Don’t move, improve: 7 types of house extension for your London home

Jun 2, 2023 | Property News

An increasing number of Londoners looking for more space are now choosing to extend their home instead of facing the stress and expense of moving. From basement conversions to wrap-around extensions, here are the seven most popular forms of house extensions.

Side return extensions

If there is an alleyway – or side return – that runs alongside your property, then a side return extension can be a cost-effective way to expand the size of your kitchen and add floor space and value.

A side return extension typically includes the use of glass roof panels and/or glass walling to make the most of the natural light, and helps make the kitchen a brighter, lighter living space where you can both cook and entertain. As with any extension, a side return extension will need to comply with building regulations, but depending on the scale and scope of the project it may be considered a permitted development and not require a planning application. For example, if the extension is a single storey and less than 4 metres in height (or less than 3m if within 2m of a property boundary) and takes up less than 50% of the width of the original house, then it may be allowed as a permitted development. If you are unsure whether your extension could be a permitted development, then it is always best to ask an expert.

Single storey rear extensions

A single storey rear extension offers the potential for a significant improvement to any home that has the available garden space at the back. Rear extensions can be configured for any purpose but are often used to extend the kitchen to create a large open plan cooking and dining area, which opens up into the garden through bifold doors.

These extensions can help bring in natural light with well-placed skylights, adding to the enjoyment of the property, and add significant square footage, increasing its value.

Single storey extensions require compliance with building control regulations, but they might not need planning permission if they can be done under permitted development rules. However, those looking to build a rear extension will need to consider how the roof and drainage might work with the existing structure, whether any excavations will be required, and any possible impact on their neighbours.

Wraparound house extensions

A wraparound extension utilises space both at the side and rear of the property. Essentially, they combine a side-return extension and a rear extension to create an L-shape of continuous additional space.

Wraparounds are popular as they make the most of all available space and create the most additional square footage without eating up too much of the garden at the rear. However, as they combine two different extensions into one, they are also the most expensive single-storey extension option. And as with the rear extensions, they will require compliance with building regulations, but may not need planning permission if the extension can be considered a permitted development.

Multi-storey side extensions

Double or triple-storey side extensions can be a fantastic way to add extra bedrooms, bathrooms, or a dedicated office to an existing property. However, they can only be added to detached or semi-detached properties with a side plot or garden, and they will require planning permission.

The complexity of multi-storey extensions makes them more expensive and time-consuming to build, and the construction will have a greater impact on any neighbours. However, once completed, the extension will create extra rooms and additional floorspace, which will boost the value of the property.

Loft conversions

Loft conversions are one of Britain’s most loved home extension projects, as they can offer the most cost-effective way to add additional rooms to a property by making use of the dead space in the attic.

If your loft is large enough, an attic conversion can be as simple as doing up the flooring and walls alongside adding some insulation and velux skylight windows. However, there are other options such as dormer extensions, where a box-like structure is added that projects out of the roof for a vertical window; or a mansard extension which is typically built to the rear of your property and has a horizontal roof with an almost vertical 72-degree back wall.

Cellar conversions

Basement or cellar conversions also make the most of current dead space in a property to create fully functional rooms, but below the ground. A couple of decades ago, basement conversions were a niche project, but their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years as house prices have rocketed and Londoners look to find additional space without moving home.

As converting a cellar creates an entirely new floor of living space within a property, they can add significant value to any home. However, if you are thinking of converting your cellar, it is important to first think about issues such as damp proofing, access, and how you want to introduce more natural light.

Basement extensions

If you don’t have a cellar to convert but want to add space beneath your home, then you will be looking to dig out a new basement extension. These tend to be the most expensive form of extension but can offer homeowners a way to add a significant number of additional rooms, and possibly additional floors of living space.

Those looking to dig out a basement extension will need to consider the geology around their property and the location of the water table alongside the same considerations of a cellar conversion such as damp, access, and natural light.

Are you looking to build an extension?

Are you looking to extend your home, but are not sure where to start? Or are you set on a basement extension and need some expert guidance? Call Good London Builders today on 0207 978 5097, email, or get in touch via our contact form.

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