One of the most exciting ways to enhance our homes and introduce more natural light is by adding a glass extension. A sleek structure across a side return, an elegant traditional-style conservatory or a modern glass box will provide extra space for a living and dining area, kitchen, office or play-room, while improving the flow of the entire ground floor and bringing a sense of the garden indoors.
Glass is now a very sophisticated material. Glass-to-glass technology, which permits minimal framing, and double glazing have moved on so much, it is now possible to create dynamic structures made almost entirely of glass. The ability to blur the transition between inside and out and create a strong connection to the garden is immensely appealing, so much so that most of his company’s projects now involve a glass structure of some form. It is no longer the case that these spaces are too hot in summer and too cold in winter; they really can be comfortable all year round.
THE SOURCEBOOK: EXTENSIONS
MARSTON & LANGINGER – BEST FOR ALUMINIUM STRUCTURES
Hampshire-based specialist in structures that replicate the aesthetic of wood with aluminium. The team can help with orangeries, garden rooms or conservatories, marstonandlanginger.com.
PRIME OAK – BEST FOR WOODEN STRUCTURES
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, all the structural frames are manufactured using air-dried seasoned oak to ensure quality and suitability, primeoak.co.uk.
GREGORY PHILLIPS ARCHITECTS – BEST FOR BESPOKE
This award-winning Londonbased practice has decades of experience in creating design-led extensions, with all projects fully managed, gregoryphillips.com.
WESTBURY GARDEN ROOMS – BEST FOR CLASSIC DESIGNS
Alongside orangeries and garden rooms, you can also get help transforming side returns and lower ground floors, westburygardenrooms.com.
Top tips for planning an extension
While adding a conservatory or single storey extension to your house may be considered ‘permitted development’, meaning that you do not need to apply for planning permission, larger structures are likely to require it.
How to design an extension
Twenty years ago, an extension almost always referred to a conservatory – an often blindingly bright glazed room that was somewhere to eat or read overlooking the garden. Today, to some extent because of the inflated cost of moving house, homeowners are more strategic with their plans, maximising the square footage of the house and creating multipurpose spaces to include everything from kitchen-diners to dining rooms, wine cellars and family spaces. ‘Additional square footage is often desired but if function takes a back seat to form, the result can be impractical; warns Jonathan Hey of Westbury Garden Rooms. Proportion – the balance between floor space and ceiling height – is critical in creating a successful outcome.
What materials should you use?
This choice is fundamental to the design as it’s the element that brings the structure to life. For traditionally designed extensions to blend easily with the existing building, the materials used play a vital role. ‘Matching the joinery colour to that of the house, as well as the brick (using, if budget allows, reclaimed ones), stone or render colour, will help the new addition blend in; advises Jeremy Preston-Jones of Malbrook Conservatories.
Do you need planning permission for an extension?
Some extensions are allowed without a planning application under permitted development. Current legislation allows for a single-storey rear extension with a maximum height of 4m, which must not extend beyond the rear of the original house by more than 3m for an attached house or by 4m for a detached property (for more details, visit planningportal.gov.uk). If a scheme has to go through planning, the only reliable rule is that there is no rule, says Jeremy. ‘Some planners and conservation officers are a law unto themselves and almost impossible to second-guess. Sometimes they will prefer the new extension to blend in with the architecture of the area, and other times the exact opposite is welcomed and a very modern or minimalist design is preferred.’
In the case of listed buildings, it’s vital to get the design balance right when adding modern glass extensions. ‘Planners are starting to favour the marriage of old and new with glass boxes just ‘kissing’ the original building; says Mark Caulfield of The Caulfield Company. Architect Gregory Phillips agrees: ‘I’ve learned that when designing an extension for a grand Victorian building, the architecture needs to have some gravitas, otherwise it runs the risk of looking like so many other ill-conceived additions, or worse, pastiche. Having something bold and modern doesn’t compete with an older building – it accentuates it,’ he says.