How to: Building a kitchen extension

Building a kitchen extension is a great way of creating extra space and potentially adding value to your home at the same time.

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Whilst there are plenty of ways in which you can make the most of a small kitchen, you may be considering building a kitchen extension to get the space you want.

Opening up your new kitchen not only provides more options for cooking but it can also provide an area for dining, relaxing, working and entertaining. Some extensions will have doors opening onto the garden, creating that garden room feel which brings the outside in, while others simply create a more flexible space for the whole family to enjoy.

Before you start submitting plans and choosing your cabinetry, take time to consider all the elements carefully, as any mistakes can be costly later on.

There are a number of options to explore for achieving more kitchen space before building a kitchen extension. The simplest and cheapest is to knock down a stud partition wall between the kitchen and dining room to create a kitchen-diner or kitchen-living room. Many people prefer this open style of living to having a separate formal dining room and you’ll need to consult a structural engineer to ensure that the dividing wall isn't load bearing. If it is, you can install an RSJ (rolled steel joist), which will act as a support instead of the wall, but this will involve more disruption and additional cost.

If your property is a traditional Victorian terrace, filling in the side return can transform what was an awkward galley into a wider, brighter kitchen that could be large enough to include a dining area or living space. A glazed roof over the side return or a series of skylights will allow more natural light to flood in.

If there is sufficient room on your plot and you have the budget, adding a large extension onto your home is possibly the best way to create sufficient space to plan your perfect kitchen. Adding features such as bi-fold doors leading onto the garden is a wonderful way to bring the outside in and in the summer, it will provide the perfect alfresco dining experience, whatever the weather! Try to stay in keeping with the period and style of your property. Whilst a Georgian townhouse can look amazing with a modern glass box on the back, it can often be easier to get planning permission if the style of the extension is sympathetic to the original building.

Your choice of extension will very much depend on your budget as well as what offers you the best use of space to suit your lifestyle. A brand new extension is the ideal blank canvas in which to create your perfect kitchen and you can start from the very beginning, from where to position the sockets and light switches to installing underfloor heating and one of the latest flush-fit ceiling mounted extractors. There are no constraints in terms of existing electrics and plumbing, so make the most of it!

Whatever the extent of the renovation you are thinking about, you should always run it past your local planning officer first. Planning regulations can vary considerably from region to region so don’t assume that just because an extension may have been acceptable in a previous property in a different area, that the same rules will apply to where you live now. Special consideration is also needed for listed buildings and properties located in a National Park or Conservation Area.

Start by setting yourself a realistic budget and make sure you have a contingency fund in place for any unforeseen costs. If you are knocking through or adding on, look at the services available within the room – these are the electrics, plumbing, drains and gas connections. If they need to be moved, is this possible and affordable?

When it comes to the new layout, work out what you love and, more importantly, loath about your existing kitchen and make sure these issues are addressed and improved in the new design.

Once you have a bigger space at your disposal, try to include an island into your new kitchen design. These multifunctional units can be used for all sorts of things, from providing additional prep space to incorporating a sink and hob on top with oven, dishwasher, wine cabinet and fridge drawers below. They are also great for casual dining with a set of bar stools and ideal for entertaining, as you can cook and chat with guests at the same time.

Lighting is a key consideration and is something that can make a huge difference to the overall ambience of a kitchen renovation. Take time to assess the amount of natural light that comes into the area you are looking to extend into at different times of the day. This will not only impact on how much and where artificial lighting is required, but also how the kitchen is laid out. For instance, you may wish to position the dining table or main workspace where the most natural light comes in.

A kitchen extension is a major investment, so ask yourself what you want to achieve with the new space. When, how often and what will the renovated kitchen will be used for? These are all key questions, as your new space must deliver in terms of what is demanded from it. Don’t just look at what’s required right now, but also think about future-proofing the interior and consider the changing dynamics of your family and whether your home life will be dramatically different in five or ten years time. You may need somewhere for young children to play now but in years to come you will also need somewhere for them to do their homework and relax with friends.

There are many things to consider when planning a kitchen extension but the most important is to try to have fun with the process, don’t get stressed at the little things and improve what’s already in place.