Monthly Archives: August 2016

Planning an extension for your house

Enhancing your home with a new extension is a great idea, but you might want to take the opportunity to make it even better by adding solar panels to the roof. After all, you will now have a large space that needs to be heated and more roof space to accommodate the panels. Doing it all at the same time can be a great idea and even save you money in the long run.

For the most part solar panels do not need Planning Permission, but you may find that your home is subject to some of the restrictions that currently exist regarding the installation of solar panels on the roof. These restrictions are as follows:

  • The solar panels should be positioned so that they do not have a visual impact on the area or the external appearance of the building. Ideally this means putting them on the back of the house
  • The panels should be removed when no longer required
  • The panels cannot protrude further than 200mm from the roof slope and cannot be installed any higher than the highest part of the roof (but not on the chimney!)
  • Panels cannot be installed on a listed building or within the grounds of a listed building
  • Solar panels cannot be installed on a designated monument site
  • Panels installed in conservation areas cannot be fitted to the front of the house or building
  • Permission must be sought from the leaseholder for installations on flats and the management company must be informed

While you will not need Planning Permission if you fit into the above criteria, you will still need Building Regulations approval. The electrical work, the load capacity of the roof and the registration of the builder will all need to be checked. The installer needs to be registered under the Competent Person Scheme or your panels will not be eligible for the feed-in-tariff.

Making money from your panels

Don’t forget that adding solar panels to your home will allow you to enjoy the benefits of cheaper electricity bills and the feed in tariff which will help you to claw back some of the costs. So even when you are splashing out on a new extension, you could be making long term investments in your home and the environment. It sounds like a win win to us.

Avoid wall house problems

In recent years, due to government campaigns and free offers, more and more homeowners have been having wall cavity insulation added to their homes. In most cases this is a welcome addition that can save a homeowner as much as £275 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust. But in some cases, it has been shown to cause damp and mould problems and it may even need to be removed.

What is cavity wall insulation?
Most homes are constructed with exterior walls that have a gap between the outer brick and the inner block. This air gap can promote heat loss from the inside and wall cavity insulation is designed to fill this space. Usually an insulation material is pumped into the space – a job that should be done by experts to ensure that it no gaps are left and that your home is suitable.

Does wall cavity insulation cause damp problems?
Not always, but if it has been incorrectly fitted or your home is not suitable, it can lead to problems. The consumer company Which? carried out an investigation into wall cavity insulation problems a few years ago and they discovered that some homes are not suitable, but that some installers were not aware of the problem. If your home is affected by the following this may not be suitable for you:

Your outside walls are affected by driven rain or regular rainfall – this applies to certain parts of the UK where wall cavity insulation should not be fitted at all.
Your home is in an unsheltered position and not protected by other houses or tree cover.
Your brickwork is in poor condition with cracks or blown grouting or render.

If these issues affect you, water could penetrate the outside walls of your home and literally soak the insulation. This is then transferred to the inner walls of your home causing damp and mould. The only solution at this stage is to have the insulation completely removed, the outer walls repaired and the insulation re-installed – a lengthy but effective solution.

Should I avoid wall cavity insulation?
Not necessarily. If your installer understands the risks and is able to correctly assess your home, then this type of insulation can be effective. You should check to see that your installer is a member of a body such as the National Insulation Association as this will reassure you that they understand and can assess your home for suitability.

If your home has been built in the last ten years you probably already have insulated walls and therefore won’t need to concern yourself with this at all. In all cases, loft insulation is a universally great idea – so don’t skimp on that.

Buying a House Near Fracking Sites

In a new survey commissioned by House-Extension.co.uk, and conducted by OnePoll, it has been revealed that up to 64% of homeowners would be less likely to buy a house, if it was situated near a fracking site. This is perhaps not that surprising, as proximity to infrastructure developments such as power stations have always been a consideration for house buyers. With news this week that the government has overturned Lancashire County Councils rejection of an application by Cuadrilla to setup a fracking operation, it looks as though Fracking could well be here to stay, with more applications underway for new sites across the country.

In the survey conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of this website, 1,000 respondents across the UK were asked if they would ever consider buying a house near a fracking site, and whether they were for or against fracking if it reduced their energy bills.

Over 64% of respondents said that they would be reluctant to buy a home near a fracking site. In response to the question, 21% said that they were somewhat unlikely to consider buying a home near a fracking site, and 43% stated that they were very unlikely to do so.

When looking into the ages of the respondents, 45 to 54 year olds were most unlikely to buy a home near a fracking site (68%) compared to 59% of 18 to 34 year olds. There was also a higher number of women (63%) who stated that they were unlikely to buy a home near a fracking site compared to 54% of men.

Conversely, when respondents were asked if they were for or against fracking if it reduced their energy bills, 32% said that they were in favour of fracking. This sentiment was almost matched however by 31% of respondents who stated that they were against fracking even if it resulted in lower energy bills.

The age group who were most in favour of fracking if it resulted in lower energy bills were the over 55s with 36%, and the age group least in favour were 35 to 44 year olds with 37%. As with the responses around buying a home near a fracking site, it was again men who were more in favour of fracking to reduce their energy bill with 42%, compared to 35% who were against it.

The results reveal that there are stills reservations amongst Brits when it comes to the subject of fracking, with 64% who would be reluctant to buy a home near a fracking site, but when faced with the prospect of lower energy bills, 32% are in favour of fracking.

Biomass planning requirements

When it comes to renewable energy, biomass is one of the most efficient and energy saving options you can choose. You can choose a system that will both heat your home and provide hot water, all while producing very little carbon into the atmosphere. If you choose to install a system as part of your extension work, you should be aware that there may be some Planning Permission requirements.

What is biomass?

A biomass boiler provides heat to your home via a burner that runs on wood pellets. In some cases this burner can also be used to burn household waste and even food waste. The energy produced is fed into the home where it is used to heat radiators, underfloor heating and hot water. It is incredibly efficient as the carbon produced is less than that absorbed by the tree during its lifetime. In this way it is considered carbon neutral.

Will I need planning?

If the biomass system work is entirely internal and uses existing flues or chimneys, you will most likely not need Planning Permission. If your flues and chimneys meet permitted development rules then you should also be OK. However there are exceptions as follows:

  • If your chimney or flue extends more than one metre above the highest part of the roof
  • If your building is listed or in a conservation area – internal changes may also need to be approved
  • Flues in conservation areas must be fitted away from public view

An outdoor shed or building

You may decide to house your biomass boiler away from your main extension and this building could require planning permission. This is especially the case if the extension has already used up your permitted development rights in terms of space. If the shed is small and you have plenty of space in your garden, you are likely to be OK. But your builder should certainly bear in mind the requirements before work progresses.