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How To: Create a Master Bedroom in your Loft or Attic!

How To: Create a Master Bedroom in your Loft or Attic!

Do you have a loft or attic in your home? Have you converted it yet? If not, you’re really missing out on prime space for an extra or master bedroom! Having an attic bedroom means you will have more privacy, great views, and of course added space in your home which adds financial benefit should you decide to sell your place.  Time to turn your loft into that master bedroom? Here are some top tips from Sure Planning Permission Director Steve McStea. Is a loft or attic bedroom really for you?  The idea sounds great but you need to be sure that you are ready for a big move from the main floor of your home. Having a master bedroom at the top of the house is great for the quietness but don’t forget about that extra walk up the stairs!  If you have younger children you probably would prefer to be on the same floor as them, but on the other hand if you have teenagers- being up in the loft is exactly what you need! So you may be wondering what exactly will the project entail?  The next step is to determine how much work, cost and renovating it will take to convert your attic or loft into a master bedroom.  For older houses, the heating, ventilating and air conditioning will have to be run to the attic and possibly plumbing pipes. For many home owners, the expense of having to run new services to the attic is minimal in comparison to the benefit of added space and functionality. Before you get started, ask an experienced contractor or builder to assist you in estimating the costs. Don’t be alarmed by the costs,  and remember that all the extra square footage is actually adding value to your home so it’s an investment! Excellent ceiling height is achieved by a mansard to the rear and most councils will permit dormer windows to the front elevation too. Often even more space be gained by building partially over the rear extension commonly known as a ‘pod’. The option for natural light must be a priority when it comes to loft or attic conversions.  While many homes don’t have skylights, dormer windows located in the walls could work as opposed to the ceiling, and even solar tubes can be installed to bring light into the master bedroom attic space.  Your outside view should also be considered- as you’ll be spending a lot of time looking at it! The loft space will already have fantastic architectural lines from the roof, so enhance them with the décor you choose.  For smaller spaces, use light colours, or if there’s a lot of natural light shining in, something like a darker accent wall behind the bed could be a great focal point. Lofts or attics that are converted into master bedrooms have so much potential for you and your home.  If you don’t want the space for yourself, perhaps it’s the best place for your aspiring rock star teenager to live!

Top 5 Tips on Hiring a Contractor from Sure Planning Director Steve McStea

Top 5 Tips on Hiring a Contractor from Sure Planning Director Steve McStea
So you’re looking to build an extension or perhaps a basement conversion, but where do you start?  With many firms out there promising the world it’s difficult to know how to choose the right one for you.  Sure Planning’s director Steve gives his top 5 tips on how to choose a contractor below:
1-Recommendations from others

Start by asking your friends and family and then check in with others in your area who are having works done.

2- Do telephone interviews with a few prospective contractors
• Do they take on projects the size of what you want to achieve?

• Will they provide references from suppliers?

• Are they able to provide a list of previous clients?

• Will they have many other projects going on at the same time?

• Do they use subcontractors?

Their answers to these will help give an idea of their availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project and how the project will run.

3- Meet face to face
Pick a couple of contractors you like the sound of to meet for estimates and further discussion.  They should be able to answer your questions and put you at ease- this person will be in your home for hours at a time so you need to get on with them- but at the same time, don’t let personality fool you.  Also, Google them for reviews or disputes.
Call up former clients from the list provided to find how their project was, and visit a current job site or completed works to see for yourself if the builders seem courteous and work safely, and without too much mess!
5- Compare quotes
Ask everyone to break down the cost of materials, labour and other expenses.  Don’t just go for the cheapest one though, it’s often better to spend a little more and choose someone you feel you can work with.

Considering a Rear Extension or Loft Conversion? You Need to Read this!   

Considering a Rear Extension or Loft Conversion? You Need to Read this!   


Planning officers are increasingly concerned about the impact that a residential development will have not only the current neighbours, but also the future owners.

Extension projects that are most likely to be reduced in scope are side returns and loft conversions.  Reductions in size to these areas can dramatically impact on the practicality, and of course the value of the property. 

