For a lot of households, there comes a time when your home becomes a bit of a squeeze. Maybe growing children are filling the house with their friends, toys and noise and making the rooms seem smaller than they used to be. Or perhaps a growing business means a home office would be a preferable to the kitchen table, if only to keep jam off the paperwork.
So should you move somewhere bigger, or extend your house to make it large enough for you and your activities?
In some situations the decision is, of course, made for you. If you live in a flat with no garden, there is little chance of making it bigger. But if you have a house with outside space or a loft with enough headroom, extending your property becomes real possibility.
Whether it makes more sense to move or to extend depends on a number of different factors – the costs involved, your future plans, how emotionally attached you are to your house, the area you live in and the type of house you have.
Your location, and the level of demand for your type of home, could make a big difference to the financial implications of extending versus moving, however, the final result needs to be a balanced, rational home. A four-bedroom family house with no garden or parking, or a house with large living space downstairs and tiny bedrooms upstairs, could be problematic if you need to sell in the future. Even if you plan to live there for a long time, you will want to avoid spending a lot of money on expensive building work that makes it harder to sell.
The cost of an extension depends on where you live, what kind of structure you decide to build, how complicated unavoidable matters such as drainage are and, of course, how big it is going to be.
The government’s Planning Portal lays out the rules and explains what is permitted without planning permission, along with details on how to apply if necessary. The fee for an extension to an existing dwelling usually costs £172.
The calculator on the Planning Portal website will help you work out potential costs.
This guidance reflects temporary increases to the size limits for single-storey rear extensions that must be completed by 30 May 2019, and the associated neighbour consultation scheme.
An extension or addition to your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:
- No more than half the area of land around the “original house”* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
- No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
- No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
- Single-storey rear extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house* by more than three metres if an attached house or by four metres if a detached house.
- In addition, outside Article 2(3) designated land* and Sites of Special Scientific Interest the limit is increased to 6m if an attached house and 8m if a detached house until 30 May 2019.
- These increased limits (between 3m and 6m and between 4m and 8m respectively) are subject to the prior notification of the proposal to the Local Planning Authority and the implementation of a neighbour consultation scheme. If objections are received, the proposal might not be allowed.
- Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
- Extensions of more than one storey must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house* by more than three metres.
- Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
- Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
- Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
- Two-storey extensions no closer than seven metres to rear boundary.
- Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
- Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
- No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
- Upper-floor, side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
- On designated land* no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey.
- On designated land no cladding of the exterior.
- On designated land no side extensions.
* The term “original house” means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you may not have built an extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.
* Designated land includes conservation areas, national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and World Heritage Sites.
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