Property series. Two families, the Goodes and the Samsons, try their best to extend their homes whilst keeping costs down and the work to a tight budget.
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Across the country, behind closed doors, we British are building.
We're building up, down and out, to improve our homes.
I've instructed my architect that I'm not comfortable at all with that.
But before we build, we need permission.
Permission from the planners, a bunch of people dedicated
to protecting our public spaces and neighbourhoods.
I think in its present state it possibly isn't quite acceptable.
So, if you've ever wanted a bigger kitchen,
an extra bedroom or an en suite bathroom, stand by.
It's time to...
Wherever we live, most of us long for just a little more space.
Growing families need extra bedrooms,
more and more people want home offices,
all of us need extra storage space.
But times are tough and extending your home is expensive.
Is it any wonder that planners are being bombarded
with applications from homeowners forced to cut corners
to make their dream home a reality?
So, today it's all about enlarging on a budget.
Is it possible to get the extra space you want
without breaking the bank?
The planners will meet
a couple who have taken a huge gamble on getting approval...
I'm glad he's started it, because time is not on our side.
Obviously, they do that at their own risk
and the risk is a refusal of planning permission.
..and a family who are desperate for more space,
but on a strict budget.
You're looking at £18,000.
I'm looking to maybe get it round the 15-mark.
I've never had an application with them on tracing paper still.
Can these families get the space they want
without spending a fortune?
Will their investments pay dividends
when it comes to reassessing the values of their homes?
And what will happen if their planning applications are refused?
West St Leonards sits on the edge of central St Leonards and Hastings,
away from the hustle and bustle of the shops and the promenade.
Many of the houses are a new addition
to the grand, Regency buildings on the waterfront,
with a mix of large Victorian properties and new-build estates.
There's a huge range of house prices here.
The grandest seafront homes will set you back
a whopping half a million pounds,
but there are well-maintained residential estates
where you can buy a modern family home
for a far more reasonable £150,000.
Hastings Council's Carol Boydell
deals with a huge number of planning applications for the area,
and she's never sure what's going to land on her desk.
I've got an application here for...
It's a two-storey side extension which can be very controversial.
Lindsey and Max Good live on a new-build estate
with their two sons.
They bought the house ten years ago for £155,000,
but the boys are getting too big to share a room,
so the Goods desperately need planning permission
to stay in a house, and an area, they love.
We can't afford to move, really.
The money that would be taken up in solicitor's fees and things
it would be important to us to extend this property and stay here.
Basically, we are extending the side of the house going out three metres,
going three metres by three metres.
And, basically, we are hoping to gain a bigger entrance hall
and a little utility room for Lindsey to do her washing in.
A washing machine and tumble dryer.
And then basically get this little fellow a bigger bedroom.
Cos we can't fit a bed in that box room. We've tried.
Getting planning permission has become a matter of urgency
for Max and Lindsey, but they can't afford to spend too much
extending their property and they can't live
in the space they currently have.
If you got a builder in I think you're looking at
about £1,000 a square metre in this area.
We've got an eighteen square metre extension
so you're maybe looking at £18,000.
I'm looking to maybe get it round the 15-mark.
Hopefully, it goes ahead, and if not we'll have to think about moving
in a year and a half because I think that's all they've got left
in that bedroom on their own I think, so hopefully...
The Goods want to save money building their extension
and have already saved roughly £1,000 by asking a friend
to draw up their plans instead of using a professional architect.
This is a unique case for Carol.
I must say I've never had an application with them
on tracing paper still. That is really unusual.
I think it's a friend of theirs that's done them
and although the quality of the actual drawings is not bad
we just don't have them on tracing paper!
And they're also very noisy and not very practical on site
so I might photocopy them and get them on A3 paper or something.
I don't know.
Basically, the room will actually be
just over double the size when it's done.
The box room is currently just two metres by two and half metres,
not really enough room to swing a cat,
let alone provide space for a growing boy.
I have got concerns, which is quite difficult,
because I heard the lady bring this application into reception
and I could hear from my desk that she was saying at the counter
that it was really important for them to have this extension,
otherwise they were going to have to move house,
and then this dear little voice from her son came along,
"But I don't want to move house",
and it was like, "Oh, no, please don't let me get that one."