Rear extensions:-

Most likely the ground floor extension purpose is to develop the kitchen/dining area.  Your local council often limits the height of the extension on the boundary wall and the protrusion out along the boundary from the rear of the existing or original structure.  

Even if your neighbour doesn’t complain or object the council will consider the impact on the future neighbour and enforce suffocating restrictions to the design. 

Strangely enough, even if your neighbour submits an application the council will restrict or even reject that also!

The solution:-

Why not consider a joint application with your neighbour?  The council will almost certainly approve up to 3 metre high extensions extending well into the garden areas of 6m or so.

Loft conversions:-

These can also be restricted by the council saying that the rear mansard cannot be extended all the way to the party wall, insisting it be stepped in over 1metre, losing you valuable head height that may make something like a wardrobe or an en-suite impossible. This has huge practical and financial implications and possibly making the project a non-starter.

The solution:-

Again, a joint application with your neighbour is a good idea. Now you can in effect build the party/boundary wall up and the flat roof of the mansard will join to it. 

If it adds the en-suite it’s adding real value.

What is the catch?

Well, the council can- and probably will subject the joint applications to a condition that says both yours and your neighbour’s development must be started at the same time.  Sounds fair enough, however life is never that easy when it comes to neighbours and you want your extension or conversion completed by Christmas! 

The work around:-

Before you commence work on any project under a planning approval, notice must be served to the council.  With a joint application, to satisfy the condition, both yours and your neighbour’s commencement must be notified and started.   Notification is a paper exercise and quick to submit. On the face of it the start on site is harder if not impossible to get resolved as both should start at the same time.  The truth is much simpler.  Once the planning laws and party wall laws work in our favour. You see your neighbour shares the party wall  or boundary and as the joint application utilises this line when you put spade to ground for your side you also put spade to ground for your neighbours – thus both projects are started , the condition has been met and you can proceed to build your extension even if your neighbour never does!

The bonus point:-

The selling point to your neighbour is that even if they do not want to build the project themselves the approved application that is now “started” never expires, so they have built-in extra value when they sell or indeed the may choose one day to extend.  Everyone is happy, even the council- and you are a winner.


Sure Planning Director Steve McStea Gives His Top Tips on Adding Value to your Home!

Sure Planning Director Steve McStea Gives His Top Tips on Adding Value to your Home!

Ever asked yourself why there are so many skips and hoardings in just about every London street As house prices continue to cruise ever higher and the cost of stamp duty makes moving increasingly expensive, the ‘don’t move, improve’ fan base grows rapidly. Sure, more and more families want more and more space, but it has to be financially viable, so its worth understanding how to design value into the project.

I’m going to explain how we add 1000-1500sq ft of essential and very valuable space leaving you to wonder how you ever coped before. You, your family and guests can enjoy and ultimately benefit when the time comes to move away be it to sunnier climes or to downsize. ‘Don’t move, improve’ has never been so profitable!

Developers know it well enough, you can build a large house and struggle to sell if it doesn’t tick all the boxes for the buyer- that’s why understanding the next owner is crucial. A typical three bed, Victorian mid-terrace property in London has the potential to double in value with the correct value-enhanced design. It is always better and cheaper to extend and refurbish the whole house in one go. You end up with a refined and polished living environment instead of what commonly happens, an evolved, disconnected and dysfunctional home with varying finishes and fittings throughout. If you can’t afford a one building project then it is essential to have a plan of the property evolution, so the vision is never lost and one extension won’t adversely affect the next.

Let’s tick some boxes that not only you as a family will enjoy but the next owner will appreciate too.

Ground floor:
Extend the kitchen to create a kitchen/diner. Maybe even get a sofa in there too. Get extra light in by adding roof lights and full width sliding doors opening to a flush patio or decked area. The front reception will be best kept as a grown up and television room. The kitchen/diner is more the whole family area. One of the most common mistakes is to join the front and rear reception rooms to form one long thin area. The next most common mistake is to link the rear reception directly to the extended kitchen. If this is done, what was the rear reception now becomes a thoroughfare that is useless and simply low value space.

