Pauline and Alan’s case study is not one of those which went through without a hitch. In fact, a project which should have taken 3 months to complete took almost exactly a year.
Pauline and Alan have a 4 bedroomed detached house which would be ample for most people! However, as Pauline was expecting her 4th baby and Alan was going to work from home, they needed an extra bedroom and a study downstairs. They looked at moving house but the actual house would cost at least another £50,000 and then add on the moving costs it wasn’t really feasible.
They looked into the possibility of extending to the side of their property, where they currently had a wooden play house. They asked for 2 architects to come around and give them advice and a quote. They decided on one of them who proposed an extension that would give an 8ft by 14ft room downstairs and a slightly smaller bedroom upstairs. Access was not a problem as they already had a window upstairs at the side. This could easily be converted into a doorway.
Plans were drawn up and planning permission given. Building regulations also went through without any problems. They found a couple of builders who had been recommended by friends and obtained quotes from both. The quote was to include replacing the wooden windows in the main part of the house with double glazed UPVC. The quotes arrived and were similar – around £20,000. They found out that both builders stated they were members of the Federation of Master Builders. However, when they checked one was and the other was not. They decided to use the one who was a member. They obtained a contract from the FMB which they would ask the builder to sign. They also opted for the guarantee that can be purchased which acts in a similar way to the NHBC guarantee for the extension. It would cover them for 10 years.
Work started and they were given a rough finish date 3 months hence. The builder started to dig the foundations. This in itself seemed to take a long time – over 2 weeks. Then the problem occurred. The foundations of the main house were deeper than standard. A small hole 2 metres deep was dug and still the bottom of the main foundations were not found. The council buildings inspector was called in for advice. They suggested a special floating type of foundation which is made of reinforced concrete. This would mean that a shallower hole could be used, though extra cost would be incurred with the metal work in the concrete. This was completed.
Then Pauline and Alan received the bill. An extra £8000 was being asked by the builder. The figures given on the bill did not match with what had happened. Extras skips were being charged for, when he had dug a smaller hole than his original plan. Hours worked did not seem to add up. Pauline and Alan commented on the figures but the builder insisted that they were correct. After several weeks of argument, quantity surveyors were brought in by both sides to decide how much should be paid. By this stage the builder had walked off site and left the couple with nothing but a concrete floor, and a 3ft high brick wall. Finally, an amount was settled upon and paid.
The problem was that Pauline and Alan now had to find a new builder who would take on the project. This was difficult as most builders in the area were very busy. Eventually, they found one who would start in a month’s time. He would be working on two projects at once so there was no guarantee how long the project would take.
Work restarted, but some of the brick work had to be taken down and rebuilt. The new chimney was also not the correct size and had to be redone.
Work continued very slowly over the next few months. Before the work had started, Pauline said as long as it’s finished before the baby comes everything will be alright. However, the new arrival came and still the building work wasn’t finished.
Almost a year to the day, the extension was finished. New windows were put in the main house and decorating was completed. Alan moved into his new office and their oldest daughter moved into the new bedroom upstairs.
So, what was there overall impression of having an extension? Yes, they are pleased with what they have now. A five bedroomed house with a good sized study and a real fire with chimney, for a lot less expense compared to moving. But, whether they would have another extension. I think the answer is a definite NO.