2021 – all the drama, all the ideas, all the connections

If I had a plan for this year it went out the window as soon as BoJo closed the schools in January. So here it is, a disjointed run down of 2021, all the drama, all the ideas, all the connections.

  1. January, February, March – working late nights and weekends amidst home-schooling “fun”, the less said about the first part of the year the better!
  1. Spring and freedom finally came around and with it the opportunity to visit some of those lockdown projects I’d missed out on in 2020: Extending an Edwardian Semi, 1930’s home extension: A Place to Eat, Lessons learned on a lockdown build
  1. I blogged for EntreArchitect, the brainchild of Mark R LePage and now a 7000+ strong community of architects worldwide: How to Scale without Growing
  1. Summer saw me busy with builds, supporting clients with their projects under construction. Site meetings scheduled between camping trips and seeing friends who we’d missed out on the year before. With supply chains as unsettled as the weather patterns, delays were inevitable but we got there in the end!
  1. Always looking for the next challenge I settled on a personal one and decided to train for a half marathon, it gave me a focus away from business….work life balance and all that. I ran a 10 miler a few weeks later, once you know you can, you can!
  1. I set some boundaries around meetings, keeping several days free to actually get work done. You make the rules, you break the rules.
  1. I ventured a new offering, my “Briefing and Beginnings workshop” giving families the chance to explore the opportunities and potential of their home with me for a couple of hours.
  1. I made a guest appearance on EntreArchitect’s Context and Clarity daily discussion with Jeff Echols who has hosted the hourly slot daily since the pandemic began and for which many people are grateful.
  1. The beginning of the school year brought back regular working hours and saw me launch a new toolkit of resources for those embarking on, or even midway through their home extension project.  
  1. I wrote 133 social media posts, 19 emails and 9 blogs about things people ask me all the time including: 5 steps to keeping your home renovation costs under control, Do you need more space or just different space? and 5 top tips for a successful extension project
  1. I got to know some of our local builders better and worked with them to deliver projects, in a relatively orderly fashion.
  1. I reconnected with my US based mastermind group, there are some great people out there doing some super interesting things.
  1. I read 14 books, mostly on audible and I have finally got back to fiction with my book club! Here’s what’s been on my reading list:
  • How to break up with your phone, Catherine Price
  • Hope in Hell, Jonathon Porritt
  • The Chimp Paradox, Steve Peters
  • The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
  • The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks
  • The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, Kate Bradbury
  • Company of One, Paul Jarvis
  • The No Spend Year, Michelle McGagh
  • How to Listen, Katie Columbus
  • Running: Cheaper Than Therapy, Chas Newkey-Burden
  • They Ask You Answer, Marcus Sheridan
  • Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
  • Cumulative Advantage, Mark Schaefer
  • Becoming Minimalist, Joshua Becker
  • Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
  1. I embraced an integrated approach to projects with Michael Aubrey Partnership. I wrote a blog about that too: You don’t just need an architect, you need a home extension team
  1. I negotiated with planners, coordinated others, obtained consents.
  1. I did some online learning, attended events and continued on my Carbonlite Retrofit course with the AECB  
  1. And among all that I drew some houses…because that’s what architects do, isn’t it?

If you got to the end of my brain spill, thanks for reading.

2022 here we come, it’s got to be more straightforward than that!

Do you need more space or just different space?

When it comes to creating your dream home, it’s often assumed you’ll extend to achieve that, yet there are so many different avenues you could go down to turn your everyday house into a fab family home.

You might be surprised to hear this, but extending isn’t always the answer. If your house is quite large, or has already been extended, you might have some redundant rooms or spaces, so adding more space isn’t a magic bullet. In fact, assuming you’ve decided to stay put and not move house, your existing property might have everything you need.

Instead of adding new rooms, you could remodel your layout and create larger spaces with structural alterations. 

Or perhaps reconfiguring the layout by swapping the use of some spaces will unlock the functionality you desire. 

But with so many options to consider, how do you figure out what’s right for you and your home?

The importance of briefing

I believe the key to getting it right is not to rush it. Take your time and start by defining the problem, not the solution. This sounds like common sense, but it is so easy to jump straight into solution mode. 

Consider how you use your home, what you like about it, and crucially what’s not working for you at the moment. Take the opportunity to fix those things that bug you, as well as including all those things you want in your dream home. 