The tick box solution to the rear reception is to convert it from a potential walkway to three very useful rooms. First gain a ground floor WC, accessed from the hall only. Second, we add a super boot room that can accommodate all the junk that accumulates a narrow Victorian hall. This should be large enough for pushchairs, push bikes and even golf clubs- as well as all the coats and boots that a family and friends will bring on a wet winter’s day.

The third tick box solution for the converted rear reception is a real boon to the kitchen, it’s a walk-in larder. Everyone loves them right? You can store a sack of potatoes or onions together with all the tins and ingredients into an easy access storage space. This is the answer to the all the family cook’s prayers! The walk in larder really frees up wall space in the kitchen to provide more worktop space that is at a premium.

The next money-maker is another bedroom. Almost certainly you’ll be able to convert the loft to a great new space for the kids, a nanny or a guest. Ideally the loft conversion will provide an en-suite shower room as this creates much better value. The rear of the roof space should be flat by building a full-width mansard that has windows to create a bright and airy room.

The ultimate space-maker and super money-maker is a basement extension. This elevates the house to a totally new financial bracket by creating quite literally another floor of equal or greater size than the new ground floor area. The essential rooms that this level provides are; a bedroom with an en-suite, games room, utility room/kitchenette. The new basement area ties the whole house together and enables the rest of our extended house to function in a flexible and family-friendly way. Let me explain; the basement bedroom provides for a live-in nanny, the utility room/kitchenette lets her work at this level to and to cater for herself and the younger kids without interfering with the family’s privacy. The utility room also frees up space in our kitchen and the often large games room can be used as the perfect escape for the teenagers.

Often the basement can also adds some luxury areas such as a wine cellar, sauna, steam room, home office, cinema room etc.

We have now taken a simple three bed, two reception room kitchen and bathroom home to the new heights now providing four bedrooms, two en-suites, adult reception, games room, kitchen with walk-in larder/diner with lounge space, utility/kitchenette, ground floor WC, boot room and storage.

Remember, when extending your home have an end game that maximises its value and homeliness so that you, and its future owners can enjoy it as your families’ requirements change.

New residential project for Sure Planning Permission in Hampton!

New residential project for Sure Planning Permission in Hampton!
shutterstock 203994281 300x225 New residential project for Sure Planning Permission in Hampton!
We have just logged the planning application on the Planning Portal with Richmond Borough. The project is for a young growing family who require more and indeed better space to grow into as they love TW12, the kids are happy at school and transport connections are excellent to Central London and Heathrow.
The existing property is a three bedroom semi detached house with a garage to one side. The proposal is to demolish the garage and build a two storey side extension to provide on the first floor a new master bedroom with en-suite shower room with WC and a walk-in wardrobe with dresser!
The ground floor will be totally modernised and extended to create a beautiful new kitchen diner with large glass panels opening to the rear. The extension will accommodate the enlarged kitchen with a walk-through larder to the new out of sight – out of mind utility room (lets get the storage and noisy appliances out of the kitchen!) There will be a new side entrance straight into a boot room where all the coats, boots, golf clubs, push chair, scooters etc etc can be discreetly hidden away tidily or possibly not so tidily!
The front entrance hall is to double in size to create a welcoming feeling on arrival.
The single car driveway will be doubled in width and the pavement threshold doubled too for easy parking and to stop others parking in front of the drive.
The whole package will be quite contemporary and transform the families lifestyle completely – “We are so excited we can’t wait to get going”.
Every detail has been very carefully considered to tick the boxes for our family so stressful and expensive stamp duty moving costs won’t be necessary for a long long time.
Value for money? definitely! An extra bedroom with en-suite increases the property value far more than the build and refurb cost to the whole house. Its a no brainer.

Expert Advice: Planning Permission for Side Returns, Know the Rules!

Expert Advice: Planning Permission for Side Returns, Know the Rules!
 Expert Advice: Planning Permission for Side Returns, Know the Rules!

kitchen Extensions

Expert advice on planning permission for side returns by Sure Planning Permission’s Director Steve McStea

It is mind boggling the way councils around London try to refuse application for side returns by twisting the written words of the guidelines to suit them.  Recently we have been working on several applications which were virtually the same and the their respective councils varied hugely in their views as to what would be acceptable.  One even suggested that the 45′ Rule did not rely on light being restricted from the neighbour’s window or door.  To be clear, if the neighbours window is already in shade then the 45′ rule cannot be used to refuse an application.

