Planning your extension

With the ever-changing requirements of modern living, soaring moving costs and short supply of property, home extensions have become increasingly popular.

In the 21st century, many of us require very different kinds of family living space than are provided by our often traditionally designed homes. Kitchens, for example, have become more than places to simply store and prepare food – today they are often the most important social spaces in our homes.

Yet, at the same time, more of us are now also working longer hours from home so in addition to a computer space in the corner, we may also require a separate study or home office. These days, our grown-up children are more likely to be living with us and our elderly parents may also wish to be under the same roof. And for many of these now multi-generational families, one bathroom is never enough. Solving these problems by extending your home is often easier and more cost effective than moving – and we can certainly advise and assist you. Firstly, consider any space you already have in the house that may be under-used:

Do you have a large, empty loft? Or a garage the car is never parked in? Does your home include a separate dining room when mostly everyone eats in the kitchen? Howie Architects will always seek first to make the most of the space you already have as in many cases, this can help keep costs under control. Furthermore, it is important to ensure an extension does not end up creating new space at the expense of existing space – for example, losing one bedroom to create a corridor to a new bedroom.

This is where an architect can really help. Of course, extensions come in all shapes and sizes: they may be contemporary additions to older houses or they might be designed to blend in with existing period styles and to look as if they had always been there.

Both approaches can work but Howie Architects will always look to ensure the external design is sensitive to the existing property, referencing materials and aesthetic, whether in a cutting-edge, contemporary style or a traditional manner.

For a certain amount of extension work, planning permission may not be required. This is called “deemed consent.” Submission to the local authority is still needed, however, and again we can advise you on the best approach.

But even without planning consent it is still recommended to obtain a lawful development certificate. This takes the form of formal agreement from the local authority confirming that planning consent is not necessary. This certificate may be requested by conveyancing solicitor when selling your property but is also something I can advise on.

Single storey extensions

Extending your home out on just one level could provide you with much-needed extra space but careful consideration is still required.

Single-storey extension design can really enhance a home but needs to be carried out sympathetically to the existing building. If not, it could end up looking like a shoebox stuck on the back of a house as often happens if an architect is not involved. Single-storey extensions need to consider features of the existing house and this can influence the form of the extension particularly where the roof adjoins the main building. And there are many options when it comes to roof design: they can be flat-roofed, single-pitch lean-to, reverse lean-to or split-pitch – and there are many other possibilities too.

Two storey extensions

Those seeking to substantially increase the floor space of their home may wish to extend out at both ground and first-floor levels.

From a design perspective, there are a number of challenges for the architect. A two storey extension is often a bulky addition to a house so careful consideration needs to be given to integrating the new extension with the existing property roof in such a way as to not dominate and give an appearance of belonging. Contemporary and traditional styles are equally valid so long as the new and old sit together harmoniously. Greater consideration needs to be given to impact on neighbouring properties, especially when it comes to privacy and the right to light.