Once you have a clear idea of your brief, the right solution will be a lot easier to figure out. When it’s your own home you can get stuck ruminating over the same old solutions and it often takes an outsider to help you unlock what’s most important to you before you can move things forward. 

Along with talking with your family to consider what your needs are, an architect could help by asking some probing questions that you might not have considered before. They will also be very likely to have encountered similar problems with previous clients, so they’ll be able to suggest innovative solutions based on their experience. 

The pitfalls of extending your home

Whilst it’s lovely and in some ways easier to build an extension, the last thing I want is for clients to spend all their time in the new extension and leave the rest of their home unoccupied!

That’s why it’s so important to consider all of the options available, and be sure that you’re making the right choice for you and your home. 

Houses that are already extended are likely to become very dark in the middle if you make them even larger. Take care to avoid simply moving your living areas into a new zone, leaving the middle of the house gloomy and redundant. 

So, if you’ve decided against extending, what else could you do instead?

Be resourceful with the space that you have

Instead of adding an extension, can you reconfigure your existing home to work harder for you and your family? If so, there are so many added benefits to renovating rather than extending.

Whilst renovation can be just as costly as extending, alterations usually require less material so this can be a sustainable choice if you’re concerned about minimising your impact on the environment. Maintaining the same building footprint also has the benefit of avoiding any loss of garden space. 

However, there’s a lot to consider with renovation, so taking the time to come up with a holistic plan for your whole home will always give you the best outcome by far. If you skip this step, you risk having to rework the same areas five or ten years down the line, undoing work and wasting money.

It’s easy to get stuck in the analysis paralysis state, where you don’t know what to do, so you don’t do anything. This is another part of the project where working with an architect is a great way to keep things moving in the right direction. 

Clients often come to me uncertain of how to move forward with homes that are lived (albeit languishing), in a slight state of disrepair. As an architect and problem solver, I love to take the time over this initial briefing to ensure I understand how you live. That way, I can help you to decide if you need more space or just different space.

Finding the solution that’s right for your home

For many renovation projects that I work on, the client will come to me with ideas of what they want, sometimes they even have a solution. I like to challenge that thinking to make sure we’re getting to the nub of the problem, so that I know they’re going to be really happy with the end result. 

Consider this: Do you actually all sit down to breakfast together? Do you have hobbies with large equipment that clutters the hall? Where do you sit to put your shoes on? 

We all have a tendency to think that everyone lives in a similar way to ourselves, but I’ve seen how the same type of house can be occupied in many different ways. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating your dream home so doing what someone else did might not be right for you. 

Instead, taking the time to create a comprehensive plan that considers all of your needs and bugbears means you’ll always end up with a home that you love. 

Choose your next steps with confidence

If you’d like to feel more confident with your renovation, take a look at my toolkit which includes resources to help develop your project brief right, and to help keep your project on track as it progresses.

It’s called From Brief to Budget to Build, and contains some of the super useful stuff I use with my clients in a handy resource bundle. 

In there you’ll find workbook style questions to help you delve into your motivations, priorities and aspirations for your project, a budget planner that considers the costs likely to be involved in your project, and a template to capture the fixtures and finishes details for accurate pricing, and much more. 

Click here to find out more. 

Lessons learned on a lockdown build

Rear of the house before
Rear of the house afterwards

A tired three-bed semi with outbuildings in the garden, and a shabby extension to the rear, this house was in need of some serious TLC. As a growing family, they wanted to create larger bedrooms, more living space and a more open layout that really flowed.

While the project was a success, they faced several challenges throughout. The most significant of these was keeping on top of the implications that various decisions had on total cost. As well as the time and input required for the project when going it alone with the builder.

The client brief

To fulfill the ambition for a larger family home, we planned single and two storey extensions, utilising the footprint of the existing garage to get the most out of the plot. The extended section of the house would include a playroom which can double as a fourth bedroom when required. 

Converting the existing kitchen to a utility room and shower room, we moved the kitchen to the back of the house. And by maintaining side windows and roof lights we were able to keep the central spaces well lit. The new kitchen dining space opens up to the garden and so does the playroom, for an indoor/outdoor feel on warm days.

With a  keen eye for detail and interiors, they have furnished the home with some lovely touches.

The implications of going it alone 

With a lockdown build and a baby on the way, there were a few things which the client admits could’ve gone better to keep her stress levels under control. No matter how well you plan, there are almost always some on-the-spot decisions to be made. On this build, the costs and implications of each decision did not always become apparent until later down the line. 

