Q. I would like to extend my kitchen… where do I start please? Do I start by getting an architect? Or a builder? Do I need planning? Please Help! Thank you
A. Thank you for this question. I am sure since Covid in particular many people are looking at their homes and imagining how their lives would improve if they just had some more quality space. But where to start?
I grew up in a housing estate in Midleton in the 1980s. In those days everyone seemed to be adding some sort of an extension or other to their homes. It was like an arms race. Someone would add a glass sliding door to their porch, it caught on. Next a pitched roof over the flat roof, the masses followed. Finally the attic conversion, copy and paste up and down the road.
There were stories of a small builder entering the estate and leaving five years later having modified most of the houses in some way or other. So is the small builder the best person to start with in these instances?
In the past, we used to build extensions in Cork. I remember being asked by one lady to have a look at her house. Though she had extended her kitchen about 10 years previously, it really wasn’t working. She had engaged with a small builder who had told her she wouldn’t need an architect as it was simple enough and the architect would just cost too much. The end result was a very significant investment in a body of work in her family living space which never really offered any real long-term value.
When designing an extension, you really need to look at the existing house. Assess what is working, what is lacking, and then (if necessary) add to compensate. This requires a spatial analysis by a competent architect. Yes, architects will be concerned with the look and feel of the extension (which will likely cost more to build) but architects always start with floor plans and thus a study of how best to use the critical space in your home.
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