Think extending is only about maximising space? Think again! Increasing light with a glazed extension is the latest way to improve your home
Extensions will benefit your home in so many ways, adding extra space to a house you may have outgrown and boosting the value of your property. But the way we’re extending our homes is becoming more adventurous than ever. Advances in glass technology allow glazed extensions, rooflights and pivoting doors to increase natural daylight and a feeling of space. From the simplest side return to a luxury double-storey or roof extension, it’s all about improving and adapting our homes to modern life.
If you’re plotting an extension, read on as we have all the advice you need for maximising both space and light.
ONE FLOOR OR TWO?
Single-storey, ground-floor extensions are mostly added to open up a kitchen, creating a multifunctional family space that fits the way we live today. A key selling point, they also enhance a house’s indoor-outdoor feel thanks to bifold doors and large windows. A two-storey extension is ideal if you want extra living and bedroom space, but you may need planning permission. That said, it’s better value than moving and will lower the average construction cost, as double height rarely means double the bill. You can also build an extra floor over an existing single-storey structure, such as a garage.
Neglected attics or eaves offer lots of potential. Separated from the house, they suit a main bedroom suite or study, while an enlarged dormer with frameless glazing adds wow. For roof windows, aligning them in a grid will create a feature and let in plenty of light – Velux has lots of options, plus an advice service to guide you.
Image credit: Velux
Reclaiming an unloved passage along the side of a period home will increase the ground-floor footprint. You may not be gaining loads more square metres and it’s not that cheap to do, but building into this space and fitting a glass roof will transform a narrow kitchen into the light-filled social hub of your home.
Image credit: Fraser Marr
A basement can be a more expensive option, involving excavation, specialist engineering and waterproofing. Period homes with cellars are ideal, or construct your own from scratch under a new extension. Draw in light via lightwells and sun pipes, and be aware of planning permission, as the policy on basements is currently under review.
Image credit: Velux
GLASS BOX EXTENSIONS
It’s hard to beat the ‘wow’ factor of a frameless conservatory or glass-box extension. Their ultra-modern design provides a bright living area, with unbroken views of the garden. They even work with period homes, but it’s essential to use the best-possible glass with a high-performance coating for year-round use. Building solely with glass is costly, but you can achieve the look for less by using smaller panes and ultra-thin low-profile frames.
Image credit: Jonathan Gooch
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Made up your mind about the type of glazed extension you want? These key points will help keep you on the right track.
1 Permitted development
Permitted development rights have made extending, converting a loft and adding rooflights easier – in many cases, you won’t need formal planning consent. But the rules are complex, so contact the local council, a planning consultant or achitect to make sure it’s safe to proceed. Check out planningportal.gov.uk.
2 Conservation areas
Rules are less generous if you’re in a conservation area or live in a listed property, and you may require extra consent.
Keep neighbours in the picture about your plans to avoid friction down the line. If you’re building up to a boundary wall, you’ll also need a party wall agreement, as well as written consent from your neighbours. If they decide to object or don’t reply, you’ll require a surveyor to oversee the process, to ensure you’re not damaging any neighbouring property.
Use an architect on a major build to provide design inspiration, plan the space, draw up accurate plans and ensure the project is compliant with planning rules.
5 Building managers
Decide who will manage your build. If you’ve used an architect or designed the extension yourself, you’ll need to find a main contractor or a project manager.
Be clear on budget and allow an extra 20% for surprises. Ensure the final design, costings and payment schedule are agreed before work begins. Prioritise your money by spending on structural elements that will add a sense of space – large windows, bifold doors and roof windows are worth it.
Will your current heating system cope? Check it’s strong enough to cater for the extra rooms you’re adding, as you may need a secondary system.
This article originally appeared in Ideal Home, June 2017