In order for the Goods to get the planning permission
they desperately need, Carol has to perform a site visit.
Her priority is to protect the area. If she's not satisfied,
it could spell disaster for Lindsey, Max and the boys.
Time to take a trip 200 miles north to the cathedral city of Lincoln.
It's a historic place with a castle
commissioned by William the Conqueror
and beautiful, wood-timbered medieval buildings.
But Lincoln, like Hastings,
has its fair share of modern family developments.
Lincoln's Hartsholme estate is a public housing area
a stone's throw from the city centre.
It attracts families on a limited budget.
A typical three-bed semi will set you back 140,000,
which is 11 grand below average for the city.
Lincoln Council's Mark Foster oversees
many of the applications here.
He has to make sure no development ruins the character of Hartsholme.
Responsible planners take just as much time
and trouble over modern homes as they do over period ones.
This application is for a two-storey side extension. As well as that
they're proposing a single-storey extension to the rear.
Leon and Lindsay Sampson bought their semidetached house
for 90 grand two months ago.
They are expecting their second child
and desperately need more space for their new arrival.
It's 100% necessary. We need it.
We can't live in it as it is. We need it.
We couldn't have just a two-bedroomed house.
I've already got a son and I've got a girl on the way.
They need their own rooms.
Got to do it, really. It's not a question of love for it.
It's a question of necessity, really. It needs doing.
Leon and Lindsay want to build a two-storey side extension
making use of the extra garden space
around their end-of-terrace property.
They also want to add a single-storey extension
that will contain a kitchen and dining room.
-Dining room that end.
-Dining room that end.
This would be where you walk in.
We'd be looking 30-40 grand...
..for the extension to a decent quality
and that's calling in mate's rates and favours.
The Sampsons are keen to keep costs right down
and make their investment work for them.
If all goes well, they estimate the house will be worth
140-150 grand when finished.
Every day counts, and with money so tight,
they've taken a huge gamble
and started work before planning permission has been granted. Risky.
I'm glad he's started it because if we got to the point
and they gave us the OK then we'd have that much work to do.
-Well, it's two months.
-And time's not on our side.
There's nothing to stop anybody starting a development
prior to getting planning permission. Nothing to stop that at all.
Obviously, they do that at their own risk
and the risk is a refusal of planning permission
and, potentially, implications for what they've already built.
That could potentially end up having to come down.
I can't be three months behind in my eyes
because three months behind could cost me three months
having to rent somewhere.
We've got a mortgage that we're paying here.
You've got council tax that we're going to have to start paying here,
I don't earn that much money to be able to cover renting.
I can't really see any reason as to why I wouldn't get it.
Or we wouldn't get it.
Well, Mark can think of a few.
The single-storey element at the back is adjacent to the boundary
so we have to look at the firstly to see the impact on that neighbour
in terms of loss of light.
The extension appearing unduly dominant and over-bearing
and things like that.
The other issue is the impact on the street scene.
Even if they say "no", I'll appeal it.
If we can't appeal it then it'll be doing the inside up
and selling it and finding somewhere else.
If worst comes to worst, that's what we're going to have to do.
Leon and Lindsay's hopes of getting the planning permission
they desperately need depend on what Mark sees when he visits their home.
On the south coast in Hastings, Carol is performing her site visit.
Remember, she's looking into an application made by the Goods
who desperately need more space for their two growing boys.
It's Carol's job to ensure their proposed extension
won't look out of place in the street.
I'm just looking down the road at the moment,
just looking at what impact an extension would have
on the side elevation there.
The road kind of goes in a bit of curve. I don't think its going to be
too prominent but I'd like to just see
how far away from the side flank wall
it's going to come. The drawings say three metres.
Carol has to be very thorough.
She wants to check from every angle
to ensure the extension isn't too imposing.
The extension is a little more visible here.
I need to look at it a little bit more I think.
Yeah, I've got concerns from this angle
that it might be quite prominent there.
I think this one is borderline here.
Carol's big concern is a classic planning issue.
She worries the proposed extension
will have too much of an impact on the street scene.
She may ask for it to be reduced,
meaning the family will lose space, or it could rejected entirely.
-Hi, I'm Carol. We met in reception.
But Carol has also discovered another problem.
