One year we were given a loft bedroom that you
couldn't stand up in with no wardrobe space and another chalet only
had 2 bathrooms for 18 occupants. Still, skiers are the kind of people that
can ruff it for most times so its no major hassle.
But what if these kind of deficiencies were commonly
found in ordinary homes in the UK? Surely no one would make such glaring
mistakes on comfort and amenities when extending or developing their own
homes would they?
OK, setting that little seed of doubt lets explore
6 of the most common design mistakes people can make when extending their
homes. Most professional developers understand their market and fail to make
these errors but most ordinary homeowners on the other hand have a totally
different set of criteria and motivations when developing their own homes
which can lead to some costly mistakes.
1. Small kitchens mean small appeal. - Failure
to improve the size and usability of a kitchen to include for an eating area
as well is possibly the most common error. Like all changing lifestyle issues,
you have to differentiate between what are passing fads and long term
preferences. Unless you live in a studio or one bedroom property, having
a larger kitchen with a dedicated eating area for those all important dinner
parties, household hubs and 'show' appeal is one of the most important
alterations or extension you can do to a property. Many people embark on
ground floor extensions aiming for larger living rooms, studies or a dedicated
dining room when the existing kitchen is no more than a 3M x 2M corridor
with cut across access.
2. Ground floor bedrooms to two storey dwellings
- Sometimes people are so desperate for additional bedroom space they
take the cheap option and decide on a ground floor extension. This invariably
leads to poor access to the new room (say from the living room or kitchen
for example) rather than off the main circulation areas such as the hall.
Most people still like to see all bedroom space on the first floor. Unless
the new bedroom is for an elderly or disabled person unable to navigate the
stairs, or your property is a chalet bungalow, it is often best to avoid
ground floor bed space unless the room is flexible for a re-allocated use
3. Loft conversions with inadequate ridge
height - Not all lofts are ideal for conversion. There is a fine line
between a great loft conversion and a poor one. Most loft conversions involve
a delicate balancing act between the new access, usable new space and compromised
existing space. Get one criteria wrong and the whole thing often becomes
a clumsy compromise of no real value. The biggest area of failure often arises
when the ridge height is already quite low. Generally speaking in my opinion
a 3M minimum joist to ridge height needs to be in place for the finished
room(s) to be of a useful height for a functional bedroom for example. Anything
less than 3M ridge height will simply end up as triangular tube with only
being able to stand up in the middle - great for a childs play room but not
for an adult bedroom.
4. The creation of extra space at any cost -
Many homeowners just want the added space and fail to consider some of the
detailed design elements that will make their extended home look good. The
most common error is the simple 'block on the side' two storey side extension
that runs level with the existing front and rear elevation walls. Yes this
maximises the usable inside space but the external effect is to create bland
long wall and roof lines with little interest or relief. It really doesn't
take much effort or sacrifice of space to create a well designed and interesting
extension simply by incorporating some simple design principals such as the
'jut it in and jut it out' approach for the new work were is adjoins the
5. Mis-match of roof pitches - Sometimes
the size of the extension forces a roof design that at first look is unable
to match in with the pitch of the existing roof slopes which is invariable
lower than the original. On most modern housing this can result in an awful
jarring to the eye creating an unbalanced dysfunctional looking property.
Installing matching roof pitches is a major design 'must do' for all extension
developments. A more complicated roof line may have to be provided but in
the end is well worth the effort and cost.
6. The piecemeal extension without upgrading
the existing property - Spending money on an extension when the existing
property is in a spoor state of repair or of limited facilities and failing
to allow money for the upgraded of the existing property to match the new
works is a false economy. Many homeowners who I see live in a property that
could already absorb £30k for repairs, upgrades and alterations in itself
without any extension works but have no intention of allocating resources
for these works while the extension is being built. This simply devalues
the result of the new works and can lead to future problems when eventually
the existing services for example fail and are then difficult to integrate
with the newer built works. Always thinking of the 'whole' dwelling and how
it functions as one unit rather than having a selected piecemeal focus is
the way to go for most development.
Some of these design issues are often now incorporated
within most councils design guides and are prevented from being granted Planning
Permission if prior consent is required.
Our 'Maximum Build
Planning Guide' explains further the issues involved when
developing a property.
This email, its content and any files transmitted
with it are intended solely for the addressee(s) and may be legally privileged
and/or confidential. Access by any other party is unauthorised without
the express written permission of the sender. If you have received this
email in error you may not copy or use the contents, attachments or
information in any way. Please destroy it and contact the sender via
e-mail return. Internet communications are not secure unless protected
using strong cryptography. This email has been prepared using
information believed by the author to be reliable and accurate, but
we make no warranty as to accuracy or completeness. In particular
MSM does not accept responsibility for changes made to this email
after it was sent. Any opinions expressed in this document are those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the company
or its affiliates. They may be subject to change without notice.