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  1. If you need more (or different) space, but like where you live, do consider building a new house.  There is no VAT on new build projects and once you have factored in all the costs associated with moving, you might find it’s not that much more costly.
  2. Use a planning consultant.  We spent two and a half years trying to get planning permission.   Once we employed a consultant the revised plans were approved in two months. My advice would be: if the initial plans are rejected, employ a planning consultant and listen to his advice.
  3. Pay attention to the structure.  You don’t see them, but the structural walls are some of the most important parts of the building.  The blockwork probably costs only the same as the doors and windows, so it’s worth using a decent system with a proven track record. 
  4. Use a builder you trust.  They may not be the cheapest, but unless you are on site every day you really need to be sure they are going to do a great quality job.
  5. Use experts.  You’ll most likely be working with an architect, but also use the technical expertise of companies like H+H that provide technical advice, design details and even technical drawings that can reduce the time and cost involved in the planning stages.
  6. Plan for the future.  At the end of the process you want the security of knowing that your house will be a great asset for the long term, so when it comes to the structure of the house, don’t go for anything that won’t last at least two lifetimes.
  7. Be very sure you know who’s responsible for what.  In our case, I worked on the structure of the house and my wife took over when it came to the interior design and fittings.  Planning that division of work at the start removed a lot of the potential for arguments.
  8. Allow plenty of time to sort out the utilities. 
  9. Consult your neighbours at an early stage.   If you involve them in the planning stages they are far more likely to support your planning application.
  10. Design in some treats.  My Bluetooth bathroom mirror makes me smile every morning.

Gain inspiration from John's project

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