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If you want to add an extension, basement or loft to your existing home, it is usually easy to add some borrowed money to your existing mortgage with your current lender. Or you could change banks and negotiate the extra money in the new mortgage, based on any positive equity you might have in your property.
This is known as a remortgage, or mortgage refinance, and the banks evaluate the property based on the new works. With interest rates at all time lows, this is a great way to improve your house.
You could also just raise the money through personal finance (rather than business finance) if only a small amount is needed, because a remortgage, or mortgage refinance is a major step.
Mortgage refinance also means the amount borrowed for the job is paid back over the life of the mortgage - which does make it quite expensive overall.
Interest rates will go up in the next few years so make sure you can afford any higher payments.
Get proper quotes for any work and don't be optimistic as things always go wrong and cost more. Also you will probably add to the specification as you go along, costing more. This is all worth it as after the work has finished it is harder to add features.
Small works are covered by a standard Small Works RIBA UK contract. Make sure all the paper work is correct as you might end up in dispute, in which case the extra money spent on surveyors, quantity surveyors of architect's fees is money well spent. Don't learnt he hard way!
If you have plenty of cash you can negotiate better deals as the builders can be (part) paid up front as works progress.
Another way to save money is to buy fixtures and fittings yourself at auctions or second-hand, or from sales, then supply these to the builder. We are talking about fancy taps, light fittings etc rather than anything structural. To do this you must know exactly what you are doing as the parts might not fit or might arrive late, so this is more for those 'in the trade' already.
Builders are not keen on this as they know that delays cost money and aggravation. They might not even let you do it, so ask first. They might not be convinced in you say you read about it on a website!
Unusual items such as VOC free paint (we use Ecos paint in our business) has to be specially ordered so give the builders the product codes and let them do it. Then your input is the pleasurable task of catalogue shopping, and they do all the stressful bit!
So perhaps buy all the things you want well before building starts so they can see it is 'in stock' in your house somewhere.
Few builders do 'sustainable' or green building; despite what you read in the colour magazines. Typically if you want a green roof or solar panels you can find a company and sub-contract it to them. They will talk to your main builder and work out a project plan.