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 Home extension guide - how to build a house extension and refurbish your home


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Council Planning Design Guides for Home and House Extensions

All Planning Departments will have Planning Policy relevant to your proposed home extension scheme. Most Councils will also have compiled Domestic extension design guides that can set a few tips and design requirements for most aspects of house extension design. These design guides will usually encompass single and two storey side, front and rear extensions, loft conversions, dormer windows, off road car parking provision and landscaping. 

Therefore, before embarking on a design of home extension you need to consider whether or not its external design, siting and use will be appropriate to the Council.

Most Extension Design Guides can be downloaded as pdf's from the Councils web site. Simply search the Councils web site direct or google the relevant search phrases.

Most Councils seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet regarding generic aspects of home extension design so do not be afraid to use another Councils design guide for influences on your own aspirations.

Here is one Councils version of a typical design guide for domestic house an home extensions:-

Home Extension Design Guide

Introduction A picture of a sketch of a house with extensions

Many people wish to make additions to their home. Extensions can improve living conditions by making more space available and enable occupiers to adapt accommodation as family circumstances change. Well designed extensions may also add to property value.

Extensions to properties provide valuable additional internal space but can, if poorly designed, spoil the appearance of the house or the street or adversely affect neighbours. The external design of alterations and extensions is often a matter of personal preference. This guide sets out general advice and the Planning Committee's particular requirements to help householders considering an extension to their home. Advice from architects or professional designers can provide new ideas and highlight potential problems leading to the quicker granting of planning permission and to reduced costs in the longer term. Advice should be sought at an early stage with regard to the requirement for planning permission or building regulations approval.

The Fareham Borough Local Plan Review, in Policies DG3-DG5, sets out the standards that the Council will expect new development to achieve. Paragraphs 3.19 - 3.35 provide advice on standards of development. The guidance in this leaflet, produced as a supplement to the Local Plan, expands on the policies. Although the diversity of house styles within the Borough makes it impossible to cover every type of extension or situation, the guidance will apply to the design of all home extensions, whether they are in the countryside, urban area or special character areas.

In conservation areas particular care and attention to the scale, design and materials used will be necessary. Internal or external works to a listed building will normally require listed building consent, as will any proposal involving even partial demolition. Works involving partial or complete demolition of unlisted buildings in Conservation Areas will generally require Conservation Area consent. Early consultation with the local planning authority is advisable in either case and guidance on your specific proposal can be given.

Shape, size and styleA picture of a sketch of a house

Having made the decision to extend, the next consideration is where. Depending on the type of house and the amount of land around, it may be possible to extend at the side, rear, front or in the roof. It is important to stand back from your property and consider the type of property and its surroundings.

The major influence on the design of an extension is the character of the original house, including the materials used, roof shape, proportions of windows and doors. If the design of your extension reflects the shape, materials and distinguishing features of your house it will be likely to enhance the property and not detract from its character.

An extension should not dominate the existing building in shape or size. It will look better if it is the same height as the original building or lower. Two storey side extensions can sometimes look better if they are set back one metre from the front wall of the existing house.

Normally two storey side extensions should be set a minimum of one metre off the boundary to avoid a cramped or terraced appearance. However, in some cases, particularly in the more spacious areas, a greater distance may be required.

Outlook, Privacy and Loss of Light

An image of sketches showing various different outlooksLarge or poorly located extensions can have an unacceptable impact on the outlook from existing dwellings. A minimum distance of 12.5 metres (40 feet) is normally required between the windows of habitable rooms in an existing dwelling and a two storey wall of a new extension where the wall contains no windows. Where two storey rear extensions are proposed, 11 metres from a window at first floor level to the garden boundary and 22 metres from facing windows is considered to be the minimum privacy requirements.

In the case of first or two storey side or rear extensions the minimum distance required between a side window serving a habitable room and a proposed development will normally be six metres. Only in exceptional circumstances, depending upon the presence of intervening screening, the size and height of the extension and the nature of the window (main or secondary), character, levels and orientation, will smaller distances to a minimum of 4 metres be acceptable.

An image of sketches showing various different outlooks

To assist in maintaining adequate privacy for neighbours you may be required to construct flank windows in extensions at high level or of obscure glass, but this will depend on the circumstances of individual cases.

A common objection from neighbours is that your proposal will cut out a lot of light from their windows. An extension behind a line drawn at an angle of 45 degrees from the centre line of your neighbour's nearest ground floor window is less likely to affect them. Normally single storey rear extensions up to three metres in length on the property boundary are acceptable in relation to loss of light to and change in outlook from the adjoining property. However, site characteristics such as changes in levels, orientation and proximity of windows in adjoining properties may require the extension to be moved away from the boundary. Similarly, extensions larger than three metres in length can sometimes be acceptable. Two storey rear extensions are more likely to cut out neighbours' light than a single storey one and should not normally be built on the boundary. An alternative may be to have a single storey extension and a well designed dormer.

BalconiesA picture of a sketch of a house with a balcony

There are few terraced or attached properties in Fareham that can take on the addition of a balcony without causing loss of privacy and/or detracting from the original house and street scene. Proposals for balconies will be examined very carefully to ensure there is no unacceptable loss of privacy to neighbours.