Without anyone to help, they lost track of these variations as the project progressed and were often surprised to discover them later. Keeping your architect involved or appointing a project manager to monitor those cost implications can help mitigate this. 

Lessons learned in hindsight

Managing your own project takes up a lot of time. They simply hadn’t realised how much attention they would need to give the project and ended up  being far more involved in the running of the project than they had expected to be.

Acknowledging that the never ending decision-making was one of the most stressful aspects of the process, the client explained that if they did it again they would certainly look to keep their architect involved throughout the build.

The completed extension has truly lived up to the client’s brief and provides the spaces they need for their young family. They’re really pleased with the way the house flows, and that the extension integrates well with the existing rooms, feeling like a whole house rather than the extension simply bolted on. A big chunk of the budget was put towards the kitchen, which is a particular favourite of theirs now that it’s completed. 

Project completed Autumn 2020 by PDM Construction Ltd
Suppliers: Kitchen – Mobalpa

Are you ready to extend your home?

There’s a lot to consider when you’re changing  your home. Is extending even right for you and your house?

If you’re looking for clarity on what’s involved in the process and how to get started, you can use my Project Planner to help find the next step… 

Click here for your free copy

Extending an Edwardian Semi

A sizeable semi-detached property, this Edwardian Semi was built for a different way of living. This family of five came to me to help them reconfigure their home for the 21st century.

Setting the Brief

Fed up of squeezing round the low level island for family meals, amidst the clothes washing, it was time for a change. Their requirements were for a large kitchen/dining space for five to cook and eat together, it should be somewhere to entertain. And also a flexible space for working from home, a library, making lego, stuff with glue! They wanted huge doors and windows with character and for the extension to feel solid and part of the original house (not a glass box on the back).

Notwithstanding a 180ft garden, the rear of the house was North facing and they were particularly fond of the South facing courtyard to the side of their house. They already liked to hang out there, despite the “awful concrete garage, we could do without”. We set to work to make this space an integral part of the design. It was to become “a sunny outdoor courtyard for eating alfresco and working outside in the summer” (British weather permitting).

The ground floor had the original kitchen set in middle of the house between large reception rooms to front and rear. It needed a new layout to reconfigure their home for today’s way of living.

Transformation

Extending to the rear and to the side of the house, we created a double aspect kitchen, capturing sunlight from the south side and connecting to the much loved side courtyard, all the better with garage now gone. The old kitchen became the utility room and study, which also opens to this space.

The doors and windows, taller than standard height, have an old steel frame appearance but are actually aluminium frames which are thermally better performing. These were sourced by the client from IQ glass and are a real focal point of the space from both inside and out.

The exposed brickwork within the kitchen retains some character of the original property within the new space and is a beautiful contrast to the otherwise gallery like white space.

Finishing the kitchen just a day before their wedding, a no doubt busy last few weeks, but a wonderful space for an informal reception and a great excuse to invite guests and entertain.

This project completed Summer 2019 and was built by A. Pearce Builders.

Products and Suppliers: Kitchen – Howdens, Pendant Lights – IKEA, Roof lights – Velux, Doors and Windows – IQ Glass.

2020 – What a year!

Far from the doom and gloom that March predicted, 2020 has been real success – here’s how things panned out for me…

(more than) A few wins:

  • I focused on working with clients from concept right through to completion to ensure they get the best outcomes with the least hassle.
  • I blogged regularly on all sorts of topics from Mistakes to Avoid to Lighting and Storage.
  • I started a Facebook group to help people get clued up before you begin.
  • I gained nine 5* Google Reviews.
  • I developed a collaborative approach with structural engineers Michael Aubrey Partnership to bring structural input to the early stages of design. As well as enabling clients to reduce overall project fees by avoiding duplication of effort.
  • I worked with business coach Gemma Gilbert and soaked up her brilliance to get all of the other stuff done.
  • I ran a 100km in October and raised £650 for Breast Cancer Now.

A few challenges:

  • I took on a little too much work, everyone being at home all the time sent enquiries sky rocketing! Fortunately, I was able to work with others to help me deliver it all.
  • I didn’t implement my new CAD software, the task seemed mammoth and I didn’t break it down into small enough chunks.
  • The COVID restrictions meant I wasn’t able to visit previously completed projects as much as I’d hoped to, so the case studies remain outstanding.

What did I learn?

