How has Brexit affected the home improvement market?

home improvement market Brexit

London has not only seen a property boom of late, it has also experienced an explosion in home improvement projects. Extensions have long since been a popular way for Londoners to increase space and create modern, family friendly spaces. However, with the UK voting in favour of Brexit, what does this mean for the home improvement industry in London?

It’s still early days and though much has happened since the result was announced on 24th June, what will happen in the long term is anyone’s guess. However, a short term picture is beginning to emerge.

A drop in house prices in London is happening and in the upper end of the market, stagnation is likely. Faisal Durrani, head of research at property firm Cluttons, told The Guardian that: “the prime central London market had been slowing for more than a year, but had been ‘amplified’ by the referendum result.”

The number of homes changing hands is expected to slump this summer. A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that new buyer enquiries declined ‘significantly’ during the month of July. However, demand was already beginning to fall even before the Brexit vote due to higher levels of Stamp Duty and stricter mortgage criteria.

Currently, the economic outlook is not looking as bleak as some had feared. However, Uncertainty is causing some experts to predict that the economy will shrink in the third quarter.

These economic headwinds could mean that the trend to ‘improve not move’ could gain further momentum, as moving will look even less appealing.

However, all of the uncertainty means homeowners may delay plans to improve. Rob Wood, owner of Simply Extend says, “to date the impact of Brexit on our business has been minimal. We’ve had quite a few clients delay decisions by a couple of weeks since the referendum result, but are now deciding to move forward as there doesn’t appear to be any short-term financial risk.”

As the nation comes to terms with the result of the EU referendum, which saw 52% vote for Brexit and a new government in place, people are starting to get their confidence back despite the backdrop of uncertainty.

Wood is no stranger to economic headwinds. He began his business in 2008, the start of the Great Recession, with his wife Helen Wood. However, this did not stop them winning work.

“It was the fall in house prices in 2008 and 2009 that saw the trend for improving not moving,” said Wood. “In unstable times people look for certainty and offering fixed prices helps clients to feel reassured. What homeowners don’t want is any surprises. ”

Invest in your property with an extension and create the space you and your family need. Our fixed prices help you manage cost and you will be assigned your own project manager, who will oversee the process from design and planning through to completion. If you want to improve not move, contact us on 0800 917 7571 or click here to fill out a free site survey form.

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How to make the most of open plan living?

How to make the most of open plan living1

When homeowners opt for an extension, many use it to create an open plan space in their home. Open plan has adorned magazines and interior TV shows for some time – it’s like the jeans of the interior world, no matter what the latest trends are, open plan is always at the party. So why has it endured for so long and how do you make the most of open plan living?

While the idea of open plan living has been with us ever since humans started to build permanent structures, it was Frank Lloyd Wright who popularised modern open plan living as we know it today. Wright designed houses in this way so that the housewife would be “more hostess ‘officio’,” instead of being in the kitchen behind closed doors. Of course, in more modern times the simplicity and practicality of such spaces are why they have endured.

A large open space may seem easy to work with, however, it’s not as straightforward as it looks. Here are our top tips on how to make the most of open plan living.

Planning the space

Open plan spaces are never really truly open, there is always something that divides each space for its purpose. When you are creating a kitchen, islands or breakfast bars can be used, not only as a handy storage area and somewhere to eat, but as a border to define where the kitchen begins and ends.

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Storage units are also a good way to break up a room. You can use bookcases or shelving units which can act not only as a flexible wall to help you create distinct ‘zones’, but also a design statement in itself.

If you plan on having a lounge area you can use a sofa, chaise lounge and rugs to define the space.

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Colour

To keep constancy and flow, its best to keep the colour scheme fairly neutral as this gives an easy backdrop to work with. If you want to inject colour you can do so to distinguish individual areas. Patterned wallpaper or tiles also work well. To make this succeed you will need any colour or pattern you choose to work with your natural backdrop or you risk not having a consistent look.

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Flooring

Flooring needs to be practical as well as create a sense of flow. If you have a kitchen in your open space you can opt for wood, stone or tile flooring throughout and soften it with rugs, where needed. Rugs are also helpful for distinguishing different zones.

Another option is to have different flooring levels. Having a step from the kitchen down to the dining or living area helps to break up the room.

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Lighting

Ensuring you have the right kind of lighting for every zone in the room can be difficult as each space requires different kinds and levels of lighting.