I cannot stress enough to clients how important it is to know the rules that apply, find examples of similar applications that have been similar and to talk to the council so they understand that should they reject it you will appeal.

Latest Client Testimonial for Sure Planning Permissions in South West London

Latest Client Testimonial for Sure Planning Permissions in South West London

shutterstock 238394782 300x200 Latest Client Testimonial for Sure Planning Permissions in South West London

At Sure Planning Permission, we take pride in the service we provide to our clients from beginning to end of their journey with us.  Don’t just take our word for it, and instead see what our clients say about us!

“We are more than happy. Sure Planning have achieved what, at times, has seemed unachievable and daunting from the various barriers and objections that the planning officers have raised. Sure Planning persistence, professionalism and Steve McStea’s personal commitment to getting a great result for us, where others might well have given up, has been more than welcomed and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you.”

G Pritchard

New Government Rules Allow Houses to Have Larger Extensions

New Government Rules Allow Houses to Have Larger Extensions

The government has passed a new legislation to increase the depth allowed under permitted development for single storey rear extensions.  Previously permitted development rules allowed a 3 metre single storey rear extension to terraced or semi detached homes and a 4 metre single storey rear extension to a detached property.  Those limits have now been doubled, for 3 years only and allow 6 metre extensions to terraced or semi detached houses and 8 metre extensions to detached houses.

These new home extension rules only apply to houses though not listed buildings, flats, maisonettes or homes in a conservation area.

If you are considering an extension to your home, Sure Planning Permissions are on hand to speak with you about how it all works and assist you with the application process.

Phone us on 020 8338 1385 or email: info@sureplanning.co.uk

Approaching retirement and considering a home extension?

Approaching retirement and considering a home extension?


Following changes introduced in April 2015 you now have more choice and flexibility than ever before over how and when you can take money from your pension pot. For those choosing to retire soon a home extension is often a popular investment. It may be that you have moved to a smaller property and want to make more of your available space, or perhaps you wish to add value to your home with an added games room for example. Researchers find that retired people who get involved in hobbies tend to be much happier and often live longer- perhaps it’s time to create that extra space!

Are you considering benefiting from this new change in the pension process by undertaking a home extension? Why not get in touch with our friendly team at Sure Planning to see how we can make your vision a reality?


Call Sure Planning TODAY for a FREE consultation with one of our experts!

Phone: 020 8338 1385
Email: info@sureplanning.co.uk




Sure Planning’s Top Tips for Garage Extensions!

Sure Planning’s Top Tips for Garage Extensions!

Now that more and more people are choosing to work with what they have and add value to their homes rather than buy, it seems there is no better time to extend your home. For homeowners wishing to create more space for growing families, it’s the natural option.

Extending on top of a garage is a quick and relatively easy way to add value to your home as you will not have to do any digging. These days a garage extension bedroom with an en-suite can add over £100,000 to the value of your home- great if you live in London and are limited with space. Research shows that around 30% of the construction work that architects are currently hired for is for garage extensions. True, converting the garage itself into a bedroom is an idea, but most of us need that space to store bikes and barbecues if not an actual car!

A detached garage is perfect as it will not affect the rest of the house, and having a separate, self-contained building is ideal for an older relative’s bedroom, for an office or study, or for a teenager wanting their independence.

Sure Planning’s Top Tips for Garage Extensions:

Check the garage foundations to ensure they can take the weight of the extension. Experts recommend they are at least 450mm wide and 750mm deep.

  • Obtaining planning permission is a must due to the height alteration of the roof.
  • You will need to consider if you need an extra staircase.
  • It’s wise to do some research before you start- find out from local estate agents how much value the extra room will add to your home.
  • This is the most convenient type of extension- at least there will be no disruption to your daily life while the work is in progress! More so if the garage is detached.

Outgrowing your home and have extra space above your garage?  Want to add value to your home?

Call Sure Planning TODAY for a FREE consultation with one of our experts!

Phone: 020 8338 1385
Email: info@sureplanning.co.uk