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The 3D Guide to House Extensions

SO it feels like your all living on top of each.

The kids are bigger and wont share bedrooms anymore. Perhaps you and your better half your are arguing about what channel to watch on TV  - an extra sitting room can be the instrument of domestic bliss - Perhaps work is changing and you need an office or an elderly relative needs more care than they can provide for themselves and so moving in with you makes sense for everyone. If any of these or a multitude of other overcrowded house symptoms affect you then it's simple - you've grown out of your house. Time to move - or is it?

Whilst moving is the obvious solution its generally accepted that extending is cheaper than moving. There are various reports on the costs of moving house and the total will clearly vary depending on the property you are moving to and from.

Many people are emotionally attached to their home, love the location, neighbours, amenities, schools etc Extending your house can mean many more happy years in your home and in the location you love, but how do you make sure dream extension gives you all the additional space you need without making your home look like the architectural equivalent of dogs dinner?

Design for Function or Style?

Well one way would be get a high flying architect on board from the get go but for most of us hiring  Sir Norman Foster Building won't be an option. But you probably don't need to go to these lengths -  building any extension can be quite straightforward and a flat roofed, new brick box can be certainly be a very cost effective way create the space you need. But a lot of modern house extensions don't do any aesthetic favours the building they are attached to. For an extension to be truly successful it must work with and compliment your house (even though it may be different in form & design) as well as giving you the space you need and be within your budget. Even if it costs a bit more you should think about the long term and flatter your home with good architecture. Not only will you enjoy it more you will see the benefit in resale value when you eventually do decide to move on.

Look around you

OK so you've decided that an extension is the way forward now you just need some inspiration. Get out and about into your neighbourhood and see what extensions your neighbours have already built especially on houses of a similar style and age to yours. Look at them with a critical eye for the architecture and aesthetic considerations as well as the space and practical considerations. If you are feeling bold enough knock on ask if you can take a look at their extensions - most people would be quite flattered!  Take a critical view about what you see and how it works with and compliments the house. Ask them about how the space works for them what issues they would have what they would have done differently with the benefit of hindsight especially:

Consult the professionals early in the process

Once you have your inspiration and ideas it is generally a good idea to get your house extensions experts involved at this early stage. They can help guide you as to what is feasible and possible within your anticipate budget (broadly speaking). Keep in mind that although you may be able to extend without the need to apply for planning permission under the permitted development rights (recently relaxed), additions to your home that pre date your occupancy may leave you with less space to play with than a neighbour who you are looking to copy might have had. They will be able to advise you as to what is possible.

The way forward

There are a number of different options to consider all driven by the space you need, what you need it for, what your budget, what options your home will physically work with and, of course what looks great.

Traditional house extensions

House extensions, if you have the space and access are an obvious choice and can have any number of configurations but generally fall into single or multiple stories, side or rear elevation. A traditional extension, well designed & built and which complements the existing house can often add real value to your property.  

Loft Conversions

Converting a dusty, junk laden attic or loft into light and airy living accommodation may sometimes be the quickest and most cost effective solution to your space needs. Loft conversions can have several advantages over extensions (land, cost, speed) and can be often be completed without the need for planning permission. However, converting your loft will usually require building regulations approval and depending on the type of loft you have (and particularly the available headroom) may limit the usable area or sometimes even prevent you from converting it at all.

Garage Conversions

Converting an unused single or double garage may be the solution to your space needs especially where the garage in integral to the house. Most single garages these days are not used for parking a car as they are generally too small for larger modern cars and that space can be better used. Garage conversions have a number of advantages over traditional extensions (again speed, space & cost) and also may be completed without the need for planning permission (but will require Building Regulations approval).

Cellar Conversions

If you are lucky enough converting an existing cellar (or sometimes even creating a new cellar) may be the solution to your needs. Cellar conversions often do not need planning permission and can provide soundproofed accommodation, free from dramatic temperature changes. A cellar conversion will require building regulations approval if it is to be used as habitable space and attention needs to be paid to daylight and ventilation requirements but modern materials and methods mean that dampness, ventilation  and lack of light are not the problems they once were.   


Adding a conservatory to your home is often the simplest and cheapest way to create light & airy spaces and provide a bridge between outdoor and indoor living. With modern heating and insulation the conservatory can now used all year round. Most simple conservatories are exempt from planning permission and building regulations approval and they are generally far less expensive and much quicker to build than traditional extensions. Modern conservatories donít slavishly the Victorian style but can be wonderful design statements as well as great living spaces.