In the kitchen you will need bright lights so you can see what you are cooking, so opt for downlighters. For dining spaces, a popular trend right now is for three low pendent lights over a long six to eight seater table. If you have a four seater table, one light will work just as well.

To give soft lighting to lounging areas lamps can be used and if you want to use lighting to define your zones, then spotlights can be very effective.

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If you are looking to create your own open plan space with an extension then Simply Extend can help. We are a leading home improvement builder based in London and we have helped create beautiful homes with side and rear extensions. For a no obligation site survey please call on 0800 917 7571 or contact us online.

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A guide to timber cladding your extension

With the popularity of programs such as Grand Designs and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, timber cladding is now firmly back in fashion.

timber cladding extension

Why timber clad your extension?

Timber cladding can be a design statement, an insulation protector and a sustainable building material – especially if locally sourced wood is used. If you are building a timber framed extension, timber cladding can be a cheap and lightweight build compared to masonry. Hugo Tugman, founder of Architect Your Home and Interior Your Home told Real Homes magazine that “Timber cladding can introduce a completely new character, sometimes used in blocks, breaking up a bland masonry façade and creating more depth, modelling and composition to an elevation. Such cladding is often used to great effect in upgrading old council houses.”

For historical houses timber cladding can be used to play up the differences between materials and the eras in which the house and the extensions were built.

How much will timber cladding cost?

Like with most things, the cost of timber cladding varies on what kind of wood you use and how much you need. For example, the Western cedar, which is grown in the UK can start at around £3 per metre and go up to over £7 a metre while European larch starts at around £2 per metre. Labour costs will also be needed to be factored in.

“Cedar wood is usually used to achieve a nice effect,” said Helen Wood from Simply Extend “This can prove costly though to clad an entire extension so some of our clients choose to clad only a section of the exterior.”

Is it hard to get planning permission for timber cladding?

Depending on where you live and the type of house you have you will need to apply for planning permission. In 2008, a change in permitted development rules saw the introduction of the requirement that the materials of an extension would have to be “similar” to the materials of the existing house. However, this does not mean there is no point in applying for planning permission. There is now a line of thinking that an extension should be different from the original building for legible and honesty reasons.

What kind of timber is there?

There are many types of timber cladding but the most popular are Western cedar, European larch, Siberian larch, European oak, Sweet Chestnut and Douglas fir.

  • Western Red Cedar is currently one of the most popular forms of cladding and can be grown in the UK. If left untreated the wood fades to a silver/grey colour. One thing to take note of is natural oils in the timber have a corrosive effect on ferrous (iron) material, so avoid the use of galvanised or stainless-steel if you wish to use western red cedar cladding.
  • European Larch is a softwood and is mainly home-grown, making it a good suitability option. Left untreated it will weather to silver. If you live in exposed coastal areas its expected service life can be shortened.
  • Imported from Russia, Siberian Larch is higher in quality than European larch. This is because it is slow growing and thus has fewer knots. This is one of the most expensive forms of cladding.
  • European Oak is a durable hardwood. Rustic in appearance, oak can be one of the most expensive cladding materials but it is sustainable and is grown in the UK as well as on the continent. If left untreated the oak will change to silvery grey.
  • Sweet chestnut is similar to European oak in the way it weathers. It can be expensive and is generally only available in small quantities.
  • Douglas Fur goes by many names such as Oregon pine, British Columbian pine or Columbian pine. This pacific coastal pine is a softwood and fades to silver grey.

No matter which wood you opt for make sure your materials are either FSC or PEFC certified. This means that the wood has been taken from a sustainably managed forest.

If you are interested in having an extension built in your London home the call Simply Extend 0800 917 7571 on email for a no obligation quote.

 

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How to create indoor outdoor space with an extension

Southwood Lane

‘Indoor outdoor spaces’ is the buzz word of the moment in interior and garden design. However, this is not just a fad, it’s a great way to gain more space and light into your home.

The UK has been slow to embrace designing their homes to incorporate indoor/outdoor spaces. Some postmodern houses built in the 60s-70s did incorporate the idea and it has been popular among self-builders, but it has never really taken off in the main stream. In the US, Canada and Australia the concept of indoor outdoor space has always been popular.