I could actually do with going through the drawings with you
cos I've had a look
-and you've put on there that they're three by three metres.
When I get my scale rule, it tells me the measurements of them.
It's not three metres.
-None of the elevations are three metres.
That's what it's going to be when it's built.
Right, so it's the drawings that are... Right, right.
Nine square metres downstairs, nine square metres upstairs.
Yep. That's all right.
So I can have a new bedroom.
It's you, is it? So you have a new bedroom?
Not to pressure me or anything!
I think I need to have a think about it and test it against policy
and you should hear fairly soon. This week. If not, next week.
Is that OK? All right?
-Thanks very much!
-Bye, boys! Bye.
I think it went really well.
Maybe a small concern that the drawings are out slightly
but we can get that amended, so hopefully that's going to be OK.
I think we're going to get it.
Sadly, Carol isn't as confident.
That didn't got too well.
I noticed on the plans that somebody had written three metres
and it was coming out as 2.8 by 3.5 metres.
So they do have to be accurate
because it's the drawing that's approved,
not what the applicant tells us it's going to be.
The drawings are critical.
I think if it is going to be granted
she's got to get herself an architect
but I don't know if she's going to need to yet.
Cutting corners has meant that the Goods' much needed extension
now hangs in the balance.
Right, over to the Sampsons in Lincoln.
Mark has arrived to carry out the vital site visit.
This will determine whether or not the Sampsons get planning permission
and whether starting the work early was a gamble too far.
A lot of these council estates
were built with buildings set back from the path
with space around them,
particularly when they're in terraces,
to give the illusion of space
and to allow that feeling that you're not hemmed in,
you're not crammed in and to give that illusion of space.
-Hello, Mr Sampson.
-Nice to meet you.
Mark Foster. Pleased to meet you.
-I've just come to take a routine site visit.
I won't take too much of your time.
-I'll just have a quick look round outside.
-That's fine, yeah.
Take a few pictures then I'll come back and have a quick chat with you.
-Just tell you what we do from now on.
Mark's first priority is to get
a good sense of the surrounding houses.
It's vital he makes sure their proposed extension
won't destroy the sense of space,
or be an ugly addition to the other houses in the street.
I'm just looking really at the street scene
and looking at the definition of the terraces.
They are each set in rows of four.
Each has a small two-storey element set-back on each end
to define that edge, so this proposal comes forward of that
so we need just to have a look at whether
that will unsettle the rhythm of the terrace.
From the back, obviously there's some markings out
and some debris in the back which indicate
that there's something been taken down already
and we just need to make sure that
the impact of what goes back is acceptable.
Mark has big reservations about how the extension blends in.
If his concerns are sufficiently serious,
Leon will have made a major mistake starting the work early.
What we need to address is,
and I'm not sure about it yet, I need to have another think about it,
obviously, you are bringing it forward slightly, aren't you?
Yeah, we don't like it to look uniform.
It can't look like one...
No, it's either got to be one or the other.
So, forward or back, I think.
We probably don't want it to be flush...
Yeah, you don't want it to be...
It's all about making sure that whatever we do and recommend,
it's just making sure we maintain the character
of the area which is obviously what you're trying to do,
so we need to look at that. We'll come back to you.
I'll have a look at it.
-Nice to meet you.
-Cheers, thank you.
He was fair with what he said.
That's always going to be the issue - visual impact.
Whether he tells me I have to step it back right behind,
hopefully I don't, because that's space I'm losing inside.
So, I'm hoping I can step it out and keep it stepped out,
because that's what you're going to lose
in your cavity and your plasterboards,
and the space I've tried to gain, I'll end up losing,
and I'm going to end up with smaller rooms.
I'm hoping I get what I've asked for.
It's quite a substantial-sized extension.
It moves into the existing side garden of the property.
So, we just need to make sure that's not going to have an impact
on the street which is an impact we wouldn't want to see.
The other issue with that is, obviously, this is a terrace.
The terrace is designed as a uniform terrace and, therefore,
any extensions to it need to be carefully managed.
Back in Hastings, Carol has called a crisis meeting
with the Council's senior planners.
The Goods have attempted to cut corners by asking a friend
to draw up their plans,
a move which could spell disaster for their hopes for an extension.
The applicant has written on this three metres here.
