Archive for July, 2013

Into the breach – why the best-laid plans still need permission!

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Home Improvements – Planning Permission – get it right!

It seems that the proof isn’t so much in the pudding as in the planning when it comes to a spot of home improvement!

Homeowners in the UK have shelled out more than £6bn on unauthorised home improvements in the last five years, with one in 10 bending the rules to get thehouse of their dreams.

Home Improvements Cardiff

Insurance firm LV= has discovered that home improvements in a tenth of homes in the UK contravene building regulations, from simple drainage projects to complete house renovations.

Home Improvements-Check Planning Permission and Building Regs

Builders and surveyors claim that building regs are commonly being flouted, with a staggering 26% of those surveyed saying they had seen extensions where a breach had occurred. One in five builders and surveyors have come across loft conversions where building regs had not been followed, and 14% had seen walls taken down and chimneys and fireplaces removed without the regulations being adhered to. Eight per cent were aware of rule-breaking conservatories and more than three per cent had seen unauthorised rooms created out of cellars and basements.

In the same five-year period, 176,000 homeowners have been ordered to rectify building work which flouted the rules, whilst one in five had had a retrospective planning application turned down.

Cardiff home improvementsHome improvement has been seen as a solution to the economic downturn, with many homeowners unable to move or trapped in negative equity. But planning regulations are often viewed as confusing, and this is not helped when planning laws change. In September 2012, the government announced that homeowners would soon be able to extend detached homes by 8m and non-detached houses by 6m without the need for planning permission.

This was intended as good news. But a fifth of those who have carried out major work since the announcement believe that the changes are already in effect, and anyone who has carried out work without planning permission might have to get it reversed if they can’t get permission retrospectively.

Home Improvements-  Ignore Planning Permission At Your Peril!

Conversion and extension projects might also lead to other problems. Carrying out work at your property might well affect your insurance policy, yet 47% of homeowners did not tell their insurers about the changes.

LV= home insurance MD John O’Roarke said: “Many homeowners are choosing to improve or extend their homes as they are unable to move or choose not to, but have little understanding of the ‘red tape’ involved with building work.

“Breaching building regulations or planning rules can lead to hefty fines or an order to reverse any offending work. Those intending to make substantial changes to a property should consult their local authority for advice on the rules and inform their insurer of their plans to ensure they have adequate cover in place should the worst happen.”

Despite the confusion, extending your home or converting a space does not have to be complicated. Decide what you want to do and chat to a reputable local builder, as well as your local planning officer, about any home improvements you plan to carry out.


How To Build An Orangery

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Why Build An Orangery?

Deciding to build an orangery is a fantastic step towards  achieving your dream home.

With house extensions rising in popuhow to build an orangery to create more living spacelarity due to it’s cost effective method of  up-sizing your property, orangeries and conservatories are quickly becoming one of the most sought after home conversions.

But how do you build an orangery?

An orangery is a ground floor extension that is usually added to the rear of the building. Built using around 50% bricks and 50% windows, and often resembling a glass extension.

Orangeries differ from conservatories in many aspects including their looks, roofing and the material used to build them.

Financially, extending your home by building an orangery makes sense as ,in the current climate, we all have the need for more space but with our pockets feeling significantly lighter, moving house to create more living space, can be only a dream to most.

Orangeries and conservatories not only add that much needed space, they also add significant financial value to your home, and so if you decide to sell up, your property will be more appealing to prospective buyers than it was before.

 Points To Consider When You Build An Orangery

Why build an orangery?

Choosing an orangery can open up your home to many new possibilities as there is so much potential for extensions like these.

As with all home improvements, there are a number of administrative and logistical duties for you to consider when you build an orangery as an extension to your home.

We always recommend that you start on your homework early as it usually saves a mighty headache and a whole lot of stress.

We’ve come up with these handy tips and pieces of advice for you to think about when considering to build an orangery:

  • What will I use my orangery for? – Orangeries are extremely versatile areas and there are countless possibilities as to how you can use this newly acquired space. Many people use their orangeries as dining rooms, play rooms or home offices looking out to their back garden along with many also using this as an opportunity to extend their kitchens and dining space. Orangeries are a clever and stylish way to change the shape of your property so take this into consideration when deciding on your orangery design.
  • What style would suit my home? – Orangeries can be designed and tailor made to cater for  your own personal requirements and most reputable builders will be able offer to build a bespoke orangery for you  to take into account your preferences.
  • If you have a new build and are looking to build an organery into your home, then you would probably be looking at a contemporary and practical design with lots of light.  Or if you have an older home then you would need to add some more traditional character to your property with ornate details and bespoke windows. The look of an orangery should be an organic flowing extension with similar – if not the same – brickwork and windows to your property’s.
  • Find the right people for the job – As orangeries are a specialised build, start researching experts in your area to build an orangery for you. Seek out the best architects, builders and engineers and compare quotes, services and time-frames. This is a vital part of the planning stage as you will be working very closely together and you will be relying on their expertise to make your project a success.
  • Budgeting – For a task this size, budgeting is a must as orangeries tend to be expensive. With this in mind, make sure you start to budget as soon as you decide on what you are looking for. Be very thorough with figures and triple check what you can afford. Be frugal but responsible and don’t become too ambitious – consult your professional team who can advise on what will be suitable for your house along with helping you  set a realistic budget.
  • Time frame – Building an orangery will take longer to complete compared to other extensions such as conservatories and garage conversions. This is due to the nature of the work – you wil, in effect, be extending an existing room or creating a brand new one, so this will be a reasonably major project in terms of time and money. With this in mind, it’s best to schedule a time that fits in well with your day to day life – so don’t schedule a time when you’ll be off on holiday!

