Side return extension project? All you need to know

A side return extension is a popular way to extend a property, particularly in terraced or semi-detached houses. It involves extending into the narrow alley or passage that runs alongside the house. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you plan and execute a side return extension project:

1. Understanding the Side Return Extension

  • What It Is: A side return extension involves extending the side of your house into the alleyway that runs alongside it, typically adding around 1-2 meters of width.
  • Benefits: Increased living space, improved layout, enhanced natural light, potential to increase property value.

2. Initial Side Return Extension Considerations

  • Purpose: Determine the purpose of the extension (e.g., expanding the kitchen, creating a dining area, or adding a living space).
  • Budget: Set a realistic budget, accounting for design, construction, permits, finishes, and contingency.
  • Timeline: Plan a timeline, understanding that it can take several months from planning to completion.

3. Design and Planning your Side Return Extension

  • Architect: Hire an architect to create detailed plans. They can help maximize space and light and ensure the design meets building regulations.
  • Structural Engineer: You may need a structural engineer to assess and design any structural elements.
  • Planning Permission: Check if you need planning permission. In many cases, a side return extension falls under permitted development rights, but this depends on the specifics of your property and local regulations.
  • Building Regulations: Ensure your plans comply with building regulations, covering aspects like structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, and ventilation.

4. Legal and Administrative Steps before building a side return extension

  • Party Wall Agreement: If your property shares a wall with a neighbor, you might need a Party Wall Agreement.
  • Permits and Approvals: Obtain any necessary permits from local authorities.

5. Hiring Contractors for your side return extension

  • Builders and Contractors: Get quotes from several builders. Check their references and past projects.
  • Project Management: Decide if you will manage the project yourself or hire a project manager.

6. Side Return Extension Construction Phase

  • Site Preparation: Prepare the site, which may involve demolishing existing structures and clearing the area.
  • Foundations and Structure: Lay foundations and build the structural frame.
  • Utilities: Install or reroute utilities (plumbing, electricity, gas).
  • Walls, Roof, and Windows: Construct the walls and roof, and install windows and doors.
  • Insulation and Plastering: Insulate the walls and roof, then plaster the interior walls.
  • Flooring and Finishes: Install flooring, and complete interior finishes like painting, lighting, and fittings.

7. Final Steps

  • Inspection and Approval: Have the extension inspected to ensure it meets building regulations.
  • Landscaping: Tidy up any external areas affected by the construction.
  • Interior Design: Furnish and decorate the new space.

8. Post-Construction

  • Snagging: Identify and fix any issues (snagging) that arise after construction.
  • Maintenance: Plan for regular maintenance to keep the extension in good condition.

Tips for a Successful Side Return Extension

  • Maximize Light: Use skylights, glass doors, and large windows to bring in natural light.
  • Open Plan Layout: Consider an open plan to make the space feel larger and more cohesive.
  • Energy Efficiency: Incorporate energy-efficient materials and systems to reduce long-term costs.
  • Storage Solutions: Integrate smart storage solutions to keep the new space organized.

By carefully planning and executing each step, you can ensure that your side return extension enhances your living space and adds value to your home. Contact us today and we can provide a free consultation.
Side return extension - London

Side Return Extension Frequented asked questions

The cost of a side return extension in the UK typically ranges from £25,000 to £60,000, depending on factors such as the size, complexity, quality of materials, and location. In London and the South East, costs may be higher due to increased labor and material expenses. Additional costs might include architectural fees, planning permission, building regulations approval, and unforeseen contingencies.

You can extend to the side without planning permission if the extension falls under permitted development rights, which generally allow single-story side extensions of up to 4 meters in height and no wider than half the width of the original house. However, this is subject to specific conditions and exclusions, such as being outside of conservation areas or listed buildings. It's essential to check with your local planning authority to confirm if your project qualifies. Always ensure the extension complies with building regulations regardless of planning permission.

A side extension can be worth it as it significantly increases living space, enhances the property's layout, and often adds value to the home. The benefits in functionality and aesthetics can outweigh the costs, particularly in high-value areas. However, careful consideration of budget, planning regulations, and potential impact on neighboring properties is crucial.

You can extend up to 50mm from your neighbor's boundary, provided you have Permitted Development Rights or Planning Permission. This can be a good solution if you can't secure a Party Wall Agreement.