Some might blame the British weather; gloomy, wet and unpredictable; it does not invite one to spend time outside. However, it’s exactly because our weather is unpredictable that indoor outdoor spaces should be embraced. There is something cosy about sitting in chair, coffee in hand, watching the rain fall while you are sheltered and warm. Also, removing the barriers between indoors and outside makes having barbeques far more pleasant.

Happily, things are changing, and thanks to things like Pinterest and the TV show, Grand Designs, the UK is discovering how indoor outdoor space can transform your house. Some will even argue that it will transform your life as well!

What is indoor outdoor space?

What is indoor outdoor space exactly? There are many variations but, to put it simply, it is a graduation of indoor space into outdoor space. This is achieved by introducing roof overhangs, wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling glass or bi-folding doors, cloistered walkways, courtyards, light wells and wall projections. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just examples of how indoor outdoor spaces are created.

Another design aspect of these spaces is the continuation of flooring or other building materials from inside to outside. Basically what you are trying to achieve is a blurring of the boundaries and to draw the eye outside.

Indoor outdoor spaces were a core belief of American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He argued that man and nature were one and should never be separated, and he strove to achieve balance between man’s need for shelter and his need to connect with nature. He pioneered homes across the US from Buffalo, New York to the Arizona desert that incorporated indoor outdoor spaces and open plan living.

How to get indoor outdoor space in your home?

You don’t need a modernist or post-modern house worthy of Frank Lloyd Wright to create indoor outdoor space. It can be achieved in a Victorian terrace, Georgian town house or a 20th century property. You don’t need a huge garden either, bringing the outside in can be created even with a courtyard garden.

The most effective way to do this is to have a rear extension with wall-to-wall bi-folding doors, floor to ceiling windows or create an overhanging roof. Simply Extend have designed a number of extensions that bring in light and blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors. For more information on how we can create a rear extension that can bring the outdoors in, contact us on 0800 917 7571 or click here.

Take a look at some of our work below.

Simply Extend London home extension kitchen

Kitchen extension in Keniford Road, Balham

This side return extension makes the most of the light with floor to ceiling windows and bi-folding doors.

Simply extend kitchen extension london home extension

A rear kitchen extension with bi-folding doors that opens out on to decking space

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Flat roof rear kitchen extension that opens out on to a garden patio – perfect for summer parties.

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Proving you don’t need a large garden to bring the outdoors in.

A home extension in London could be used to create a completely new flat.

A home extension in London could be used to create a completely new flat.

It’s not just living spaces that can be opened up to the outdoors, an extension can incorporate a bedroom that will be ideal for stargazing.

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This contemporary kitchen in a rear extension blurs the lines between the indoors and out with bi-folding doors.

Sussex Road

This rear extension softens the transition between the kitchen and patio with bi-folding doors and skylights.

light-filled-kitchen-rear-extension

This light filled kitchen in a rear extension brings the outdoors in.

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Top home Trends for Spring/Summer 2016

The long winter nights are getting shorter and shorter by the day so it’s time to come out of hibernation and reinvigorate your home with the latest trends for Spring/Summer 2016.

Pink

Pink is not just for three-year-olds who are going through a princess phase and this is not about bubble gum and hot pink. Grey-pink or dusty pink – the colour of flamingos or of early sunsets that’s what we’re talking about. This whimsical shade works well on a feature wall, as a textile or you can use accessories to give your home that Grey-pink accent. Contrast with bronze, dull gold or green.

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Leaf and foliage prints

Whether its ferns from a British forest or bold jungle foliage, leaf and botanic prints is a trend that is looking to take 2016 by storm and not just in the world of interiors. Fashion has also succumbed to prints inspired by the natural world. Be confident with this trend try it on wallpaper, soft furnishings and upholstery.

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Ratten

Ratten became popular during the colonial period with the opening of trade routes to the Far East. It became the height of fashion after the Brighton Pavilion was built and a number of the furniture was made out of the vine like wood which is closely related to palm trees and grows in the jungle. Ratten piece are ideal for light filled open plan spaces and conservatories.

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Eco

We are becoming more aware that cheap plastic goods harm the environments so we want become more eco-friendly and get back to nature. Many companies are now offering sustainable furniture pieces that have a rustic charm as well as sound eco credentials such as FSC approved.

Bold block colours

Go bright, go bold in your home! Colour blocking in bright shades is making a big impact this season. However, remember to stick to colours that work together it’s about bright bold harmony not clashing. Use textiles, soft furnishings and statement furniture to bring these colours together.

