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How to choose between a single and double storey extension

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When your beloved family home is bursting at the seams, adding an extension is almost a no-brainer. But how do you choose between a single and double storey extension? Going up as well as out can give you more room to play with while sticking to a single storey could be quicker and cheaper to do. Whatever way you look at it, it’s a big decision that needs a lot of thought. Here’s some of the practicalities you need to think about. 

How much space do you need?

How much space you need is one of the biggest things that will determine whether you’re better off with a single or double storey extension. If you need more bedrooms, bathrooms and living space, then that’s only going to be feasible with a larger, double storey extension. However, if it’s just a pokey kitchen that’s the problem, then a small, single storey extension will probably resolve it. 

However, it’s no good thinking purely in terms of what you need right now. You also need to think about your future requirements, especially if you have a growing family or parents that are getting older. Would a double storey extension future-proof your home and save the need for more building work further down the line?

What type of space would you benefit from?

It’s not always just about how much space you need. The type of space you want should also be an important factor. What kind of extension could improve your life? 

If you’re dreaming of a bedroom with an en-suite and balcony or terrace to give you an adult space away from the kids, then you’re probably looking at a double storey extension. But if you’re not socialising with loved ones because you just don’t have the entertaining space, then perhaps a single storey extension to house an open-plan kitchen-diner is all you need to bring friends and family closer. 

What kind of budget do you have?

Realistically, the size of any extension you build is going to be determined by the money you have or can safely borrow. If you start with big plans and then find you need to adapt them or you run out of cash part way through, it’s going to be a bit of a nightmare and very disappointing. 

So, you need to know the costs involved, to work out what you can afford to do. The average cost of a double storey extension is around £60,000. Meanwhile, a single storey extension averages out nearer £35,000. But either way, costs can easily rise depending on the design and area you live in, so both need careful consideration.

Where you live

Where you live will play an important role in what, if any, extension you have. Listed homes, close neighbours and conservation areas can all limit what you are allowed to build while your location could affect the cost of labour to do the work.

And that’s not all. The ceiling price of homes in your area is a consideration. Will you see a good return from building a double storey extension if you decide to sell? Of course, if it’s your forever home, this might not matter to you. 

Do you want to go through planning?

In many cases, a small, single storey extension can be done under permitted development. A double storey extension, more often than not, needs planning permission. So, this is important to bear in mind. 

Although both single and double storey extensions take between 12 and 18 weeks to build, but planning permission can add another eight to 13 weeks to your timescale. Where there are close neighbours and other restrictions, there can be some toing and froing between you, your architect and the planning department to get approval. The position of roof lines and windows amongst other things can delay permission and add to your costs. 

What level of disruption can you cope with?

It’s more than likely that you’re going to continue living in the house while the building work is being done. The more straightforward your design, the less disruption there’ll be. So, you might find a single storey rear or side extension limits the level of disruption, enabling you to get on with day-to-day family life. 

Although a double storey extension may also go on the rear or side of your home, it’s likely that existing layouts need to be altered to ensure the house flows properly. This means you could be living on a building site, which isn’t necessarily practical with small children. And of course, moving out for a few months can be costly. 

However, a single storey extension isn’t always the least disruptive option, especially if it’s only a short-term fix. Building out first then going up at a later date means you’ll have two periods of upheaval. So, you might be better going for a double storey extension to get all the building work done in one go, rather than in stages.

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