Extensions and conversions
Extensions & Conversions in Edinburgh

If you are considering building an extension, an attic conversion, knocking through a wall to open out a room or any major property project then in this article we aim to provide some guidance on how to approach these types of projects.

This is not intended as a “how to guide” – we’d always recommend getting professional assistance – but we hope it’s useful for those who don’t know where to start.

How much will it cost?
Naturally enough, this is often the question people want to know first.
Rather than reach for the phone and ask a builder to provide a “quote” we’d recommend a bit of online research to get some ball park costs. These will be as accurate as a builder could provide before the job has been properly specified and may help shape your thoughts on what you can afford to spend.

Our online research suggested the following ball park figures for building works (costs are inclusive of VAT):

  • Single storey extension: - £1,300 to £1,700 / Sq m*
  • Two storey extensions: - £1,800 to £2,500 / Sq m*
  • Attic conversions: - £700 to £1,000 / Sq m
  • Garage conversion: - £6,000 to £12,000
  • 2m high boundary wall: - £140 to £200 / m
  • Dormer Windows: - £3,000 - £6,000
  • Slab laying / Block Work: - £50 - £100 / Sq m

*based on the same foot print area

Of course the actual costs could be more or they could be less depending on many factors but in particular will depend “what you want to spend”

Note that the above figures do not include the supplying and fitting of kitchens and bathrooms or the costs for architects, surveyors, structural engineers or other similar professionals.

Planning Permission and Building Warrants
There will be many rules relating to both what is permissible in your local area as well as building regulations that any extension or conversion will need to comply with.
Contact Edinburgh Council’s Building Control / Planning department, explain what you have in mind and they will then advise you what you will need to provide. (edinburgh.gov.uk. Tel 0131 529 3550)
Very broadly, you will be required to submit an application (of some type) to the council in the following circumstances:
  • Change of use of a room
  • Moving or altering drains
  • Changing the outline or foot print of a building
  • Altering a load bearing wall

These are just very broad indications and we recommend that you contact Edinburgh Council for their advice.

Architects, Surveyors, Structural Engineers and the like
Depending on the advice given by Building Control you may then need to have drawings produced and applications submitted.

Although you can do some of this yourself generally this is where professional help is most useful.

Architects are often the go to people for large extensions. However, a cheaper alternative can be Architectural Technicians or Architectural Designers.

In the case of a knock through you may only need to submit a report and specification from a structural engineer.

If the work needed is primarily for repairs to a tenement then a Surveyor may be a good place to start.

Any drawings and applications produced by one of these professional will contain detailed specifications of the work that is to be done, the materials to be used and how building regulations will be complied with. It is these that a builder will need in order to provide a meaningful and accurate quotation.

Choosing a builder
The time honored method is “get three quotes and go for the cheapest.”
While we’d certainly advocate getting three quotes we’d question whether selecting the cheapest is always the best option.

On the one hand cheapest could be the builder who has worked out the most efficient way to deliver your job. However, it could be the builder who plans to use the least qualified and experienced labour and cheapest possible materials.

If you have used a professional to produce the technical drawings and specifications then you should at least be able to compare Builders quotes on a like for like basis.

There is also always the option of asking your architect, surveyor, etc to run a tender process and recommend a builder based on this.

On thing we would advocate is to choose a builder with whom you have a rapport. You are inviting a stranger into your house for what is often a fairly stress filled experience. If it were me, I’d want that person to be someone I felt I could communicate with and fully understood my way of thinking.