Folk

Taking a leaf out of the Arts and Craft movement, folk infusion is here. Think statement floral cushions, painted furniture and rustic wood. Nordic folk, which is set to lead the trend, combines northern folklore with Scandinavian landscapes. Get the look with print cushions, emerald green and off white.

Handmade

In this age of mass manufacturing, we all yearn to have something truly unique – handmade products gives us that. As much as we would all love to have a house full of artisan furniture, the price tag is too much for most. So how can you get in on this trend if your budget is more Ikea than master carpenter? The answer customise shop bought products.

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Which home extension type is right for you?

The type of home extension you go for generally depends on a couple of factors – what you need the extension forand how much space you have to extend into. At Simply Extend, we believe that both of these factors are important but what you actually need the extension for just nudges into first place.

Ultimately it will be this need that motivates you to look into London home extensions in the first place and that will dictate what you want to get out of the finished article. While how much space you have for the extension is important, we can help you achieve what you want with the space you have – whether it’s a relatively small side-alley or a large rear garden.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some of the top reasons for needing a home extension in London, and suggested how you might achieve it with the space you have.

I need a bigger kitchen

Pokey kitchens are no fun, especially if you regularly cook for your family or for guests. If you just want to extend your kitchen, a side return extension is ideal if you have a side-alley to extend into. This could double the size of an existing galley kitchen, for instance, or create a bigger space from a hallway to move your kitchen into.

Which home extension type is right for you1

I need a bigger kitchen and living space

If you’re after a bigger kitchen and accompanying living space – perhaps for an open plan design ideal of for entertaining – then a rear extension or wrap-around extension will be the best choice for you. A rear extension goes backwards into your garden, while a wrap-around extension does this as well as extending to the side of your home. These can create large amounts of extra space perfect for a large kitchen-diner or kitchen and living room.

Which home extension type is right for you2

I need more space upstairs and downstairs

If you’re looking to get some extra kitchen and/or living space downstairs and a new bedroom or bathroom upstairs then you want to look at a double storey extension. Usually this would be to the rear or side of your property and would create new space on both floors. Perfect for expanding London families that want to avoid the stresses of moving, a double storey extension gives you a much bigger house – with increased value – at a fraction of the cost.

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Whatever your home extension needs are, at Simply Extend our friendly team can talk through your plans to help you get the most out of your home. Get in touch today to arrange a free site evaluation.

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Top kitchen trends for 2016

Many London home extensions are built in order to house brand new kitchens, creating much-needed living space for growing families and many people take the opportunity to create a completely bespoke space that fulfils all of their needs. Whether it’s state-of-the-art appliances, generous space or beautiful design, Simply Extend can help you to create the kitchen extension of your dreams.

To help you decide on your perfect kitchen, we’ve hunted down some of the must-have kitchen trends of 2016.

Open plan living

Open plan spaces are hardly a new thing, but social spaces are a big part of 2016 interiors and so kitchens that provide a sociable area for entertaining are a must. Think a breakfast bar or island acting as a divider between your kitchen and a living and dining space where you can cook while chatting to guests.

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Modern country

Country kitchens have long been popular in the UK, but we’re now seeing a contemporary twist reduce the twee-factor and give the style a modern-makeover that feels more retro-vintage than old fashioned. Blending soft pastel tones with rich woods such as walnut give a more contemporary look, while keeping that rustic feel.

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Mid-century design

If your tastes veer more towards modern than traditional, you’ll be glad to hear that the mid-century, Nordic style infiltrating homes is making its way to the kitchen this year. Combining white with lighter wood textures will capture style beautifully, as will keeping surfaces free of clutter – everything should be minimalist and functional.

Under-cabinet lighting

Another example of something that’s been around for a long time making itself heard in a big way, lighting strips under cabinets are a must-have for your 2016 kitchen. Perfect for mood lighting, or simply for focussing a light on to your counter top (great for cooking), this style of lighting is also great in open plan kitchen-living spaces where you perhaps don’t want your kitchen brightly lit while you’re not using it, but you also don’t want it in darkness.

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Smart storage

Storage has always been a big aspect of kitchen design, but 2016 is the year it gets smart. With lots of hidden drawers and cupboards masquerading as flat wall panels, you’ll have plenty of places to hide your cookware, while maintaining a high-end look.

