Building extensions


House extension in Green End, RenholdIn the present climate of once again rising house prices, a building extension may well prove a financial and practical proposition. With this in mind many home owners find that after taking appropriate advice from a financial adviser, they can capitalise on the increased value of their property to fund an extension, which both extends its capacity as a family dwelling and could perform a valuable role as a financial investment, maybe as part of a retirement plan.

Once a home owner has decided this may be a viable prospect then a builder such as K.J. Hill in Bedford can help with feasibility studies and hand holding as project managers from concept through design to construction and decoration/ finishing.

We worked on a job recently where a 3 bedroom detached house with 1 bathroom was being extended to include 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. In effect this would double its footprint and turn it into a property that suited the current situation of the owners without the need to move.

House extension in Green End, RenholdThe outside of the house changed quite dramatically. The existing flat roof extension was re-worked into a pitched roof which not only looks more in keeping with the original house, but is far more durable. We managed to locally source a batch of reclaimed tiles which meant that the new roof section didn’t look new but blended beautifully with the original structure. The outside was completed by rendering the front and partially rendering the back. Even I was surprised at what a difference the rendering made to the look of the house!

House extension in Green End, RenholdInternally there was a lot of remodelling and consequent steelwork as we completely opened up the rear of the house and blended it with the new extension to create a lovely space where we fitted a beautiful kitchen diner. New bathrooms were also needed, which we were happy to fit, along with new windows and internal and external doors throughout. We completed the job with the necessary plastering and decorating to turn this extensively remodelled house into a beautiful home.

Whether you’re designing a new-build, planning a house extension or having a loft or garage conversion it’s essential that you take advice on what is possible. Give us a call today to discuss your requirements 01234 765050


self build timeline stage 4

You can now take the scaffolding down and behold your beautiful new self-build home – from the outside…

The first fix

Now it’s time to call in your tradesmen and move inside for the first fix. Sort out the electrics, the plumbing, the carpentry and any underfloor heating etc. so your home is serviceable.

Walls, floors and ceilings

Now you can continue with the aesthetics of the inside of your property. Your team can now apply the floor screeding, ready for the flooring to be fitted. When you put in the main flooring will depend on your choice of material and whether you can do it before or after decorating. You will need to choose between dry lining and plastering to finish the walls; your choice of insulation may affect your decision.

Finish the services and carpentry

With the floors, walls and ceilings ready for the final decorations you’ll need to connect up all the mains services and complete the wiring and plumbing so your house is fully serviceable, complete with a functioning kitchen and bathroom.


Now you’re getting very close to completion and you can decorate and furnish your house to turn it into your perfect home. There are lots of things to consider here… lighting, which curtains / blinds to choose, how to design your perfect bedroom and what flooring  will suit your needs. Getting the interior design right is so important for your future enjoyment of your new home.

Back outside

With the inside now beautiful and ready for you to move in you can complete the outside. Put in the driveway and landscape the surrounding gardens so you can start to create an outside space to match the inside. You may need to put in patios or decking. It’s likely that you will have a fair amount of clearing up to do to repair damage caused by machinery and lorries.

The final inspection

Once you’re happy you can arrange for your house to be signed off by the building regulators. They will check that it conforms to regulations and the original planning permission.

Moving in

The only thing left to do now is to move in! The house is now your home. Don’t forget to put the building process behind you and just enjoy it as it is for a couple of years before making any further changes… unless of course you’ve been bitten by the “self-build bug”, in which case go back to the beginning, learn from any mistakes you made and do it all over again!


Building work starts

Finally it is time to move onto site…

Services and utilities on site

Get your site utilities set up. Both you and your team will need shelter, a kitchen and bathroom on site in order to work productively.

Site access

Prepare the access of the site so it’s suitable for the heavy machinery and delivery lorries to safely come and go.

Dig the foundations

When all of the above is complete you can finally get on with your build and start to dig the trenches and foundations of your new home. It is now that you will start to get a feel of the dimensions of your build as you will see the layout of the ground floor rooms.

Prepare oversite

In most styles of build the next stage requires concrete to be poured into the foundations and a solid ground floor established and prepared.

Going up

Once the ground-works are complete it is time to go upwards. For a block and brick construction the walls will be completed up to the first floor and this will be put in place before going up again and finishing with the roof. For a frame construction it’s likely that the frame will be completed all the way to the roof before the walls are filled in. The time-scale for this stage will vary greatly depending on the construction method and if any parts are pre-fabricated. But whatever the construction method your house will take shape terrifyingly quickly now, after the painful slowness of all the previous paperwork.