How Much Does It Cost To Build An Orangery?

Orangery costs vary greatly depending on the size and materials used. In some instances existing conservatories can be converted into orangeries which is the cheaper option, but in the majority of cases most conservatories will need to be knocked down before building an orangery, due to the way that many conservatories are constructed.

How expensive are orangeries?

As an approximate guide orangery prices are as follows;

To convert an existing 6m x 4m conservatory into an orangery will cost anything from £12k upwards if the existing conservatory can actually  be used.

 To install a brand new 6m x 4m orangery will cost anything from £25k upwards depending on the chosen materials and design.

There are many factors to take into account when planning to build an orangery but as long as you do your homework and listen to the experts’ advice, then you’ll soon be enjoying the luxurious extra space that having an orangery provides!

Click here to see find out more about orangeries

Click here for your FREE quote in South Wales

Derwood Homes


Why Having A Loft Conversion Is A Smart Move

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Loft Conversion Versus Moving

As the current economic climate stands, having a loft conversion is fast becoming the new house move. With houses struggling to sell and many of us needing to extend our living space for a variety of reasons, having a loft conversion can provide more living space at a fraction of the cost of moving.

loft conversion ideas

The great thing about having a loft conversion is that not only will it increase the size if your home but it will actually add value to your property at the same time with the potential of adding anywhere in the region of between £15,000 – £35,000.

If you decide to have a loft conversion, the next tricky part is deciding where to start. There are a number of points to consider before getting started including the following;

Head height: Generally, if you can easily touch the roof from your loft’s floor then it may be a little too small for converting.  As a rule of thumb the height from the floor to ceiling needs to be a minimum of 2.1 m.

However do not despair if your loft doesn’t conform with the required head height as there are ways to overcome this issue including raising the roof or lowering the ceiling in the room below. Obviously this would increase the cost of your loft conversion, but it is still worthwhile to consult a reputable builder to provide you with a free quote and to advise you on the current building laws, before ruling it out altogether.

Loft Conversion Advice – when do you need planning

The good news is that you do not always need planning permission for loft conversions as most buildings have a limit of ‘permitted development’. This includes routine maintenance of buildings or certain small developments of buildings. You are then given automatic planning permission if your conversion falls within this category. However it is important to remember that the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 allows local authorities to create their own definitions of what they categorise as ‘permitted development’, so it is advisable to check with your local authority before making any plans for your loft conversion.

However, if you are going to change the outside of the building or the use of the land or building, you will need to apply for planning permission.

You may also need to apply for planning permission in any of the following instances too:

You want to make the roof higher as part of your conversion

You want to make the roof higher as part of your conversion

Your house is a listed building or in a conservation area

You plan to build a dormer overlooking a neighbour’s house

Your house has already been extended

How long will planning take?

Usually a decision will be made within 8 weeks. However if it is going to take longer the planning department will usually notify you of this in writing.

You will also need to ensure that you comply with building regulations too. Again a reputable builder will be able to offer you advice on this issue too.

Do not go ahead with any work for your loft conversion until you are sure that you have fully complied with building regulations.

Loft Conversion Extras

Once you have decided to go ahead with your loft conversion, what other “bits and bobs” do you need to take into account;


Staircase design

Staircases play an important part within loft conversions. To ensure adequate fire safety, you will need to have a conventional flight of stairs to your loft conversion. Retractable ladders or stairs are not normally allowed but you can opt for paddle stairs for loft conversions in the event that there is not enough space for conventional stairs.

Insulation for your loft conversion

There are a wide variety of insulation methods available including fibre-glass, Rockwool and PIL. Take time to research the best option for your own particular loft conversion porthcawl


Windows are a key source of ventilation and natural light, especially within loft conversions. There are plenty of options available for windows within your loft conversion including velux windows.

You will also need ensure that you have a window (450mm or wider), that could act as an escape route, if your stairway, for whatever reason, does not provide a safe escape route.

Extra points

Other issues that will need to be taken into account within your loft conversion costs are;

Is your boiler large enough to accommodate extra radiators?

Are you having a bathroom installed? If so will your current system be able to handle the pressure of the hot and cold water up to an extra floor.

Where will the additional electrical sockets be placed?

Will everything that you need fit into your new loft conversion?  Items such as a double bed, wardrobe, desk or bookcase.

It’s amazing how a loft, that most of us simply use to dump old boxes or other unwanted items, can be transformed into some valuable extra living space without incurring the additional cost and stress of moving.

We hope that the tips and advice will have given you plenty of loft conversion ideas ..

If you found this blog useful and are planning a loft conversion in Cardiff, Bridgend, Cowbridge, Porthcawl or indeed anywhere in South Wales, and would life a free quote from a loft conversion specialist,simply get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to provide you with a free quotation. Check out some of our loft conversions in the video below.