  • That most things are possible if you put your mind to it.
  • That content marketing is actually just about sharing value and connecting with people.
  • That virtual meetings can actually be quite productive and save on travel time!
  • That systems are key to efficiency and I wouldn’t be without Dubsado.
  • That I need a little bit of human support too, and am pleased to be working with Admin Lab helping me keep on top of it all.
  • That maintaining good relationships with contractors is just about picking up the phone.
  • That sending chocolate brownies to clients in the post when they’re having a rough time is always a winner!

What does 2021 hold?

For me 2021 is about changing focus with my project work and bringing energy retrofit to the table alongside extension projects. I want to help people make their homes greener. I’ll be completing the AECB’s Carbonlite Retrofit Course to develop my knowledge in this area and will be seeking clients who are keen to embrace a sustainable design agenda.

I’ll be implementing the new software I’ve been avoiding, by taking it in bite size chunks, and look forward to seeing the benefits it will bring.

Most importantly? I’ll help my clients get their dream homes built.

On reflection

It was far from the easiest year, with our kids home for what seemed like eternity, but somehow all that stuff got done. I’m excited to embark on 2021, but far from wishing 2020 away on reflection it’s been quite a success.

1930’s Home Extension in a 2020 Lockdown Situation

Completed during the COVID lockdown, a few compromises were required to maintain momentum, but they got there in the end. As a client with project management skills in their own field, I wasn’t involved throughout the build, so I visited them back in September to see how it had all turned out.

“Actually having you visit makes us a bit reflective. It’s sometimes hard to appreciate the end result when you’ve lived through it but looking back it’s quite the transformation actually.”

Motivation

With a tight kitchen and an under used separate dining room, the initial motivation for this project was to create a larger open plan kitchen dining space. The addition of a seating area, ground floor loo and utility room, brings this three bed 1930’s home up to speed with a more contemporary way of living.

Conscious that we were chopping and changing the original layout, we chose to push all the beams up into the ceiling void, with the benefit being that the new spaces flow from the old house right into the extension without interruption.

When you think that the whole of the kitchen used to be in what is now the utility room and ground floor loo, it’s amazing to see the difference. The new kitchen is spacious and bright, with the dining table serving unexpected dual purpose as a work from home space as the world of work continues to evolve beyond the initial project brief.

A challenging journey

Whilst the spring lockdown stopped the building work initially, it soon resumed with the construction industry carrying on as near to normal as possible. However, temporary closure of builders merchants, and paused manufacturing of some key elements, did impact the project:

“We had to change the doors and windows from aluminum to PVC because during the lockdown we couldn’t get them supplied from the people we wanted to. It was a decision we made because we didn’t want our build to take another two months.”

“We had some unexpected challenges with the kitchen installation but the end result is great. The flooring came from an online supplier because we couldn’t visit any showrooms at the time.” Having lived through every minute of the project, being at home throughout the build, my clients were somewhat relieved when it all came together at the end, after several months of washing up in the bath.

Transformation

Despite the challenges along the way, the finished extension is a real transformation from how the house used to be: “We’re really pleased with how it’s turned out, we basically live in the extension now”. The original front room which was retained can double as a spare room for guests in the future, and for now, provides a space for some privacy away from the open plan rear of the house.

We talked about some of the smaller things that make a big difference to how the house functions now and I was pleased to see that these design elements had been retained and not omitted in lieu of cost savings. Both daylight and artificial light being important considerations:

“Having the roof light in the utility room makes such a huge difference for what is essentially an indoor room, we now have daylight and ventilation here, we chose to opt for the roof light with electrical operation, which has been really good on some hot days.”

“We really like having our lights on different circuits so that we can create different moods”

Overcoming the cramped feel of a “kitchen made for one”, the new space is generous and somewhere to be enjoyed together, and eventually with family and with friends.

Building work completed summer 2020 by Steve Tyler and Sons Builders.

Products and Suppliers: Pendant lights – John Lewis, Kitchen – Wren.

Where’s the Fish Tank?

“Where’s the fish tank?” I asked. It was one of the things I remembered from the old dining room. I suddenly realised that we hadn’t planned a spot for it in the new extension. Sadly, (although somewhat to my relief) the fish had not survived the building work. I felt somehow thankful that they did not need a space for the tank, but also guilt at my relief! I made a mental note to add ‘fish tank’ to my project checklist, it would be there along with cat flap, and the myriad of other things that need to be considered. I would not want to forget the fish tank again.

