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The Hidden Costs of Renovation

Wednesday, 21st May 2014

Categories: Sales Miscellaneous

Author: Kris White

Move or improve? It’s the eternal question facing homeowners who are looking for more space but don’t necessarily want to entertain the thought of moving. If you already live in your dream location, your kids are settled in the local school, and the thought of another round of stamp duty, conveyancing fees and packing boxes fills you with dread, extending might seem like the obvious solution.

However, moving upwards or outwards isn’t always the most economical option: you need to choose your project, your builders and your budget very carefully before you leap into a loft extension or spread out into your side return. While bricks and mortar won’t leave you broke, there are plenty of other costs that you might not have factored in from the outset.


Most building projects will require technical drawings and this generally means getting an architect involved. Some architects work on a percentage basis and will take you through the whole planning process, while others will supply drawings for a set fee. Whichever option you choose, be prepared to empty your wallet to the tune of £1,000 upwards.

Structural engineer

If your building work involves steel or beam work, you will need precise calculations in order for the building contractor to order the correct materials. These calculations are based on the existing measurements of the property and changes that are being made. A structural engineer might charge anything between £500 and £1,000 to put together calculations for the steels and beams for a loft conversion or a rear extension.

Building Control

Most building work attracts a fee from Building Control – the amount dependant on the type and scale of work. This covers site visits and sign-offs on the works from the local Building Control Officer, as well as the administration costs for processing your application. As a rough guide, a loft conversion will incur a fee of approximately £700. If you’re submitting a full planning application, you will also have to factor in a hefty fee for this as well.


Rear extensions and side returns also pique the interest of the local water board and yes, you’ve guessed it, more fees are involved. If you intend to build close to, or over, a public sewer, you are liable to pay a ‘build over’ fee, which varies depending on the size of the sewer. You will also need to submit detailed drawings of your plans in relation to the sewer to show how you will protect the drains.

It’s vital to factor in all these extra expenses when putting together your budget, as you don’t want to start work only to realise halfway through that you will need to sacrifice those bi-fold doors or the granite work surfaces in order to pay for fees.