Adding a porch or a canopy is one of the most significant changes a householder can make to the front of a house, involving as it does a change to the focal point, the entrance.

In terraced developments a plain rectangular box with a flat roof of the type shown below is generally unsympathetic to the individual building and will spoil the look of the whole row.

A picture of a sketch of a house with a correct porchA picture of a sketch of a house with a incorrect porch


Additions which follow existing characteristics such as roof pitch and window form will enhance rather than detract from the original house or group of houses. Where front doors are paired it may be worthwhile joining forces with a neighbour to achieve a higher standard and reduce costs.

DormersA picture of a sketch of a house with roof lights

Roof or loft extensions are a popular way of providing extra space. In some cases where sufficient headroom exists rooflights or windows in gable walls may be all that is needed.

Where headroom needs to be created, a dormer may be the answer but because they are so prominent they need to be well designed to integrate with the original roof.

As a guide:-
  • Put a dormer at the back of a house where it is less conspicuous
  • Keep below the original ridge of the roof
  • Do not take up the whole roof slope
  • Avoid where possible dormers on the hipped end of a roof
  • Dormers should be set in from the gable end
  • Several smaller dormers look better than one very large one
  • Where possible keep to the original style of the roof and use a gabled or hipped dormer
  • Normally some of the existing roof should be left beneath the window
  • Materials and design of windows should match those of the existing dwelling
  • Care should also be taken to ensure new dormers do not unacceptably overlook adjacent properties
  • Dormers should generally be set within the existing roof slope which should remain evident above, below and to the sides of the dormer

A picture of the Do's and Dont's for dormer windows

A picture of the Do's and Dont's for dormer windows


Frequently Asked Questions

Is my building listed?
A copy of the Statutory List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest is held in the Planning Office at the Civic Offices. You are welcome to visit the offices and view the list or to telephone with any questions relating to your building within normal office hours. A building that lies within the curtilage of, or is attached to a listed building can also be a listed. Deciding which buildings are listed for this reason is not always straightforward. If you are in doubt as to whether your building may fall into this category you should contact a Planning Officer who can advise you further.

Remember that a listed building can include structures other than buildings such as walls and gate pillars.

How old is my listed building?
The statutory List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest does contain detailed information concerning the age of some buildings although in most instances gives just a broad indication of the date of construction (eg, late 18th Century). The council does have additional information on some of the more important listed buildings in the borough and copies of old maps. If you are interested in researching your property or finding out more about the history of your local area these are some good starting places for material and advice;

Westbury Manor Museum -West Street, Fareham, Hants

Tel: 01329 824895 - Westbury Manor Museum Website (this is an external hyperlink)

Hampshire Record Office - Sussex Street, Winchester, Hants, SO23 8TH

Tel: 01962 846154 - Hampshire Record Office Website (this is an external hyperlink)

Fareham Library Fareham Hampshire

Tel: 01329 282715 - Fareham Library Website (this is an external hyperlink)

What is a listed building?
A listed building is a building of special architectural or historic interest included in a list approved by the Secretary of State. A copy of the list for Fareham can be seen at the Department of Planning and Development. The term ''listed building'' includes:

both the interior and exterior of a building whatever the grade
any objects or structures fixed to the building
Structures within the boundaries of the property, such as boundary walls, outbuildings, gates, lamp posts and even garden statues which, although not fixed to the building, form part of the land and have done so since before 1st July 1948.

What is the Local List?
Many buildings have local architectural or historic interest or a local historical association but are not of sufficient merit to justify inclusion on the statutory list. The planning department keeps a list of locally important buildings and has drafted policies for their protection in the Fareham Borough Local Plan Review. Locally listed buildings do not enjoy the protection of statutory listing but the council will encourage their retention and continued use provided development proposals do not harm their character or setting.

Which buildings are listed?
Britain has a wide variety of historic houses, churches, agricultural, industrial and commercial buildings which contribute to the historic character of many of our cities, towns and villages. The need to preserve them is recognized in the statutory listing process.

The ''Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest'' is compiled by the Department for Culture Media and Sport with the guidance of English Heritage and is approved by the Secretary of State. The list contains many different types of building which can be listed because of their age, rarity, architectural merit or owing to their method of construction. Interesting groups of buildings may also be listed. Occasionally a building can be listed because it has a close historical association with either a particular person or an important event.

What do the different grades mean?
Buildings on the list are graded to show their relative architectural or historic interest.

Grade I are of exceptional interest
Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
Grade II are of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them
Grades I and II* represent approximately 6% of listed buildings nationally.

What do the Planning Enforcement team do?
The team investigates allegations of breaches of planning control including:

unauthorised development, or uses;
unauthorised works to a listed building - both internal and external works;
unauthorised display of advertisements;
non-compliance with conditions of planning permissions; and,
untidy sites where these are considered detrimental to local amenity
unauthorised work to trees which are protected or are located in conservation areas
N.B Works to trees which are protected or are located in conservation areas without the consent of the local planning authority is an offence.

