Here we discuss some of the main design details and features home owners can now consider for their house
- Bi fold glazed door sets
The cost per metre run of bi-fold door sets is around £1,000.00. So a 6M wide bifolding patio door set will be around £6,000.00 plus fitting costs. (prices will vary due to location and manufacturer). A standard sliding patio door set would be around half this cost. So is the added functionality and latest design icon trend worth the extra expense?
- Juliet balconies
Juliet balconies is a term for an inward opening set of glazed doors at the first floor level or higher. They have evolved simply due to desire of homeowners to have a first floor terrace but usually received resistance from the dreaded planning department who usually refused such a design feature. The Juliet balcony was the compromised design solution that has evolved.
- Orangey glazed roofs
An orangey is a style of glazed conservatory often found in upmarket country homes. House extension designers and architects have taken design reference from the roof element of these glorious structure and installed these within house extension flat roofs for example. These make great design features for a house extension and can flood the extension and existing parts of the extended home with natural light.
- Velux roof lights
In my own opinion yes they are - no doubt about it. They do have competition biting at their heels but with regard to design an finishing standards they are superb and I always specify them. I try to utilise Velux roof lights in close groups of 3 for that really modern look. Adding a token gesture single Velux roof light rarely gives that ‘designer edge’ feel to a house extension.
Many house extensions will have a gable end type of roof design rather than a fully hipped roof design. This is where there is a vertical section of walling from the room up to the roof apex. With a little bit of design detailing and forethought the room could be made open vaulted and rather than having a brick or tile hung gable end it could become a fully glazed unit offering added light and sense of height and space for the room benefiting from this design feature.
- PV solar panels
The cost of installing these PV solar panels have come down enormously over the last 5 years mainly due to the numbers being produced, competition, and the economy of scale aspect - very much like the early large flat screen televisions did.
- Solar heating panels
Just like PV solar panels, solar hot water heating panels have improved enormously over the last 5 years. Many of the original systems even installed up to 8 years ago are now defunct, broken or taken out of use simply because they had so many problems. This was mainly due to a lack of understanding, poor design of the units and lack of controls for the whole system.
- Wall abutment details
All house extensions will be attached to the existing properties walls with usually a wall to wall detail rather than a glass window or door abutment to connect the two elements. When a new house extension wall abuts perpendicular to an existing wall (i.e. forming a 90 degree corner) the connection is relative clean and straight forward by using st/steel framing anchors but for flush wall connections (where one wall is to line through with the existing wall) there can be some technical issues.
- Roof abutment details
Single storey house extension pitched roofs usually abut the existing house wall and, as such, offer a greater choice of design options for the client from a simple lean-too roof to a multi-pitched fully hipped pitched roof. However, when a new extension pitched roof has to abut and interconnect with the existing house pitched roof the design options for the house extension pitched roof may not be that great.
- Open vaulted roofs
Forming an open vaulted roof or ceiling line within a house extension is relative easy and straight forward for mono-pitched roofs. Flat roofs and fully hipped apex roofs are more difficult. Many single storey extensions have ‘lean to’ pitched roofs attached to the existing walls as the new rafters for the house extension are simply supported at the top and bottom and do not require ceiling joists for lateral supports to the walls.
- Spiral or straight flight stairs
Some house extensions offer the opportunity to relocate or adjust the existing staircase within the dwelling. Some house extensions may propose a second stair case for an access locked first floor bedroom or a loft conversion for example.
- Matching or contrasting external materials
Planning Officers by default always seem to require matching materials for house extensions. Nearly all planning approvals will contain a standard condition requesting this or to supply details of materials to be used if they are not matching.
- External timber decking
The trend for most gardens now is to have a selection of contrasting materials in some form of formulated landscaped design scheme. This often means incorporating many external materials and decking is just one of several.
- Conservatory for a house extension
Most conservatories built within the UK seem to be ‘stand alone’ house extensions rather than an integral part of a bigger house extension scheme. I think peoples perceptions and requirements for conservatories as house extensions are quite like this as an either or situation.
- Sustainability elements
Sustainability of the house extension market is not as onerous on the land owner, homeowner or developer as for brand new homes so including for renewable energy devices and equipment is not yet a requirement for people extending their homes.
- Laminate or real wood flooring
This debate has ravaged for years. Those in the ‘real wood camp’ scoff at laminates as being a ‘poor mans’ substitute for real wood while the ‘laminate lovers’ wonder why anyone considering real wood would want to put up with all the stability issues at two or three times the price of a decent laminate floor covering.
- Tiled floors or carpets
Fifteen years ago laminate flooring was all the rage - even DIY outlets got into the act. However, its practical functional use within the home were not fully appreciated for those homeowners that seem to implement the latest home improvement ideas or fads at a drop of a hat.
- Sedum green roofs vegetation blankets
Yes but it is not yet commonplace nor is it easy no matter what the ‘strap lines’ say within the glossy architectural press. I have yet to see a house extension that has incorporated a sedum green roof using the pre-grown vegetation blankets (although I expect there are a few).
- Rain water harvesting
Many would argue that fresh water is a very precious commodity that needs to be preserved and used carefully and I would tend to agree - if I was in Africa. However, the UK seems to be awash with the stuff so why should any householder consider installing rain water harvesting at extra expense when the stuff so readily flows out of the tap completely on demand throughout the year.
- Trussed roof rafters
Many homeowners often assume that the roof design for their house extension will be using trusses or pre-formed trussed rafters. Many are shocked to be told that traditional timbers cut on site by a carpenter will be the preferred method of construction the new roof of the house extension.
- Glass blocks
Glass blocks were all the rage between the 1930’s and the 1950 for new buildings and then went out of favour for most building designers. Then suddenly about 10 years ago they re-emerged as a ‘must have’ item for new homes and are now a common requirement from householders having domestic house extensions.
- Wet rooms
It is amazing how tends evolve over the years from something to be reviled to something super trendy and highly desirable. Wet rooms for showers and bathrooms are the latest phenomenon of this effect. Even in the late the 1990’s wet rooms were only associated or ever normally seen as a disabled provision in public places or for the elderly.
- Open plan floor layouts
Most house extensions will involve an element of internal remodelling of the existing house layout especially at the ground floor. Most homeowners desire a semi-open plan ground floor living where the kitchen and dining area are one space which is then connected to the main living room.
- Garages for a house extension
Some house extensions will incorporate a single or double garage but these are becoming less and less of a requirement from homeowners these days due to the overriding requirement for more habitable room space rather than a very expensive brick built structure to simply house a car or to use the area for rough storage.
- Sliding internal doors
I often get asked to include for a sliding door or two from various clients usually due to the tightness of the spaces for the swing of a conventional door. I used to hate this request as I suddenly have flashbacks of my grannies kitchen sliding door hung on some exposed grease ridden rattling track inside the kitchen and offering no sealing abilities at all - it was horrible and always rebounded shut or closed.
- External timber cladding
I will be honest with you - I am not a great fan of having external timber boarding simply stuck onto a building or in strange patches simply to obtain a so called ‘contemporary’ external design of house extension. Whether it be horizontal cedar or vertical pine I tend to avoid its use unless it is for defined purpose other than appearance.
- Balconies and terraces
In most cases forming a balcony or raised terrace will need formal planning permission. Even house extensions built under the sites permitted development allowances will not be legal if they include for a veranda, balcony or raised terrace.