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The Different Types of Home Extension

Have you outgrown your house? Wish you had a little extra space? If you’re interested in extending your home, there are many different types of extension to consider. Home extensions can vary in scale from having a small porch constructed to having the roof of your house raised and another storey added. Find out more about the different possibilities to add more living space to your home.

Conservatories, Sunrooms and Porches

One of the simpler and smaller-scale extension projects you can take on for your property is to add a porch. A porch can be built at the front or rear of your property and is generally a small structure with a surface area of less than 3m2. This type of extension can offer a small space usually used to store items such as shoes, hats and jackets, or a larger space to sit and watch the world go by outside your house. One of the significant advantages of adding a porch to your property is that this type of alteration generally does not require making an application for planning permission given their size. You will, however, need to have the electrical infrastructure of the extension inspected by professionals or installed by an electrician possessing the appropriate qualifications. 

A conservatory is a similar type of addition, but is often larger and is constructed from different materials, such as UPVC and glass windows, timber or aluminium. Many small conservatories also fall under “permitted development” regulations in the UK, and you may not need to apply for planning permission as long as it won’t affect your neighbours. You could also consider building a sunroom, which is similar to a conservatory and as the name suggests offers a bright and luminous living space that can serve a variety of purposes. Sunrooms and conservatories are not only a great way to improve the amount of natural light in your home, but can also be a budget-friendly option to add space without building a full extension. 

A table and chairs outside a building

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Single-storey Extensions

Extensions can generally be broken down into five broad categories, depending on either their shape or how many stories they have. The most common of these is the single-storey extension, which as the name suggests is a low-level extension of your existing property. Extending the ground floor is often the most economical type of extension, since the engineering and architecture involved is typically less complicated. It also tends to be easier to get planning permission for this type of extension because it is significantly less invasive for your neighbours than their larger cousins. 

For a single-storey rear extension in the UK, you are allowed to build an extension from up to eight metres from the back of your home without being required to hold planning permission. Side extensions must also be single-storey to fall under permitted development, and their width must not be greater than half the width of the existing house. There are a wide variety of different uses for the extra space you’ll gain by building an extension, such as turning it into a home office, or creating an open plan kitchen or dining area. An extension can also be the perfect solution to adapt your family home to new needs, for example turning it into a playroom if you have recently had a child. A single-storey extension can represent a cost-effective way to make some more space for your growing family, without having to spend too much money. This type of extension is also a great way to add value to your home, as the increased space and modernity will make it more attractive to potential buyers in the future. This can especially be a concern if you are carrying out the extension in order to turn a profit or are not sure if you will stay in the house permanently. 

Two-storey Extensions

In need of even more space? While a single-storey extension may suffice if you’re just looking for some extra living space, such as a bigger kitchen or dining area, a double-storey extension can be the best solution if you also need to add sleeping space to accommodate your growing family’s needs. It’s a good way of adding a new bedroom or bathroom, rooms of the house which are generally located on the upper floors. While the overall cost of a multi-storey extension will likely be higher, due to more advanced engineering work and modifications to the existing structure of the house, it may also be a better value to add the most space for your money. A double-storey extension is often much more cost-effective than a one-storey extension in terms of price per square metre, which can make it a good investment especially if you live somewhere such as London where the amount of floorspace can have a major impact on the value of your property.

However, it is also worth noting that the amount of actual space you get with a two-storey extension may not be that much more than the single-storey version, depending on your property. Due to planning regulations, the footprint of a two-storey extension may be more restricted, since it represents more of an encumbrance for the neighbours. While some double-storey extensions may fall under permitted development, most will require planning permission, which is more likely to be granted if your property is an end terrace or fully detached house. While a rear extension is likely your only option for a terraced house, if you have a detached or semi-detached property a side extension can be a good choice if you wish to preserve your garden space to the rear. It may also be difficult to obtain planning approval if your house is a listed building or located in a conservation area, although this can be possible with the help of a local architect’s expertise. 

Over-structure Extensions

Another popular type of extension in the UK is to add an extra floor to the top of an existing structure, most commonly over a garage. This is known as an over-structure extension.  This type of extension has the advantage of being able to blend in much better with the existing house design, and you will also be able to retain the use of the garage. The type of space created by this alteration can also suit a variety of uses, such as to create a spectacular, spacious and luminous master bedroom, or a well-equipped kitchen with all of the modern conveniences you may require. It is also possible to add an over-structure extension on most houses built in the UK during the past fifty years. This extension is not without one significant drawback, however: it is essential to make sure that the existing structure of the garage is strong enough to take the weight of the additional structure. If the existing structure has only single-skin brickwork, then you will have to have this reinforced, which can end up more expensive than the cost of building a more traditional extension. In addition, it is highly likely that you will be required to apply for planning permission for such a project.

Wrap-around Extensions

You can also choose to enlarge your home with what is known as a wrap-around extension. This combines a side and rear extension together, creating a completed extension in the form of an L-shaped structure. This type of extension could allow you to create a large open-plan kitchen and dining area on the lower floor of your property, for example. A wraparound is a very flexible type of extension which allows you to create almost any kind of space you can think of, for example by enlarging the existing rooms on the ground floor of the property or creating new rooms such as a utility room, playroom or office. If you decide to go for this type of extension, bear in mind that it may be more disruptive and possibly expensive than some of the other types of renovation you may opt for, since it involves more demolition of interior walls. Of course, a wraparound extension also requires having the necessary space to the side of your property.

Extensions vs. Loft Conversions

Don’t have enough outdoor space to build an extension? Don’t want to eat into your garden? There’s another option to add more living space to your home. A loft conversion can be a great way to create an extra bedroom, home office or playroom out of space that often isn’t well utilised for more than storage. Find out more about the types of loft conversion to consider here


Ready to get started on your home extension project? Still not sure which type of extension would be the best choice for your property? Need help with planning permissions? Find an architect specialised in home extensions to guide you through the process and help you find the best solutions to get the most out of your home. 

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