How should I approach my home extension?

Faced with high moving costs and a scarcity of homes currently available on the market, many homeowners are considering extending their property.  But navigating local regulations, budgeting, and choosing between the many options available can be difficult. 

We ask James Bernard, Director of Plus Rooms, a design and build company that has completed over 1400 home extension, for his tips on how you should approach your extension project.  

Work to a clear budget

Ideally, you want to be given a clear and transparent idea of costs ahead of the works, including architectural drawings, structural calculations, and getting the permissions in place.  If you’re looking to add value to your home, keep in mind that a wraparound extension will be more expensive than a rear extension, but you obviously get a much bigger space as a result, and the value per square metre is much better.

Research your local permission rules

Extension rules might vary from council to council, some local Governments allow wraparound extensions for example, but only under certain conditions.  The requirement is often to have a reduced wall height against the boundary wall, so it is an ideal choice if you own a terrace property with a side return space, it’s often useful to look at what other properties on your street have done. 

Rear extension can require less paperwork

Regulations tend to be more flexible, and you can often apply under either permitted development or prior approval – which can be a much simpler process.  So, I would say, if you don’t have an existing outrigger, consider a rear extension.

Bigger is not always better

Your garden is really important when it comes to calculating the value of your home, so over-extending can be counterproductive when it comes to selling your property.  Be mindful of the garden space your currently have and make sure that a certain proportion of it is retained post-extension.  If possible, try to incorporate unused side areas into a side return.  This will allow you to maximise your ground floor area without affecting the view and feel of your garden. 


Visualise how you will use your new space

A wraparound extension is the best choice for open plans because you end up with more space overall.  The room will also be better proportioned, making it easier to fit a kitchen / dining / living space into the area.  On the other hand, a rear extension extending onto the outrigger can allow you to make more of the space in your side return.  We find that it is a dead space for a lot of clients, so it can be a way to make more productive use of that area and help you make the most of your garden.

Rethink the traffic flow in your home

Adding an extension can attract more traffic to the rea of your property, and if this is not anticipated, it might affect your new space.  To help with this, at Plus Roos, we try to cut some of the traffic flow by targeting it to specific paths, Blocking up part of the opening into the rear reception, for example, can be an efficient way of doing this and gives the space the best chance of working in its own right.

Anticipate changes in your daily life during the works

Depending on the type of extension your choose, your daily life can be affected by the works, and that is something you will need to anticipate.  Setting up a temporary kitchen in another room will probably be required when the original one if decommissioned, so include this in your budget.  If you’re working from home, consider where you will have your working space to minimise disruption.

Take steps to prevent isolation loss during the works

It’s always best to work in sealed areas to live comfortably in the remaining parts of the house during the building works.  This is especially important in winter.  At Plus Rooms, we typically build our extensions first, ensure they are weathertight, and the connect them to the main house, so there is no disruption to the areas you live in.

Glazing might affect your energy bills

A lot of glazing on the back of a south-facing property will create a greenhouse effect, whereas a north-facing house will have to be heated a lot more if it has excessive glazing.  Building Regulations now require a lot of insulation from both the structural and glazing point of view, but it’s key to get the right balance of structure and glass.

Think of how your new space will work with the rest of the house

A new extension is often an opportunity to create a difficult atmosphere and a ‘stand out’ space within your home.  Still, you need to consider how the new area will connect with the original parts and rooms of the existing property.  Some people have a classic home internally, but they step away from this idea when they complete their rear ground-floor extension, and this creates a nice modern and traditional style fusion.  Choosing the same flooring, cornicing or wall colours throughout the whole floor an also provide a certain amount of consistency so that it’s not too jarring and can just help bring the difficult areas of the home together.