What is the extent of planning controls?
Planning controls relate to any development. The definition of ''development'' for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is considered to include "carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operation in on or under land or the making of a material change of use of any building or other land".

(N.B all mining and waste planning issues are dealt with by the County Council).

Do you require planning permission for all development?
No, many minor developments are exempt from the need for planning permission by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. You should always contact the local planning authority to find out if you need planning permission before commencing any development

Is it an offence to undertake development without permission?
No, under the Act it is not considered to be an offence to fail to comply with planning controls, although you are advised to contact the local planning authority prior to carrying out works which might require approval. Should a local planning authority consider it expedient to issue an enforcement notice against a development which is unauthorised then non-compliance with this notice is an offence, for which the maximum fine is £20,000.

What happens if a condition on a planning permission is not complied with?
The local planning authority has the power to issue a breach of condition notice against which there is no right of appeal. It is an offence not to comply with such a notice. This offence maybe prosecuted in the magistrates court with a maximum fine of £1,000.

Is it an offence to undertake works to a listed building?
Yes, if these works are considered to affect the character and integrity of the building.

Is it an offence to display an advertisement without consent
Some advertisements are exempt from the need for express advertisement consent. Advertisements which do not require consent are those which enjoy deemed consent under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Adverts) Regulations 2007. Booklets and advice can be obtained from the Local Planning Authority.

What information is required for an alleged breach to be investigated?
Address of land or building where breach alleged
Details of alleged breach
Complainant contact name and address and telephone number.
Any additional relevant information/other interested parties

How do I report an alleged breach?
by completing and submitting a Complaint Form which can be found on this page on the website. Please note that you will be required to provide your name, address and telephone number for any complaint to be investigated. Your details will be kept confidential. Complaints can also be made in writing to the address shown below.

Department of Development Control
Fareham Borough Council
Civic Offices
Civic Way
PO16 7TT

What are the stages of an investigation?
Complaint registered and acknowledged - 4 days
First site visit made - 10 days
Complainant will be kept informed of progress with investigations.

What action may be taken where a breach of planning controls is found to be occurring?
Once a complaint has been investigated and a breach identified, depending on the severity of the breach a number of things may happen:

negotiate a satisfactory solution
seek a retrospective planning application
if no application is forthcoming or the breach is serious then an enforcement notice may be issued
In the case where significant harm is being caused by the breach it may be appropriate to issue a stop notice in conjunction with an enforcement notice or seek a legal injunction to stop the unauthorised activities.

It is important to note that the enforcement of Planning Control is a discretionary power and in some circumstances it may not be expedient to take action

Is there a right of appeal?
On an enforcement notice, listed building enforcement notice and an advert discontinuance notice, there is a right of appeal. The appeal is made to the Planning Inspectorate.

Is there a period after which development becomes immune from enforcement action?
Yes, The period within which planning enforcement action can be taken is limited to:

4 years for operational development and change of use to any building for use as a single dwelling house
10 years for all other changes of use and breaches of conditions
If you wish to confirm that development is immune from planning enforcement action, you are advised to make an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness.

Do I need planning permission?
If you need the Council''s advice on whether you need planning permission, print off and complete one of the three forms appropriate for your proposal and forward it to us. Email us on, telephone 01329 236100, send a facsimile to 01329 821500 or send the details by post and we will advise you if you need Building Regulations Consent or planning permission.

How much will my planning application cost?
A list of fees is available on the Planning Portal (External Link). You will be able to work out the fee for your planning application using this.

How long does it take to make a decision on my planning application?
The Council makes a decision on most planning applications within eight weeks. You may make an appeal to Government if we have not sent you the decision within the expiry date in our letter acknowledging your application (usually eight weeks from receipt, but thirteen weeks for some major applications).

Can I view planning applications?
You can see the details of current and recent planning applications together with documents and decision notices at the online planning page.

What are your opening hours if I need to speak to a planning officer?
The Council offices are open on Monday to Friday between 08.45 and 17.15 (16.45 on Friday). A duty planning officer is available to answer questions from telephone callers and visitors between 09.00 and 13.00. If you have a question that needs research, you should print off and submit details on the planning advice enquiry forms on our website.

Will you investigate development my neighbour is carrying out? will you tell my neighbour I complained about them?
Complaints of breaches of planning control (e.g.: building work or new uses of land in the absence of necessary plannning permission or not as shown on the planning permission, ignoring conditions of planning permission) are dealt with by the Planning Enforcement Team. You will need to give us your name and contact details as we will not take action on anonymous complaints; however, we will treat your complaint in confidence.

Why do I need planning permission when many people have built similar things without encountering problems?
Planning permission may not be needed in every case. Some works are not counted as develoment (e.g.: general painting and decorating); other carefully defined kinds of development, particularly for works to dwellinghouses or in their gardens, are granted general permission by the government so they don''t need a specific planning permission. (NB: These entitlements may be withdrawn by planning condition of earlier planning permissions or by a direction for specific classes of development in specific areas:- Articles 3 and 4 of the Town and Country Planning General Development Procedure Order 1995). If your development does not fall into those categories, you will need to apply for planning permission.



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