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The Different Methods by Which You Can Add More Space to Your Home

There are so many reasons clients come to Time Architects to make changes to their homes. More often than not though the number one requirement of our clients is to afford them additional space. Whether that be to facilitate a growing family, allow working from home or simply provide additional better living accommodation, most clients simply want and need more room to live within.

We tend to find that many clients are looking at increasing the size of their home having already looked at moving home without success. Or simply realizing that to add space to an existing property is often cheaper than finding a larger property than they currently have, especially in an area they want to live. Quite often there are emotional attachments to a current home that mean enlarging rather than moving is preferable also.

Just as there are several reasons clients might want additional space, there are a few ways to achieve this. The most common methods we are asked to consider include:

  • Reconfiguration of the existing layout of the property
  • Conversion of an existing basement
  • Conversion of an existing roof/ attic space
  • Extensions to the rear, side and front and of single or multiple storeys
  • The addition of an extra storey
  • Conversion of existing outbuildings
  • Creation of an additional outbuilding

Each of the above options carries a number of pros and cons that we will look at exploring below.

Reconfiguration of the Existing Layout of the Property

This is generally the quickest and most simple and straightforward option. Obviously if a property is somewhat inefficient with regards to its spatial layout, this can be tweaked quite easily to allow more space within the property. This option can quite often be the cheapest most cost-effective way to provide additional space but obviously isn’t always possible. It is also the option that will likely offer the least amount of additional space. However, it is quite often easy to make small subtle changes to a properties layout to make better use of the internal layout and provide more space.

We will often look to work within the parameters of the existing external shell to avoid unnecessary expense. This means working with existing window and door locations where possible. Additional openings can of course be added at additional cost, and this may bring planning considerations to the fore. Generally, this option can be undertaken though without the need for planning approval which allows for speed in progressing to works on site.

Rooms can be split into additional rooms with the insertion of partition walls or indeed smaller rooms can be broken out and combined to form larger more usable spaces. As mentioned, window openings can be addressed to offer more natural daylight and reorientation towards better external views. Staircase and service spaces can be moved to allow better space efficiency and mezzanine floors can be added to make better use of the internal volume.

Some of these issues will likely require the additional input of a Structural Engineer to help with structural design and calculations.

Conversion of an Existing Basement

Modern houses tend not to be constructed with basements due to the added cost of retaining walls and the tanking of sub-terranean spaces. However older properties, especially terraced properties, tend to have basements that are only utilized as storage spaces. These can quite often be converted to provide habitable accommodation.

The main difficulties we are required to overcome when faced with a basement conversion project tend to be a lack of head height, keeping out damp and water ingress, allowing in natural daylight, ventilation and external views and allowing for safe fire escape. All these points can be addressed of course, and a basement conversion can provide a significantly large amount of additional space.

Planning will normally only be required if external excavation is required. This though can often be a requirement to allow for natural daylight, ventilation, and external views. Safe fire escape can quite often require not only an external opening, but one that can be exited through which obviously therefore also requires the ability to safely rise to the external ground level.

Basement conversions tend to be very cost effective if sufficient head height exists already. Where there is a requirement to excavate down to provide additional head height, this can become quite costly, especially if existing foundations are required to be underpinned.

Quite often an existing stair access can be retained, albeit with upgrading requirements. But all in all, a conversion of an existing basement tends to be one of the cheapest methods of adding a large amount of additional space to an existing home

Conversion of an Existing Roof/ Attic Space

Older properties, typically prior to 20th century constructions tend to have habitable spaces within the roof space. More recently roof spaces tend to be utilized again as bedroom spaces in new build houses to enable greater levels of efficiency in construction. However, for a number of years houses were built with roof spaces that served little purpose other than as storage spaces. With these properties there is therefore the opportunity to convert these unused spaces quite often to create additional bedroom and bathroom provision.

