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To match or contrast external materials for a house extension - should I always match?

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.

It has been my experience that even if you make it crystal clear on the submitted plans exactly what the materials will be, they still place this standard condition requiring matching materials unless otherwise approved.

This drives me to despair at times and simply shows the inexperience of most Planning Officers used for development control duties - usually young graduates entering the real world of building development for the first time.

Planning conditions for matching materials are usually installed on a planning approval simply to safeguard the ‘wayward homeowner’ from using inappropriate materials such as poor quality and different colour bricks for cheapness or bright blue ceramic glazed roof tiles for the homeowner wishing to make a design statement.

So, what does the homeowner do if they want to use contrasting non-matching building materials for their house extension? Well firstly it does have to have some design grounding in order to have integrity and working with your experienced house extension designer will greatly enhance your chances of it being accepted by the Planning Department.

I would also recommend that the alternative materials are clearly shown on the house extension plans and elevations as this will be easier to get approved should you need to supply samples of the materials if you do need to deviate from this ‘matching materials planning condition‘ later on.

Clever use of contrasting materials can be a very useful design tool for breaking up an extended property to create interest and visual relief to the eye. It can also make the extension look less bulky but care needs to be taken as to what contrasting materials are used. For example a red tile hung first floor wall element against an existing deep red brick using red mortar could over-emphasise the redness of the walling where as a cream coloured rendered first floor element may soften and create more interest against a very existing brick wall.


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