In this blog post I’m going to share with you the 3 big issues when extending the ground floor in a typical UK house and more importantly what you can do about them.
Extending a ground floor is a great way to get a tonne of extra space especially for open plan kitchen/dining rooms.
However it’s not as simple as just adding some more room to back of the house.
There are 3 important considerations to make and they are things that won’t be apparent especially if you’ve never built one before and they all specifically apply to UK houses.
In other words they’re the difference between a good extension and a world class extension or the difference between Betamax and VHS…
The other is an issue with the construction of the extension itself and is the first thing we’ll discuss.
This will make the difference between the building work being a lot of hassle, muck and noise versus stress & worry free and having your home relatively tidy whilst the work is going on.
By the time we’re finished, your ground floor will be unrecognisable and be a far better place to live in as well as being a lot bigger and it won’t have been a major hassle to build either.
1) Plan Out Access For Builders
The biggest hindrance to getting building work done on a house especially in terraced houses is access to the rear of the property.
You’re going to require access for builders & materials. It’s not pleasant to have muddy boots and wheelbarrows constantly walking through your hallway.
And then there are deliveries and unless you have a big front garden this can be problematic too so you might need to request a temporary delivery area in front of your house from your local authority.
Builders will invariably factor into their quote this extra hassle where both parking & access are not ideal.
However it’s not all doom & gloom.
Most older terraces have a shared right of way running across behind all their back gardens which lead to a side road or alley and this can be used to give the builders access and a route to get deliveries and materials into the rear of the house
Another way is if you’re second house in from an end of terrace you might be able to agree some temporary access through your next door neighbours end of terrace garden but of course that depends on your relationship with them.
Failing all this you’ll just have to bite the bullet and have all the deliveries, labour and materials come through the front of the house.
In that event you can take pre-emptive steps to protect your walls, finishes fittings in your hallway and out the back of your kitchen.
If this isn’t possible then pumping concrete from the front of the house might be the only and not exactly ideal option.
You’ll also need to check if big delivery items like large glass panes of glass can be delivered through the house. If not then you’ll most likely need to crane them in which is expensive.
Another major item is deposing of waste and excavated material, if you have little room out the back then it won’t take much to block it all up so a regular waste disposal routine must be undertaken by your builder.
The last thing you want is to have stuff being delivered with no space to bring it out back as it will hold the whole everyone up until it is cleared and these delays are something you can pretty much guarantee you’ll end up paying for.
And one more thing, I’d also recommend hiring a port-a-loo unless you’re ok with builders using your toilet all day long!
2) Consider The Removal Of Light In The Middle Of The House
I’ve lost count of the amount of extensions I have seen that take no consideration of how dark the extension will make the middle of the house.
The upshot of this is that these become spaces that aren’t really pleasant to be in and as a result they become unused spaces, in other words wasted space which is the last thing we want to have in our house.
We want to use every square inch of the place but if you don’t address the loss of light then you’re effectively adding space with the extension only to lose usable space in the middle.
So you’re not really gaining anything in terms of living space in the house regardless of the monetary increase in value of your property.
Thankfully this is an easy problem to fix.
The most common & inexpensive way to sort this is to construct part of the new roof of the extension in glazing so you get lots of natural light into the extension.
However there are limits to the amount of glazing you can use (rule of thumb is 25% of the floor area of the extension) and the reasons these limits exist are to prevent the extension in effect becoming a conservatory.
There are also limits on heat loss and the more glazing you have the more heat you will lose. In addition the hallway will still be quite dark so whilst this method is the most common and inexpensive to do, it doesn’t fully address the issue.
However if you do have a very small terraced house then this solution might tick all the boxes as the distance to the hallway will be small and as a result not as dark.
The second way, and my personal favourite way is to construct a small courtyard between the extension and the old dining room.
You then open out the dining room wall to give the room access to the courtyard and then the side of the courtyard lets light and ventilation right into the middle of the hallway.
Plus this makes it a really cool space in the house and a wonderful place to work if you get the right weather. You are in effect bringing the outside smack into the middle of the house.
3) Consider The Spaces Already In The Ground Floor And Incorporate Them Into The Design Of The Extension
To really get the most from your ground floor extension, you need to consider how the rooms and spaces already in the ground floor will sit and flow with the extension.
It cannot be underestimated just how different the flow of your ground floor will be with an extension, it changes the whole dynamic of the place.
The issues start when people simply add an extension but don’t tweak the other places to suit.
The fact is that if you don’t address this issue then you are only marginally improving your home and gaining a bit of extra floor space.
You will be missing out on properly transforming the place into something far better to live in.
The good news though is that tweaking the layout of the rest of the spaces is relatively inexpensive to do and once you get this work thrown in with doing the extension too, you can usually get it done for a bargain price as the main work is in the extension itself.
The trick though is knowing what tweaks to make and where.
The good news is that we have another blog post here on doing just that and it can be found here.
Also how did you find the information in this blog post? What do you think? What ideas do you have for your own home? Add them to the comments section below and let’s talk about them!
Want To Know How Much Your Extension Will Cost?
The most common question we get on this site and from our clients is “how do I get a ball park figure for my building work so I have an idea on how much it will cost me before I start?”
And there hasn’t really been an easy answer to that…
Well if the question above also applies to you then you need to check out our Ultimate House Extension Pricing Toolkit.
Basically we’ve tried every pricing tool both offline & online and we’ve put together this toolkit which shows you how to use what we consider the best 3 free online pricing tools that exist for the UK market.
We break down each one and give you step-by-step instructions on how to use them and you’ll be shocked with how ridiculously easy to use they are.
We’ll also show you what info you need to fill them out and how to get this info if you don’t have it, again it’s really simple to do.
This is the best resource on the big bad interwebs for getting a pretty good ballpark figure for your extension.
And the best part is that you can do it all online, there’s no calling anyone or booking an appointment or being hounded by sales people!
- Discover the 3 free & super-simple online pricing tools made for house extensions
- Get an accurate cost for your potential extension in 5 minutes or less, yes it’s really that fast!
- Make sure you don’t get over-priced and ripped off by builders on your dream extension
And this is just a sample!
So to find out more all you have to do is click the link below:
Declan Connolly is the founder of Bespoke Home Design. He has been designing peoples homes for the last 18 years and personally worked on over a thousand peoples projects – roughly £400mil pounds worth of properties right across the UK. You can connect with Declan on Facebook