The roof

Once the walls are in place and any wall cavities filled with your chosen insulation, it’s time for the roof to go on. The framework may already have been in place, or this will happen now, along with whatever finish you have chosen, such as tiling.

Topping off

Once you’ve made it this far it’s time to get your whole team together, have a brief break and pat yourselves on the back. You might like to indulge in a topping off ceremony to celebrate the final bricks and tiles being in place in your building.

Make weather-tight

Now you can see the main body of your new home is complete it’s time to make it weather-tight. Your door and window suppliers should be ready to deliver on time so that this landmark phase goes smoothly and quickly. Putting in the windows is always nerve-racking and relies heavily on all parties following your exact measurements. After this stage is complete you can start to breathe again as your building is safe from the elements and looking more like a home than a building site.

Finish the external

At this stage you will still have the scaffolding up, so get the outside of the house finished while it’s still there. Put up the guttering, add any decoration such as rendering and painting. Rendering may also be necessary to ensure your home is completely watertight and insulated, depending on the type of construction.

To find out what happens next, look out for the next article in our “Self-build Timeline” series of blogs.


self build timeline 2 copy…The site is now yours, but you still have seemingly endless amounts of paperwork to get through before you can even think about concrete.

Find insurance

The first step is to find insurance. This is vital in case things go wrong with the build or any workers injure themselves.

Find your team

Now is the time to find your key workers. Depending on your experience and how much involvement you’re going to have in the project you will want to find an architect or a designer and a project manager. If you wish, you can take on the role of project manager yourself. A project manager typically costs 7-15% of the overall build cost, so doing this yourself could save you money, but it could also cost you if it isn’t done well. Be warned, project management means being on site most days and always available if something crops up.

Employing a company such as KJ Hill to project manage your self-build means that you have an experienced professional taking care of everything for you. Working to tight deadlines and ensuring that tradesmen are on site at just the right time can save you the cost of paying for your project manager and more. If you choose to take on the role yourself, be very sure you have the time, organisational ability and knowledge to do this.

Plan design

With your team together you now need to plan your design. This will come as a welcome break after months of paperwork. At the end of this stage you’ll have a clear vision of how your project will turn out; giving you the hope you need to get you through. Make sure budgets and time frames have some all-important leeway built in for the inevitable hiccups that you will come across.

Planning permission

You should already have a clear idea of the planning regulations that will affect you, but with your plot purchased and your design in-hand it’s time to seek planning permission. This stage will seem excruciatingly slow, but provided you’ve done your research you shouldn’t encounter problems. If you’re looking to build something unique that’s likely to come up against some resistance then it’s highly recommended that you start communicating with your local planning authorities before too much money is spent.

Apply for basic utilities

You will need your basic utilities. Apply for your water and electricity as soon as planning permission is granted so you don’t experience delays with your build.

Prepare detailed drawings

Work with your architect or designer to put together the detailed drawings that will act as the instruction manual for the whole team of workers, ensuring that everyone on site is coordinated and there are no costly errors.

Coordinate building control officers

It’s time to get the authorities involved again and inform the building control officers of all your plans and coordinate site inspections to ensure you’re operating a safe site that complies with building regulations.

Find your suppliers

Ensure you’ve selected the suppliers of raw materials and fittings that will deliver on time and can provide exactly what you’re looking for. Start to work with any companies that will be preparing bespoke items such as windows, doors or staircases.

Find your tradesmen

Find the tradesmen who will be working on your site. You may need a variety of different teams, or you may need one head builder who already has reliable subcontractors. Either way, do your research as you’re trusting your project and your finances with these tradesmen.

Of course, if you’ve employed a good project manager such as KJ Hill, most of the above will be their responsibility.

To find out what happens next, look out for the next article in our “Self-build Timeline” series of blogs.


A self-build timelineA self-build is a daunting task. There’s a lot of risk, a lot of work and a lot of different stages to go through before you can move into your dream home. To help you focus on your goal and to keep track of everything that you need to do we’ve put together a timeline of all the different stages that you need to complete in order to build your own home.
Arrange a mortgage in principle
The first stage is to find out how much money you will have available to you. Contact different self-build mortgage providers to find out how much money they will lend you in order to complete your build.
Plan budget
Once you know how much mortgage you are entitled to you can assess your other financial assets and set a figure for your budget. Make sure your budget  is realistic and achievable. The main reason for a self-build failing is a poorly planned budget.
Locate potential plots
Now you know what you can afford you can start finding plots. This stage could take a long time before you find your perfect location to build. There’s a huge variety of plots available, some come with planning permission already, some may have a derelict property that will need knocking down before you can start and some may just be plots of land with building potential. Either Plotfinder, PlotBrowser or Plot Search  are good places to start if you’re looking for land to develop.
Assess plots for development
There are a number of things that you need to consider. Assuming the land is in the right location for you, then how you access the plot, available services and likely planning restrictions all need to be considered before you start investing significant amounts of money.
Have the site valued by your mortgage provider so they agree that the price is fair and you will get the maximum mortgage for it.
Site survey
Carry out a thorough survey of the site before you purchase so you know about any factors that could cause delays or difficulties further down the line.