It's coming out by about 2.45.
Are these drawings more or less right,
but not what they think they are asking for?
It's all to scale. It's just got the wrong measurements
written on individually.
-That is it, isn't it?
To be honest, if it was 2.5, the impact would be less
-than if it was three metres so it's more likely to be OK.
Ironically, then, the fact that the drawing doesn't show
what they wanted it to show is actually better,
because it's more acceptable to us.
-But we wouldn't encourage people to make mistakes.
So, are we decided then that a three by three extension...
-Is a bit too big.
So, that's a no.
For us a three-metre square extension would be too big
in that location. It would look disproportionate
when you look at the front of the house
and when you're coming down the road at the side it would also look
too prominent and the proportions would be wrong.
It might sound that we are being a bit picky
but it is important that you keep
a feeling of space around these buildings.
If everybody built up to the back edge of the footpath
you'd end up with a kind of very narrow view down the street,
and you want a bit of space around these building.
With the planners in agreement, Lindsey is about to discover
that getting planning permission
is a lot more difficult than she anticipated.
Hello. Yes, it is.
OK. So have we got to start again?
All right, then. Thank you. Bye.
I suppose I'm happy because I didn't get a "no" no.
I got a "change it a little bit and it's a yes",
if that makes any sense.
So, yeah. Correct the drawings and then, hopefully, it will be a "yes".
Over in Lincoln, Head Planner Paul Seddon is equally committed
to the job of protecting the cityscape,
and he's a fan of well-designed estates like Hartsholme.
It's a public housing estate built immediately post-war.
Been built for over 50 years.
I think remarkably little change in much of it.
There's a real strong theme.
A real sense of character, real sense of design.
I think a real sense of thinking out, thinking through,
the homes that were being built for people
and what the environment was for them.
So, grass verges, trees within them,
front doors opening out onto the street.
You've got windows looking out there.
A good sense of enclosure within the streets,
but also that good sense of natural surveillance,
a sense of security that you do feel as you're walking around here.
The fact that it's public housing has probably limited
the amount of adaptation and change that's gone on in previous decades.
I think you're starting to see now some more house extensions,
perhaps of a larger scale than we would have done previously.
We need to try and make sure that it is the right kind of extension
when there is such a strong character within the area.
With such a rich design theme,
it's no wonder Paul is keen to uphold the area's character.
He has some advice for anyone
hoping to extend on limited finances.
We would always advise,
if you can, get a really good plan drawer or an architect
who can come up with some very clever ways of using a tight budget
and trying to really get the most out of it. It's worth the money.
It might not seem it sometimes, on a tight budget,
but you can certainly end up with a quicker
and a better result in the end of the day.
I think in another 50 years,
this estate will probably be largely like it is now.
I think the layout of it will still work.
In Hastings, Carol and the senior planning team
have had to think long and hard about the Goods' application.
The original square extension was a no-no,
but the rectangular plan that was mislabelled
on the original drawings,
was, ironically, more to the planners' liking.
The Goods are happy with the new design which gives them
an extra 16 and a half square metres of floor space,
but the 21-day neighbourhood consultation period
was a difficult wait for the family.
Today, it's the big decision.
It would mean a lot to us to get the approval,
just so we can stay here in this house, in this close.
The boys have got friends here, nice neighbours, we know everybody.
The only thing is, we've outgrown this house and the boys share.
So, we get this, the boys can have their own room
and everything will be good.
We always try to approve things, so it's not our job to refuse things.
It doesn't do anybody any good refusing stuff.
The only stuff we refuse is if it's going to have a really bad impact
on neighbours or the environment.
We try and approve them wherever we can
and we also and approve them as fast as we can
because we do understand that somebody wanting a little extension
or a conservatory, waiting two months for a decision can be
quite a painful, difficult process.
-Good morning, planning. Can I help you?
-Hello, is that Ray?
-It's Lindsey Good.
Right, you want to know what the decision is, I guess?
I'll just check the details. Just hold on one second.
He'll make us wait a bit longer.
I feel a bit sick now!
-Yeah, that's all fine
-so I can do the decision right now.
We'll do that and then we'll send it out this afternoon.
-So it's all right. It's been approved.
-So have I got it?
-Oh, thank you!
