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Sunday 4 February 2018

Project Playroom Extension - Planning and Building

Project Playroom Extension planning and building

It has always been my dream to have a house with a playroom (and a utility room, but fun comes before washing in our household!) and sometimes, you have to take a bit of a gamble and spend a bit of dosh to make the best out of the situation you are in. We spend SO many moments talking about what we will have in our 'forever home', but nothing makes you realise the speed at which time passes like watching your children grow. I had started to feel a bit sad that by the time we could afford this 'dream home' our children would be too old to really make the best of it. By practising a bit of mindfulness and attempting to live in the moment a little more, we took the plunge and 'project playroom extension' began earlier on this year...

Before the playroom extension - garden renovations:

When we bought our house back in 2013, it was a new-build with what can only be described as a mud hill full of buried rubbish for a garden. The builders clearly forwent the need for a skip and simply buried their broken bricks, roof tiles and cigarette butts into a heap of dirt on top of some compact clay earth. The surface water was everlasting and the 'garden' unusable. 

Water logged muddy garden before the renovation

We spent a fair few thousand having the land levelled at two heights with a patio below and turf higher up. 

garden after the renovation two level grass and patio

A few months later, upon discovering I was pregnant with our first child, we built a summer house shed which would become our outside office based on the fact our inside office would have to become a nursery...

summer house garden office shed

Of course the outside office never actually happened because kids come with more stuff than you'll ever realise and it is now just a shed with windows! The office has been placed firmly at the kitchen table which unsurprisingly is where I am now sat .... in between the hours spent at my children's bedside willing them to sleep of course!

It's fair to say that we probably haven't got our money's worth out of the patio seeing as half of it is now being dug up for the extension but that's just the way these things go.

The process of planning our extension:

So...first things first we needed to get a rough idea of how much our playroom would cost before deciding if it was worth it.

What is classed as permitted development in the UK?

A single story 3m x 3m extension comes under permitted development without the need for full planning permission. Until 2019 you had the option of taking the extension a little further out as long as your neighbours are notified. With this in mind we decided to look into a 3m x 4m extension which would reach out as far as the end of the patio before the turfed garden starts.

Should we build a conservatory, orangery or an extension?

We invited a few different builders around to give us a ball park figure based on these requirements and we also asked a conservatory company to quote for a conservatory or an orangery so that we could compare costs and decide which was the best option.

The difference between a conservatory and an extension:

The difference between a conservatory and an extension is that a conservatory would be separate to the house and as such would need entry doors to the house which could be locked. An extension could be more open plan and have heating and lighting which would work alongside the rest of the house.

Is a conservatory cheaper than an extension?

When we compared the initial quotes, it appeared that an extension was only going to be a few thousand more than a conservatory and so this seemed like the obvious choice, both for resale value of the property and also versatility of use.

The first steps of planning an extension:

We commissioned a local architect to draw up some plans, tender some quotes and also send off our application to building regulations. We decided to also get a proper planning certificate so that everything was in order should any questions arise later down the line when it comes to selling the house 

All of this came at a cost and by now we had spent enough money to be heavily invested in the idea of the playroom extension going ahead. Imagine our surprise then, when the quotes for the playroom extension (based on proper architectural plans) came back at £10-£18k MORE than some of our original ball park quotes. We almost chickened out and retreated a little into our safe places to reconsider our moves.

By this point I was well on my way with my second pregnancy and I couldn't imagine life without this extra room we had been planning.  Our cosy, minimalist living room had already been taken over by toys. Things were about to get a little more hectic with a new baby and our current home would soon become a bit more of a squeeze. 

Sarah Arthurwears pregnant bump photo
We decided that although we couldn't be certain we would get all of the money spent back in an increased value of the house, we would add some value and in the meantime we would also have the extra space to enjoy. We had already made sure that we had kept the plans as cost effective as possible by reusing the current patio doors and keeping the current entry space rather than knocking through (meaning no need for steel beams etc) it really was now or never.

Now was the time to be a little bit brave, but we did insist on a few more quotes just to make sure. A friend had used a local builder and recommended his services, so although less well known in terms of advertising, his work could be vouched for.

We let things stall a little during my due date with Charlotte and the first few weeks of her life before resuming project playroom extension full steam ahead.

Starting the building work:

The planned start date was actually 4 years to the day since we moved in ... this felt like a lucky sign, and the builder we had chosen - Charlie - was totally prepared, bar a few minor decisions from us.

Charlie works alongside his stepson, Michael, and both were incredibly polite, respectful and hardworking. The only thing I felt I had to worry about was how to make sure I provided enough hot drinks when my track record of managing to make myself ONE cup of tea a day and actually get round to drinking it was pretty dire...#mumlife right?!?

digging the foundations for the playroom extension

Arthur loved watching the digger during the first few days and of course we ended up setting up a builders construction activity on his tuff spot tray for him to act out what he had been watching.

Laying the concrete for the playroom extension

These guy moved FAST. They wanted to get everything (bar the underfloor heating and flooring which will happen in a few months once the concrete is dry enough) done and dusted before Xmas, and they did not disappoint. By day 14 the building itself was built....That just left the concrete floor, the roof, the window and doors, the electrics, the plasterer and finally the decorator. Like a finely tuned machine, everything happened in perfect timing and by working day 20, it was done (for now) ....

playroom extension plastered and painted

So this is where we are for now. We have to wait for the concrete floor to completely dry out before we can lay the underfloor heating and the laminate flooring. I am finding the wait quite hard as I am desperate to get the room furnished and finished!

As a temporary measure I have laid down some foam mats and some fake grass so that Arthur can still have a bit of playtime in there. 

You can read a fellow blogger's post here, if you're looking for an interior designer's take on planning a playroom

You can read all about the next stage -

laying the underfloor heating and laminate flooring here 

and you can see the final product, plus a video tour of our child -led playroom here. 

Oh, and by the way....

Restrictive covenants in title deeds:

 We definitely needed the proper planning certificate when we later sold this house, and because the house was a new-build it apparently had a covenant in the deeds which we were unaware of, which meant we needed permission from the developer to alter the property.  We only became aware of this when selling the property, it didn't come up at any point during the build. We ended up having to buy additional insurance for our buyers to cover this as we hadn't got this additional permission. 

Sarah x 

Bringing the outside in... . Whilst it's no substitute for outdoor play, sometimes you just need a fun alternative... . our garden has been slightly macerated due to building equipment and muddy boots during our extension build and so rendered 'unusable' at the moment (translate: slippy mud bath full of stones) . We have to wait for the concrete floor to dry out before we can lay the underfloor heating and floorboards so as an interim, and for the purpose of creating a bit of an inside play garden, I have used some fake grass and put the slide inside 😊 . This has been an absolute hit today, and whilst at the moment the slide is being used for its intended purpose (travelling down in different ways) I will be extending this activity with the help of some toy cars, and tape measures.... . can you guess what we will be doing?? . . Ps: if you want to read more about the importance of outdoor play, you can follow into my blog post here: http://www.arthurwears.com/2017/03/learning-through-play-outside-wigwams.html?m=0 . . . #watchthemlearn #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #earlyyearsteacher #teachersofinstagram #earlyyearseducation #teacherblogger #teachershare #teachersfollowteachers #invitationtoplay #stimulatinglearning #kcacols #pblogger #playroom
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