Purchase site
Once you have completed all of the above and both you and your mortgage lender are happy it is time to fully commit and purchase your site. Congratulations!
The average self-build takes around 2 years from start to finish, with only 6-9 months of this being on-site construction. It’s not for the faint hearted, but it can be incredibly rewarding. To find out what happens next, look out for the next article in our “Self-build Timeline” series of blogs.


budgetingBuilding your own home is both rewarding and stressful. The learning curve is steep as new challenges present themselves daily. Even seasoned professionals feel the pressure when building a home for their family.

Managing a budget when undertaking a self build is the most important factor in reducing the stress of the project and maximising your enjoyment. But it’s also one of the most difficult things to do. Many people get it wrong and end up with far more debt than they intended, or worse, having to give up. Make sure you don’t get caught out on your self-build and before you start, learn how to manage your budget.

Cash is king

However you are funding your build ensure you have enough cash to pay for materials, suppliers, tradesman and your living costs during the project. Different loan and mortgage suppliers will release the cash on different terms. Make sure the cash will be available at the right stages and not tied up in bonds or equity. Be very clear about your cash flow before you start anything else. Don’t rely on being able to re-mortgage a house, or extend a loan, as the economic downturn has made acquiring extra cash much more difficult than it used to be.

Spend more to spend less

Always receive at least 3 quotes from suppliers and tradesmen before you decide on what to buy, but don’t always go for the cheapest. Whether you’re sourcing materials or deciding on a builder, architect or designer, choose and pay for quality. If you go for the cheapest then the chances are that you will have to redo things and this is where budgets can spiral out of control. Take the time to do research on who you are going to use.

Use reputable suppliers

You will need goods to turn up on time in order to stick to your budget. If your windows turn up four weeks late, then that’s four extra weeks without a weather-tight house and four extra weeks of paying project managers and builders, as well as having to juggle other trades people such as plasterers.

Have a contingency fund

With the best will in the world a project as large as building a home is going to hit obstacles. You can plan as much as you like, but it could snow in May, your head builder could come down with food poisoning at the worst possible moment and your bespoke staircase company could go into liquidation. Things happen. Rather than plan everything tightly and efficiently, plan for life to get in the way. At every stage of the build allow extra time and extra money. It’s the only way not to get caught out. If you finish early and with extra money you won’t complain.

Stick to your plan

You have had an image of your ideal home floating around in your head since childhood. You’ve lived in many properties you’ve disliked and dreamt of perfection. You know where you want the sockets situated, you know what brand of thermostat you like and you know what splash of colour you’ll have on your new bedspread. Don’t start your build until you have finalised all your plans and make sure final means final. You can always redecorate in a couple of years if you wish, but for the initial home build if you go off on a whim you will blow your budget. It’s not just the extra cost of materials, but the extra time for builders, the extra work for contractors and the architect may have to redraw plans. Changing your mind costs a surprising amount of money.

Decide on the best use of your time

It may save you about 20% of the cost of a build if you project manage yourself, but is this the best use of your time? Project management is a full time and stressful job. You could well be better handing over to a professional and continuing with your job. Trying to juggle a full time job and project managing is a huge undertaking. If your work suffers then so could your money, not all bosses will be forgiving if your performance takes a downturn. This won’t mean that you’re not involved in the build, but it may place less pressure on you and your family. If you have the time then, of course, project managing is a rewarding experience, but don’t undertake it unless you can commit 100%.

If you have a project manager or managing builders like K.J. Hill, they should be able to advise you what may go wrong at each stage of the build, e.g. planning, architects drawings, groundworks/foundations, services, floor screeding, electrics, bricklaying/blockwork, roofing, plumbing, partitioning, dry lining, plastering, decorating/painting etc. This will enable you and them to plan for contingencies so that they may be managed at minimal cost.




Welcome to our blog


Welcome to our new blog where we propose to discuss the many aspects of plastering, drylining and building in both the residential and commercial sectors of our industry. We look forward to showing information on domestic conversations, extensions and new builds, as well as renovation of care homes and offices.

For your convenience we have provided a tag cloud in the right hand column which should bring up related posts as we add them to the site.