for years to come.

Neglecting desired atmosphere

When planning your home extension, it’s crucial not to overlook the desired atmosphere you want to create in the new space. The ambiance of a room can significantly impact how you and your family feel within it.

Consider factors such as lighting, color schemes, and the overall look and feel when envisioning the atmosphere you want to achieve for your extended space. Incorporating these elements into your planning process will help ensure that the new extension aligns with your vision for a comfortable and inviting living area.

Remember, creating the right atmosphere involves thinking about how the space will function and feel on a day-to-day basis. Use design elements like windows or skylights strategically to bring in natural light, choose paint colors that promote relaxation or productivity depending on the room’s purpose, and select furniture that complements the desired mood of each area.

Not enough or too much natural light

When planning a home extension, it’s crucial to think about natural light. Not enough light can make the new space feel dark and gloomy. On the other hand, too much light can cause overheating and glare.

This may affect the overall comfort of the extended area. Balancing natural light is key to creating a welcoming and functional space that you’ll enjoy throughout the day.

Moving on to the next point about “Poor integration with existing house”..

Poor integration with existing house

When considering a home extension, it’s crucial to ensure that the new addition seamlessly integrates with the existing structure. This involves matching the architectural style and external materials to maintain visual harmony.

The interior layout should flow naturally from the existing space, creating a cohesive and unified appearance throughout the house. Prioritise continuity in design elements such as flooring, fixtures, and colour schemes to avoid disjointed transitions between old and new spaces.

By focusing on integration, you can create an extension that feels like a natural part of your home rather than an awkward afterthought.


Planning a home extension involves careful consideration of timescales, budgets, and project management. It is important to determine the purpose of the extension, including storage needs and the desired atmosphere.

Hiring reputable professionals, such as architects and builders, is crucial for a successful project. Avoiding common mistakes like neglecting natural light or poor integration with the existing house will lead to a more satisfactory outcome.

These practical steps can significantly impact the success of your home extension project. For further guidance on home extensions, consider consulting with experienced professionals like New Century.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do first when planning a home extension?

The first steps include thinking about what you need from your extension, looking at the space where it will go, and deciding on the roof design.

2. Do I need to check the rules before building my home extension?

Yes, you must look into planning permissions and building regulations to make sure your home extension follows the law.

3. How can I choose the right roof for my home extension?

Think about how the new roof will match your current house, and talk with professionals about different roof designs.

4. Should I talk with my neighbours before starting my home extension?

It’s a good idea to tell your neighbours early, as this can help avoid any problems or surprises later on during construction.

5. How can I ensure my home extension matches the style of my existing house?

To ensure your home extension matches the existing style, focus on using similar materials and architectural details. Consult with an architect or designer to harmonize the new structure with your current home’s design and aesthetics.

6. What are the key considerations for ensuring the functionality of a new home extension?

Key considerations for a functional home extension include assessing the intended use of the space, ensuring adequate natural light and ventilation, and incorporating efficient storage solutions. Also, consider the flow of the space and how it integrates with the rest of your home.