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Adding A Side Return Extension
Author:
Tom Norris

I did my first side return extension back in the 80’s. It was a beautiful Victorian terrace property with a long back addition. Like most properties from that period the back addition usually provided a small kitchenette, a small breakfast room and if you were lucky had an outside loo to boot..

Over the years as the properties were modernised the dividing wall got knocked out so you ended up having one long room that served as a kitchen and breakfast room combined. This layout has worked quite well until some bright spark decided that it might be nice to extend the property sideways and use up the little alleyway on the side of the back addition. In doing so he/she created what is today commonly knows as a side return extension.



How Does A Side Return Extension Effect The Floor Layout?

In short, the addition of a side extension will create a huge impact on any property, far more than you could possibly realize when you look at the small amount of space that used to be the alleyway. It may be only a metre or so wide but when that floor area is added to the long back addition it transforms a dark narrow room into a much brighter more evenly proportioned living space.

In most cases the extension is only about 1.5 metres wide by the length of the side return, but the addition now allows for far more light to come in through the extension roof whether via Velux windows or double glazed panels. Either way the roof light with the addition of a further window or set of doors at the end of the side return extension will allow for more much needed light and will help to create some wonderful new arrangements for the kitchen, breakfast room and living area.

If you’re currently considering adding a side return extension there are a number of further considerations below that you should pay attention to and in doing so you will be well rewarded.
 



Are You Going To Move House In The Next 5 Years?

Side Return Extension Photos 2It’s an absolute fact that people spend many thousands of pounds adding an extension and doing up their property only to sell within a couple of years. Now the question is, if you knew you were going to move house would you really have:

Well unless you happen to be an architect or interior designer with a finger placed firmly on the current interior design trends then it’s most likely that you will have:

The truth is that many homeowners browse a few websites, read a few magazines about the side return extension and before you know it are off giving instructions to the builders without any real idea if the proposed works will:

Get it into your head that not all home improvements add value. Also, get it into your head that should you decide to spend 100 per metre on limestone flooring or 15k on a kitchen you could have wasted up to 75% of your money as you may not get it back when you sell.

Side Return Extension Photos 3Different styles of properties require different designs when it comes to extending or refurbishing. Just because your large corner settee looked great in your open plan loft apartment doesn’t mean it will look well in a 3 bedroom 1930’s semi.

In effect, what I’m saying is that any kind of major refurbishment, layout change or addition should be carried out with the following considerations.

Budget - Am I refurbishing to sell or to keep? It’s an important consideration here as many home-owners waste many thousands of pounds on home improvements that they can’t possibly recoup when they sell.

Let’s say you had 2 properties. Property 1 had a value of 125k and property 2 had a value of 250k. Now would you really spend the same amount on a new kitchen or double glazing on each property? The answer is that you can but you would be losing money as the value and the location of the property needs to be considered when it comes to major refurbishments.

Design - Would you really add the same style of side return extension to 2 different properties? Just because you added an extension to one property and it worked really well, don’t go thinking that you will automatically get the same result on another property.

Each property is unique when it comes to designing the perfect home and as such deserves unique consideration rather than a standard bolt-on extension approach.

Interior Design - When it comes to creating new layouts and choosing finishing materials it’s absolutely essential that you do the research to establish what works best with your particular style of property. Bear in mind that at this point you should know if you’re refurbishing to sell within a few years or refurbishing to suit your own taste regardless.

We always advise getting in some specialist help to aid your decision making on whether a loft conversion is worth the effort, whether you should add a conservatory or in fact carry out any major improvements. Talk to your local estate agents if you want to find out if your proposal will add value, make the property more sellable or simply be a waste of money.

Architect - When it comes to the layout changes, major refurbishments, side return extensions or conversions you should always engage the services of a local architect as the first step rather than calling the builders. In many cases, builders tend to adopt particular styles and if given an opportunity they will be more than happy to steer you into a design and style that they like rather than a design that works best for your property and circumstance.

You also need to bear in mind that regardless of whether or not your proposals fall within permitted development you will still need drawings for building regulations approval and by drawings I mean technical drawings with sound arguments and calculations for energy saving especially if your design has a lot of glass.

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