Not to downplay the loss of a pet(s), but the sadness was quickly replaced with a sense of pride from visiting the finished home (and envy – I wanted to move in!). I entered into the new extension on a sunny Monday morning after the school run – it was bright, spacious, beautifully furnished by my client – with great eye for detail.

Catalyst: A Bigger Bedroom

When I met my clients back in 2018, the original brief had been to create a larger third bedroom for their son – to extend above the existing dining room extension. Their 1960’s home had good sized rooms, albeit the third bedroom being on the smaller side. Once the process began, the realisation dawned that if you’re going to do building work, you’ll probably only want to do it once. With that, the scope expanded to extend the ground floor and renovate the kitchen as well, they wanted a space to entertain especially for family at Christmas.

Before it all began

Journey: Some Twists and Turns

With a revised brief for a larger project we set off on a journey which had its twists and turns. A hundred year old oak tree in the front garden and the house having been previously underpinned due to subsidence added some complexity to an otherwise straightforward project; the structural engineer designed for piled foundations. The need for a specialist piling contractor alongside a general builder made for additional coordination.

Result: A Space to Entertain

Obstacles overcome, the outcome is lovely, a space for the family to enjoy and to entertain. The only downside being that COVID has limited their potential for visitors, but this will no doubt be a great entertaining space when the time comes.

The ‘slide and fold’ doors across the width of the space, adding elegance with their slim frames. The internal bi-fold doors between lounge and dining bring flexibility for open plan or closed off living. The roof lights enhance the dining space, bringing light from above. Upstairs, in the two-storey part of the extension, the enlarged third bedroom had been commandeered as the master, with a walk through dressing area adding some glamour.

“The house is finished and we love it!” That’s the feedback I love to hear. And whilst the end result is very much the point of hiring an architect, it’s good to have positive feedback on the journey to get there as well:

Carly was sympathetic to our needs, very organised, has great communication skills and went above and beyond when working with contractors. She made the whole process as seamless as possible and we stayed on budget throughout. We are extremely pleased with the service she provided and are really pleased with our 2-storey extension.

Building Work completed early 2020 by Duncan Crawford.

Products and Suppliers: Kitchen – Howdens, Worktop – Rocktops, Kitchen Flooring – Amtico, Pendant Lights – Koltrane Lighting , Bedroom Flooring – Quick Step LVT, Rooflights – Velux, Slide and Fold Doors – Sunseeker Doors, Internal Bi-fold Doors – Todd Doors.

How do the kids feel about extending your home?

Change can be challenging, especially with kids, here’s why involving your kids can be an important step when undertaking an extension project. I sought some expert advice on how best to approach things…

Excitement

It’s exciting isn’t it? Planning an extension project. You’re going to change the way you live, overcome those awkward parts of your home, improve functionality, create more together space and bring harmony to family life… well that’s the plan!

How do the kids feel about it? Have you asked them? Maybe they’re excited too or possibly a little bit worried. Getting a new bedroom sounds like fun doesn’t it, but have any of you thought about the disruption you’ll go through before the flat pack furniture building begins?

There are hundreds of decisions required to build your new home and whilst you might want to involve the children with some of them, you’re likely to overwhelm them if you use them as a sounding board for every last fixture and fitting.

Disruption

Children, on the whole are pretty adaptable but if you don’t help them through it then you might find the build phase more stressful than you’re expecting. Working around less space and a temporary kitchen is an obstacle, but can be overcome. Living together in just half of your rooms whilst the others are knocked about is only fun for a little while. Everything takes time.

Dust gets everywhere. You can tape things up as much as you like, but it will be settling for months afterwards, so there’s no escaping it. Construction is also very noisy and if you’re going to be around during the daytime you might find this quite the distraction. Perhaps moving out is an option, but there might be a cost with that. If you are planning to “live on a building site”, it’s important that you understand the risks and that you communicate with your builder’s team to ensure that you are able to keep the children safe.

Strategy

Starting right from the outset before the build commences, how can you manage this changing time with the kids? What can you do to help them feel excited whilst at the same time building resilience to cope with an unusual situation? I spoke to Sarah Billingham of Confident Kids, a specialist teacher who had this advice:

“Whenever there is going to be a big change for children, we tend to jump into telling them all of the things that will be different. Instead, start by telling them what will be the same so that they have some sense of familiarity. Slowly introduce them to the things which will be different so that they have the opportunity to process each aspect without becoming overwhelmed. One of my favourite ways to explore the topic of change is to share stories together on the topic of the change ahead (in this case- building houses!). This helps children to get a sense of what to expect and the equipment they might see. Children can explore and talk about the change in a non-threatening way. “

What your Conservatory is saying is “Replace me”!