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Simply Extend have years of experience building beautiful kitchen extensions in London. Drop us a line today to discuss your plans and we’ll help you get the space you need with the design you want.

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A guide to underfloor heating

 

Simply Extend London home extension kitchen extension underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is a great way to add warmth to your new London home extension without radiators using up valuable wall and floor space. But which type to choose for your project? At Simply Extend, we’ve put together a quick guide to what you need to know about underfloor heating.

There are two main types of underfloor heating system. The most common is wet underfloor heating. This uses your boiler to warm up water and then pumps heat through tubes installed under the floor – much like a standard gas central heating system, but without the need for radiators. Although more expensive to install, it is generally cheaper to run in the long term.

Simply Extend London home extension kitchen extension underfloor heating

The other option is electric underfloor heating. This uses electricity to produce heat under your floor and, as such is more costly to run – although it is cheaper at the point of installation.

The main thing to note with any type of underfloor heating is that you should be careful with real wood flooring. If it’s not acclimatised to the heat then the wood may bow and warp. This is one of the reasons why tiles tend to be a popular choice in kitchen extensions when underfloor heating is being used. If, however, you do want the look of wooden flooring – try engineered wood as this will not warp and does not need time to acclimatise.

Contact the team at Simply Extend today to discuss your London home extension project – we can guide you through every aspect including your heating choices.

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Kitchens to Entertain In

As Christmas approaches we all start thinking about how we can transform our London homes into fantastic spaces for entertaining with plenty of room for that dream kitchen, perhaps in an open plan layout with a beautiful dining area where guests can mingle and chat before sitting down to dinner.

That being said, not everyone has the luxury of space to create a kitchen for entertaining, which is where a London home extension from Simply Extend can come in useful. With a rear extension, side return extension or wrap around extension, it’s possible to create a luxurious space with a kitchen island or breakfast bar and an open plan dining or living area with seamless access to your garden or patio.

At Simply Extend, we can even manage and source your new kitchen with our partners at Tineo Designs so that you can have your new kitchen as a part of the overall home extension project. For inspiration on your fabulous kitchen for entertaining, take a look at some of our past projects below.

If you’re planning on creating a home extension in London to encompass your dream kitchen, contact the team at Simply Extend today to see how we can help you.

 

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Home extension door choices

Simply Extend London home extension blog french doors

When you’re planning your home extension in London, you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about what you’ll be able to do inside that new space. Whether it’s deciding on the fixtures and fittings for your new kitchen or the soft furnishings for your new lounge area, you’re bound to devote a lot of time to cutting pictures out of magazines, collecting swatches and browsing shops.

You may not spend quite as much time, however, thinking about how you’ll connect that inside to the outside, but this can be just as exciting. The exterior door choices that you make can define the whole room, connecting it to your garden, patio or yard in dynamic ways, as well as bringing additional natural light into the space. We take you through some of the most popular door choices you have when planning your extension.

Bi-fold doors

Simply Extend London home extension blog bi-fold doors

Bi-folds are one of the most popular doors we are asked to install at Simply Extend, and it’s easy to see why. Available in a wide array of colours and materials, they can work with many different London home extension décors and they are amazing when it comes to connecting your home to your garden.

As they fold, they can open right out in order to create seamless movement between your garden and extension – perfect for creating an inside-outside dining experience with a kitchen extension. Plus, the expanse of glazing fills your home extension with natural light and provides beautiful views across your garden.

Sliding doors

Simply Extend London home extension blog sliding doors

Sliding doors offer a similar look and feel to bi-fold doors in that they seamlessly connect your home extension to your garden or yard. However, they are better suited to larger extensions as one panel has to remain static. The large glass panels are less broken up by frames than bi-folds, creating a beautiful effect even when closed.

French doors

Simply Extend London home extension blog French doors

French doors are a much more traditional style and so are popular with those who want to retain a much more traditional feel for their home. The glazed panels allow for lots of natural light to filter into the space and the double doors help to create a connection between inside and out while still retaining the original style of the property.

No doors

Sometimes your extension will not require a door and it’s important to bear this in mind. If, for instance, you are building a side return extension on to an open plan kitchen dining area which already has an exterior door, you may just need windows to bring in additional light. Similarly, a very small extension may not require an exterior door at all.

Whatever style you’re looking at, our team of London home extension experts can help you plan your new space perfectly. Contact us today to discuss your project.

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