Removing the red tape around renovations

The current Government has as much love for red tape, like your average cab driver has for yellow lines and box junctions, so it should come as no surprise that the Prime Minister this week announced a plan to get rid of bureaucracy in the building trade.

The plan to do away with restrictions on minimum room and window sizes will be good news for larger construction firms, as it means that costs can be cut and profits increased. But it will not be such welcome news for those who think that Britain needs to think about increasing rather than decreasing the size of both rooms and windows.

openplan loft style room

Image source: Apartment Therapy

Whatever your view on the debate, there are sure to be many of you who hanker for more space, in your home. In many cases, especially if you are living in a flat or apartment, there is little that you can do about the overall floor space available to you. But there is still plenty that a good builder can do to help you resolve these issues at a reasonable cost. Most of us think that we could do with more space at one time or another, but we don’t always realise that it may be there already and staring us in the face.

The first and most obvious answer is to look up. If you have high ceilings then you are very much in luck. Manhattan and Tokyo city-dwellers are already clued into the kind of creative solution that mezzanine beds and even lounge areas offer, but we are more reticent to consider this. As well as giving a modern look to your home, the addition of a mezzanine can add up to half-a-room’s worth of space. What was a box room could become a spare bedroom with home office space beneath, or even a split-level work room, with workshop and office included.

Any good carpenter or general builder should be able to offer you ideas on how to get going on a project and it need not break the bank.


Image source: Pinterest

The second solution to feeling penned in is to get your hands on the current plans for your home and take a bird’s eye view of its layout. You might be able to see ways to free up space that are simply not obvious when you are sat on the sofa trying to visualise the layout or racing round the house measuring up. If you are in a flat or house without lots of load-bearing walls then a builder should be able to switch around stud walls for you without too much fuss. So, that piece of corridor can be used to enlarge a room, a portion of bedroom can become an extra piece of bathroom and your tiny dining room can sweep straight through into the kitchen.


Image source: Pinterest

Keeping things simple will keep the cost down, so avoid thinking about shifting bathrooms or kitchens to new locations – this will add costs in terms of both electrics and plumbing.

It’s all about gaining the maximum space with the minimum outlay. Do you need that airing cupboard? Consider whether you can lose the pantry or even whether a spare room can be better used to make another room larger. A good builder or a local architect will help you think through the solutions and you can be sure that using the space inside your house, will be more economical than trying to add space on or even moving to a more spacious property.

In some cases you will need planning consent and building control sign-off for this work, but your tradesman will be able to advise on this as well as taking charge of any official paperwork as necessary.

You can find more information about planning permissions and regulations here.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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