Hankering after a bigger kitchen? You may not need to start thinking about moving. An extension could maximise your home’s potential, add extra living space and create a greater connection with the outdoors. With careful planning, it could also work out to be a more cost-effective option in the long term.
Your options will largely depend on the age and style of your property. If you have a period home, you could extend sideways to exploit the side return (that’s the dark and pokey passage that was originally the route to the outdoor toilet). You may be able to extend across the breadth of the house, known as a full-width extension. Alternatively, you may find that a side return extension combined with a rear extension, to create a wraparound effect, could suit the space better.
Whatever the age of your home, if you’ve got a large garden, you can think about extending outwards to create an L-shaped effect. This will add space as well as giving you more access to the garden. Or, if capturing daylight is your goal, consider a glass box extension to complement a modern home or make a counterpoint to period architecture.
An extension is a big project, and you’ll need to make some big decisions before you start. First, think carefully about your needs: why do you need the space and how do you plan to use it? This will help you tailor it to your lifestyle. You’ll also want to check how it will affect the value of your house – a local estate agent should be able to give a good indication. Once you’ve understood the financial basics, you can talk to the professionals. Be upfront about your budget (which should include a 10 per cent contingency fund to cover unforeseen costs) so that builders, architects and kitchen designers can realistically assess what they can achieve for the money.
Planning permission is another essential aspect to consider. You may not need to apply for it if your home is covered by permitted development (automatic planning permission for certain kinds of development) but this doesn’t apply if you live in a conservation area or an area of natural beauty, and there are other conditions too. For example, if your extension is more than half the area of land around the original house, you will need planning permission. Find out if your plans fall under the permitted development guidelines online at hoa.org.uk.
Whether your project requires planning permission or not, it will need to conform to building regulations. These ensure that building work conforms to legal standards for structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, damp proofing and ventilation. Does your extension fall under the Party Wall Act? It might if you’re digging new foundations close to your neighbour’s property, for example. Learn when you need a party wall agreement at HomeOwners Alliance (see website above).
Typically, a kitchen extension will open up to the great outdoors with glazed doors fitted across the rear. Popular options include bi-folding, sliding and pocket doors (although these can be costly: in general, the less frame you see, the more expensive it will be). If you’re concerned about light levels, try roof lights to bring light into darker areas of the space.