That's a "yes" for the Goods!
Changing the shape of their extension lessened the impact.
Yay! Oh, thank God for that!
A couple of people in the council get to decide our life
and how it's going to go...
..and the fact that we can now stay here and build an extension
and stay here for ever.
Really, really pleased.
With money and time tight, the Goods are keen to get started
as soon as possible.
Fast forward three months and work's under way!
Lindsey's got a new fringe,
and little Charlie is well on the way to having a new bedroom.
It did feel like for ever from putting in permission
at the planning to the building regs and then we could get started.
It did seem for ever but we're really pleased that it's started now.
But the million dollar question - how are the finances?
We think we're OK with the budget at the moment.
Hopefully, it stays that way, fingers crossed, and we'll be OK, yeah.
Really pleased that we've got as far as we've got.
Really looking forward to seeing the bedrooms,
seeing the windows go in,
seeing the roof go up and living in this space, really.
It'll be the house that we've sort of always wanted.
In Lincoln, Mark has been waiting 21 days
for all neighbourhood submissions
to come in before he issues his final decision.
That time has now passed, so Leon wants to know
if he's got the planning approval he and his family need.
One of the good parts of the job is definitely being able
to impart good news on people.
Certainly, we try and grant as many planning applications
as we can at all times.
But in the instances where we know it is a very important thing for a family, they're expanding,
often they're expanding very quickly,
and they need an answer very quickly.
As people, we are aware of issues that families are having.
We can't let that cloud our judgment.
It has to be done in accordance with the planning legislation.
Well, Mark has made his judgment and it's time for Leon to find out
if his gamble of starting work pre-permission has paid off.
WOMAN ON PHONE: Just hold on while I have a look for you.
I spend my whole life on hold.
Is that a two-storey side extension and a single-storey rear?
Yes, it is, darling.
Yep, OK. Let's have a look. One of Mark Foster's.
Oh, right. It's got a final decision on it, actually.
Let's have a look what that is.
Granted conditionally today.
So, it's a "yes" for Leon, his wife, son
and their soon-to-be-born daughter.
A massive relief. But there are some conditions.
"Samples of all external materials to be used in the development
"shall be submitted to and approved by the local planning authority
"before the development commences."
-Thank you very much. Cheers.
It's very common for planners to give conditional permission,
allowing homeowners to get on with their building work,
whilst specific design features or materials are finalised.
At least for Leon and the family, they are closer to their dream.
That's perfect for me, really. Game on.
Back over to St Leonards and the Goods' extension
is nearing completion.
They can now finally think about moving little Charlie
into his new bedroom.
It feels good that we've got to this stage.
From the outside it looks finished. We've just got the inside to do now.
The budget is looking good at the moment.
We're just waiting to have a few more bills in from people,
but we're looking like we're on target, so that's good.
Originally, this was our outer wall and this was just all we had,
a little box room, so now this is going to be Charlie's bedroom,
-isn't it, Charlie?
So I think it's going to be a nice, big room. It's got three windows.
Nice and light and airy.
You've got to imagine it painted.
My bed's going to be here.
My wardrobe's going to be here.
And I don't know where everything else is going to be.
I thought you said you wanted your telly in this corner?
I don't know.
We didn't want to move because we like it around here.
So, it is worth it.
I'm glad that Planning let us do it.
It's all been worth it in the end.
The Goods have planned it and built it.
They now have the room they vitally needed for their two boys,
plus, with the extra space,
they've added at least 10-15 grand to the price of their home.
Within a matter of months, the Sampsons
will have their much-needed extension, and by keeping costs down
they estimate they'll add an extra 50 grand
to the value of their home - an impressive achievement.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
This show is all about enlarging on a budget. Times are tough and money is tight but families up and down the land desperately need to increase their living space. So is it possible to extend without spending a fortune?
Both families in today's show prove that it can be done. The Goodes have a modern two-bedroomed home and have budgeted £15k to extend it. Can £15k buy a whole extra bedroom and the equivalent space downstairs? The answer is a resounding yes! The results are impressive.
Leon and Lindsey Samson have taken a huge risk and started work on their home before planning permission has been granted. They simply cannot afford to waste time waiting. It is a nerve-wracking process but, just like the Goodes, the Samsons come through smiling.