So the government’s decided to relax planning rules to help boost the economy. On the face of it, suppliers of new fitted kitchens like us should be welcoming this development. After all, one of the primary reasons homeowners give for building an extension is to install that brand new kitchen that they’ve always dreamed of.
But I can’t get more than mildly excited about the opportunity. Sure, we’d hope to see more prospective clients than normal if the process has truly been made easier for people to start projects that are caught within the legal red tape of local authority bureaucracy – a topic we’ve shared our experiences of with regular readers. But, to me, it feels as if the government is just tinkering around the edges if it’s serious about getting the economy moving faster and helping to raise consumer confidence.
I wrote last year about the excellent 2010 report the ‘Cut the VAT’ coalition, a group of 21 organisations with a vested interest in the housing repair, maintenance and improvement sector, who make some compelling arguments about the economic, environmental, employment and social benefits a reduction in the VAT would bring.
But despite the evidence it’s unlikely that the government, despite the EU saying it’s legally fine to do so, will implement a cut to 5% for fear of having to extend to other sectors of the economy.
And, for us, it remains to be seen whether local authority planning departments will truly let go of this area of their responsibility. And, even if they do, who’s going to alert Building Regulation inspectors – a level of bureaucracy that must still be involved in every project to ensure safe extensions are built and not just at the cheapest cost by cowboys who may now think they can slip under officialdom’s radar!
So we are where we are and, as potential beneficiaries, be grateful for small mercies. So if you are planning on extending your home in order to install that new kitchen you’ve always wanted, we would offer one piece of advice: talk to your chosen designer at the outset.
Why? A good kitchen design company will be able to advise you on the best way to make the most of your new space, where electrical sockets, gas feed and plumbing should be installed. Take our word for it, getting these established at an early stage and having us work closely with your builder will ensure you end up with the finished result you really want and not having to compromise or forego elements that wouldn’t necessarily be top of a general builder’s priority list at the outset! We have many examples, built upon years of experience, of clients who’ve followed this advice – and those who haven’t – but wished they had in the end!