House extensions are becoming an increasingly popular way of adding some much needed space to cramped properties across London. However, as with loft conversions, there is quite a lot to consider when deciding which type of house extension is right for your home. We’ve put together this simple but informative guide to help you understand each style and make the best decision as to which one of the five will turn your home into something special.
Why a house extension could be a good idea
There are two main reasons why property owners choose to go for a house extension: adding space and adding value.
Almost all ground-floor properties in London qualify for a house extension, which is great news if you’re starting to feel a little constricted and dream of having some extra space to allow you to breathe. Most homeowners are more than happy to sacrifice a small portion of their garden if it means that they can now enjoy a spacious, well-lit kitchen all year round, whether it’s nice and sunny or pouring with rain.
The second reason is adding value to your property. Whether you’re a property developer or just a regular homeowner looking to one day sell for a profit, extending the property is arguably the best way of increasing its value. It can be a bit difficult to gauge just how much the value will go up, but looking at similar properties in your area and how much they’re selling for could be a good indicator.
What to consider when planning a house extension
Depending on which type of house extension you choose, the process can be extremely simple or require quite a bit of planning and legal consideration. Permitted development rights may make it seem like you can go ahead with the build regardless, but you will still need to get building regulations approval before starting any work. They will consider things such as structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, damp proofing and ventilation, to name a few.
That’s why its important to familiarise yourself with the guidelines and restrictions put in place. It is then much easier to plan ahead and narrow down your vision to something realistic and obtainable.
Another important thing to consider is exactly how much extra space you need – bigger isn’t always better. A smaller, cleverly designed extension which makes the absolute most of the space available is often a better option than going for the most square footage possible. Not only will a smaller, more efficient build save you money, it will also infringe less on your garden space and not disrupt the overall look of your property.
Choosing the right designer is also extremely important. As mentioned above, you want someone who knows how to maximise the effectiveness of your space usage by implementing intelligent techniques used by architects to ensure you get the most out of your build. A good designer will also have legal knowledge of requirements and regulations, which is essential in avoiding any hiccups down the line.
The 5 types of house extension
There are five main types of house extension: rear, side return, wrap around, over-structure and double storey. They essentially provide the same function, with each one adapting to the architecture of your individual property.
A rear extension is the simplest of the five types and a good starting point for understanding how they all work. A rear extension simply extends from the back of the property, usually the kitchen, and into your garden space. This type of extension is usually reserved for properties which do not have a side return, and so there is only one direction to extend.
Despite a seemingly small size, a rear extension will still allow for an impressive amount of additional space in your home. The space made available is usually used as a dining area for the family or somewhere for you to entertain your guests during those charming evening meals.
This type of extension has a few major things going for it. Firstly, the sheer simplicity makes it a great choice for those looking to avoid as much fuss as possible. Being less complex also means that the overall cost will be kept pretty low when compared with the alternatives. It is also great for lighting, where the placement of a rear extension allows for large skylight windows and full-width doors to let in the maximum amount of light.
Side Return Extension
A side return extension functions similarly to a rear extension, with the difference being that rather than extending do the rear, the property is extended to the side, making use of the side return, or small ‘alleyway’ between yours and your neighbour’s property.
This type of extension is perfect for those who wish to have a bit of additional space without causing too much disruption to the rest of their property. This is made possible by making clever use of the side return – a part of the property which normally sits empty due to its awkward shape. This shape provides the perfect opportunity to widen the kitchen without infringing on existing garden space – you get to keep the entirety of your rear while using the side for something useful! Perfect if you have a small garden.
Simplicity and cost are again the main selling points here, with the side return extension being relatively easy to build, taking less time than some of the other options and consequently also being among the least expensive of all options.
Wrap Around Extension
One of the most popular house extension types for London properties is the wrap around extension. The beauty of this style comes from combining a rear and side return extension into one – wrapping around your home and creating a huge L-shaped space which dramatically changes the layout of your kitchen and the overall feel of your home.
Ideal for those who have the luxury of having ample garden space, a wrap around extension allows you to extend as far back into your garden as you like, allowing you to create an enormous open plan kitchen or even a cosy conservatory to bask in the precious sunlight. The possibilities really are endless with this style, as its size allows for an incredible amount of additional space which can be used whichever way you see fit.
A wrap around extension will cost you a bit more than the two previous options, but that’s very understandable given the added complexity of this style. The benefit of doubling or even tripling the size of your kitchen is usually enough to convince most homeowners to invest a little more into their extension project.
Extending from a ground level is not always possible, or desired, and that’s where an over-structure extension comes into play. As the name suggests, this is where an existing part of the property, often a garage, is used as a base for building above it.
As this type of extension uses an existing footprint to build upon, it avoids infringing on other space and does not require you to sacrifice any garden space in order for it to work. This is great if you are looking to keep your garden as large as possible but would still like to have a bit more breathing room in your home.
Double Storey Extension
So what if you’re looking to gain the absolute most amount of space with an extension? Well, then a two storey, or double storey extension may be the best option for you. This is where the property is extended just as it would with a rear, side return or wrap around extension but with an additional level on top.
If building an additional level sounds complicated, that’s because it is, also requiring more planning, permissions and a higher budget. However, the benefits of a double storey extension make it a viable option for many homeowners, offering the capacity to add an extra room on the second level, such as a bedroom as well as opening up the kitchen area.
Which type of extension is right for you?
And those are the 5 most common house extension types. Each offer their own unique benefits to turn your property the home you once dreamed of.