Most houses in the UK have a pitched, masonry roof. Some are simply pitched front to rear or side to side meaning 2 of the sides of the property are gabled. There are though several properties that have hipped roofs (pitched to all sides), especially semi-detached houses constructed post second world war. Where roofs are pitched, this obviously means that head height diminishes as you move away from the ridge towards the eaves. In some instances, this will still allow an adequate amount usable space with an appropriate head height. This is quite often dictated by the steepness of the roof pitch with older properties tending to allow more usable space with a steeper roof pitch.

The addition of dormers can allow for a greater amount of space with adequate head height. These can be larger to the rear side of the building and can often be to almost the full width of the property with a flat roof on the rear side. Dormers to the front and side tend to be required to be smaller pitched roof versions and are quite often not acceptable under planning requirements.

Glazed elements can be introduced as windows within the dormers or new gable walls, roof lights in any of the roof pitches and even more structural patent glazing to give whole glazed roof pitches. Staircases can often be added above existing staircases below to allow efficiencies of space also.

Quite often attic conversions can be done without the need for planning approval under permitted development rights and can be a very cost-effective way to add a large amount of additional space to an existing house.

Extensions to the Rear, Side and Front and of Single or Multiple Storeys

Clearly an extension to an existing property can provide a large amount of additional space and can be done to any side of the building and to all floors. There are planning restrictions though as to the size of extensions depending on what side of the property they are proposed on and the proximity of neighbouring buildings. It is worth noting though that front facing extensions can only normally be done to a small scale to appear as a front porch.

Small front facing and some side and rear extensions can be undertaken without the need for planning under permitted development rights subject to certain criteria relating to size, location, height, and materials choices. However, properties that are listed, within conservation areas or designated land (green belt locations or within national parks etc.) will require additional planning considerations.

An extension will be one of the costlier ways of adding additional space but can significantly increase the size of a house. Pretty much any use can be allowed for and can allow for a complete reconfiguration of the existing layout.

Care should be taken to ensure the proposal ties in with the existing building construction and form although quite often it can be good to allow an extension to appear more modern than the original house and be read as being separate from the original build. A full material pallet can be considered for aesthetic effect although careful consideration needs to be given to planning requirements.

The Addition of an Extra Storey

This method is by far and away the costliest way to add additional space to an existing house. It is though likely to be the means of adding the most additional space and can dramatically increase the size of your home as well as its aesthetic appearance.

This method will certainly require planning approval and may not be possible if your house is of a similar design, style, and appearance to neighbouring properties.

Care will need to be taken to ensure the addition fits in with the existing building and surrounding buildings and a whole house revamp might be required. The roof will need careful consideration to ensure the scheme works properly and the help of a structural engineer is almost certainly required. This type of build will also be very difficult (if not impossible) to live through the construction.

Conversion of Existing Outbuildings

This method is relatively simple and straightforward but obviously depends on the existing building available. There will need to be an upgrade of the existing building envelope to ensure it is habitable including the ground floor construction. This will involve an overview of the existing structural and thermal performances as well as allowing for the required level of security.

It is likely services will need to be brought to the building which will need to be taken from the existing supply. Drainage too needs to be allowed for and how this can be attached into.

Planning is only normally required for this type of proposal where significant changes are proposed to the existing building envelope. Even then, there are many things that can be done under permitted development rights.

Creation of an Additional Outbuilding

This method is like a conversion but obviously in this instance, the building is built from scratch. Therefore, the new structure will be built to Building Regulations requirements and not require conversion. Similar consideration needs to be given though to services provision.

Again, there are instances where this can be done without the need for planning through permitted development rights although there are constraints regarding this to protect neighbours and things such as trees etc.

This method though, as with extensions, offers the ability to add a considerable amount of additional space but is a costly method of doing so. These types of projects are generally best suited to a use that is considered separate to the use of the house such as annex accommodation, home office, garden or vehicle storage or simply garden accommodation.

We often get asked to undertake a combination of two or more of the above in any one project, and each project requires a level of evaluation to best understand the most suitable type of project for the client. We are more than happy to look at multiple project types and undertake a feasibility stage within the design process to help our clients make suitable decisions.

Further information can be found on our website at www.timearchitects.co.uk or our social media pages.