Conservatory: lovely concept but far too hot in summer, too cold in winter. Terrible thermal performance is the number one reason to get rid of it, that’s what it’s trying to tell you! But take care not to replace it with an extension that is glazed to the extent that the same problems might persist.

Poor Performance

Designing a new extension to replace a conservatory is a brief I’m commonly presented with. The main reason cited for replacing it is always poor thermal performance, don’t get me wrong – conservatories have their place but they aren’t very functional for year round family living and if yours is a dumping ground for toys and garden paraphernalia, fear not – there are others out there just like you.

That said, there are some huge advantages in terms of light that come from a fully glazed room. And in replacing a conservatory it’s often the case that you’ll want to go for as much glass as you can, which could in turn perpetuate the same conditions. Fortunately, the Building Regulations have some criteria to help you avoid this in terms of amount of glazing that is permitted before you reach a tipping point. After which you’re required to mitigate your excess glass by “over insulating” other components to compensate, although this is more in relation to heat loss than solar gains.

There are lots of options including triple glazing and solar control coatings to help improve the performance of your glazing and the orientation of your building will be a key factor too. The angle of the sun comes into play somewhat in the UK where it’s low and weak in the winter (desirable) but high and hot in the summer (problematic). If your main elevation is south or west facing, you’ll need to consider the design quite carefully to avoid overheating in the summer months. Solar shading in the form of a roof overhang or vertical fin might be an appropriate solution.

Panorama Overdose

Rarely do people say “I want to replace my conservatory becayse I hate looking at my garden”. But it’s worth considering, do you want to look out on all of your garden or just the best bits?

Frame a view of something worthwhile, mask out the ugly bits. Yes, the apple blossom is nice but do you want to look out at your knickers on the washing line when you’re sat on the sofa… when your friends have popped round to admire your lovely new extension? Maybe not.

It’s also worth considering that floor to ceiling glass can play havoc with your furniture layout, see also Is Open Plan Always The Answer? where it turns out walls have their place.

Everybody loves good neighbours

“We know them really well, they’ll be fine with it”

That’s what I commonly hear when I ask how the neighbours will react to the plans for extending your home. It’s amazing how perception can sometimes be so far from reality and that’s why chumming up with your neighbours in advance of your building work is a strategic move.

Think about it, how would you feel if you saw your neighbours and their architect in the back garden waving their arms about, talking about building close to the boundary? You’d be twitching your metaphorical net curtains and perhaps rightly so. Generally people are resistant to change and predictably irrational if they don’t know what to expect.

Neighbours have the potential to make your journey from concept to completion a little bumpier that you might like, from Planning objections to Party Wall dissents they can throw more than a single spanner in the works. And whilst neighbourly Planning objections are sometimes discounted unless they’re made on policy grounds, it still doesn’t set you up for a very comfortable year ahead. Here are some tips on how to keep things on track:

5 Top Tips for Smooth Neighbourly Relations

  1. Inform them: well ahead of getting yourself an architect – let them know you’re thinking about extending, perhaps ask if they’ve also considered doing the same.
  2. Listen to them: are they concerned? If so, what in particular is an issue for them? When you come to appoint an architect, let them know about it so that they can consider how best to alleviate their concerns as well as meeting your brief.
  3. Share with them: once you’ve developed your ideas and have your plans ready – share with them, ahead of making a Planning application. There’s nothing neighbours like less than being ambushed. The local authority will let them know you’ve made an application, so get in before they hear it from somebody else.
  4. Involve them: dependent on the scale of proposals and whether it does impact them in anyway, you might consider tweaking your proposals a little in response to their concerns. I’ve had several meetings where getting client’s neighbours round for a cuppa has allowed us to mitigate any objections by simply taking their concerns on board in the first place.
  5. Manage their expectations: let them know when you anticipate the building work to be, let them know ahead of time that you’ll be sending a Party Wall Notice and what the process is.

It’s not about designing your extension by committee, and it’s not about foregoing your own aspirations to please the neighbours, but as with most things in life, communication is key to success.