• Julie Bliss

Extension: No foundations required

I’ve become a little bit obsessed with Your Home Made Perfect! It took me a while to get into, but the BBC2 programme, now at the end of its second series, uses VR to help clients visualise their reworked space and it's actually quite mind-blowing on occasion and offers up some great ideas.

The programme follows a format of two very different architects, Robert and Laura battling it out for the job, while the enthusiastic, but fairly green clients try to get their heads around the incredible concepts presented to them!

Sadly, most small architects and designers / clients would simply not be able to afford VR technology, but maybe one day in the future it will be easily and cheaply accessible for all and become the norm!

Aside from the VR element, the ingenious designers do really offer some great ideas for the regular homeowner looking to revamp, reconfigure or revitalise a space that’s not working well for them.

One particular idea that I am currently presenting to a client, is the ground floor extension with 'no foundations required'.

This contemporary and clever way of extending your home is done using timber joists like cantilevers from the existing building, to extend outwards above the ground level - almost floating - meaning no foundations or messy, expensive groundwork, no interruption to plumbing / sewers and no costly surprises. This lightweight timber system simply works with the existing foundations and joist structure but is only suitable for small extensions, as if you were building a deck area (you just add in a lightweight timber frame extension).

Another "almost no-foundations" extension technique which is very widely used, is the steel based "Durabase" system that creates a modular steel structure that basically floats over the ground, with the only groundwork being to sink a few concrete pads on which to position the steel frame. The frame is then clad with either timber or brick cladding and you'd never know the difference - except it's a lot faster and less messy than a normal extension.

Similar is the QuadraBase system, is a suspended modular floor system, which uses QuadraPile helical pile foundations to create a concrete free foundation and floor for your modular building or extension. They are perfect for modular or pre-fabricated structures and completely compliant with building regs. It's all very clever.

Aside from budget and mess, these methods also have the benefit of no issues with party walls and they are both super quick and simple to build, perfect for small extensions in tight or restricted areas and no need to divert plumbing or waste pipes.

I absolutely love these two no-foundations methods and will definitely be recommending to clients who have ground or space restrictions, as they're both extremely cost-effective ways of extending on a limited budget.

The things you learn from TV!

What useful ideas have you picked up from the home improvement programmes?

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