Why You Need a Side Return Extension in London

There are several home extension options available to London property owners; a side return extension is a popular choice as it is an ideal way to open up interior space and give a modern feel to a property. Apart from boosting the value of a property, a side return extension is particularly useful to large families who require additional space. In essence, the kitchen typically benefits from this type of extension, but a side return extension has several other benefits as well. Here are the top reasons for you to design and build a side return extension on your property: Continue reading

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It’s Time to extend your Kitchen!

For most homeowners, the decision to remodel their kitchen is a major one. While some prefer to go for full-scale re-modelling, others want to make the most out of what they have got.

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5 Creative Ideas for Side Return Extensions

Most Victorian terrace houses in the UK were constructed with a side return. The side return is usually unused and waste space. This has led to an increase in the popularity of side return extensions. Side return extensions are known for making the kitchen/dining area more spacious with an open plan design. In some cases, planning permission is not even required for these types of extensions. We are often asked whether extending into the side return is worth the effort but they are amazed to see the extent to which this extension can enhance the appearance of their home.

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Ideas and inspirations for your new kitchen floor

There can be various reasons for extending your home into the side return; one of the main reasons being a growing family. This is because it is easier to remain in the same house and add space to it, rather than moving to a completely different and unfamiliar place.

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Choosing the right flooring for your side return

Choosing the right material for the floor in your side return is important as it can really affect the feel and look of the new space. When considering which material to go with you should take into consideration factors such as the aesthetic appeal, practicality and heat retentive qualities.

Have a look at our review of three of the more popular options:

Porcelain tiles

A porcelain tiled floor is extremely durable, many tradesmen describe them as bombproof. They are also very easy to clean; simply wipe off those muddy footprints from the kids or the dog. From an aesthetic viewpoint, porcelain tiles are available in a wide variety of colours and designs and so are very adaptable to your taste and style. Porcelain tiles are also very compatible with underfloor heating as they tend to have great thermal conductivity and will provide good heat output.

Natural timber

Natural timber flooring has a luxurious, timeless appeal that will never go out of fashion. However if you wish to install a timber floor and you are planning on installing underfloor heating, then your best option is engineered timber rather than solid timber. This is because its structural stability enables the material to adapt well to fluctuating temperatures. Solid timber acts as a natural insulator and does not conduct heat. Another advantage of engineered timber flooring is that it is designed to reduce the moisture problems associated with conventional hardwood so it will not swell or warp.


Limestone floors have a classic look which is very aesthetically pleasing. They will be very hard wearing and durable but they are porous and therefore they are prone to staining. Acid-based cleaning chemicals can etch limestone, so these types of floors should only be cleaned with a neutral or mild alkaline-based cleaner. However limestone is a great choice if you are thinking of installing underfloor heating. This is because it is the most effective at thermal conduction of all floor coverings and so allows energy from the underfloor heating to transfer quickly to the room.

Whatever flooring option you go for, be sure to give it a lot of thought as a good floor will be long-lasting, add value and contribute to the overall look of your side return extension.

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How much value can a Side Return Extension add to my home?


Adding a side return extension to your home can bring huge benefits to your property. Not only will it add extra space, but it can help to bring in more light and even add value to your home.

A side return fills in the space between houses and, although it may not seem like you are extending by a great deal, you may be surprised by the difference those extra few feet can make. A side return could transform an ordinary kitchen into an open plan kitchen/diner; perfect for entertaining guests and creating a live-in space for all the family.

Alix Stuart-Bruges, director of Douglas and Gordon’s Clapham Common branch of estate agents (www.douglasandgordon.com) says that open plan kitchen spaces are very popular with buyers. She explains “from a saleability perspective this is a big tick in the box for a lot of people as they might not necessarily have the time to do the work themselves.”


Judy Urmossy, sales manager at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward’s Putney Hill branch (www.kfh.co.uk), adds: “Extending into the side return has become increasingly popular, especially among families. When combined with bi-folding doors to the garden it really brings the outside in, providing a space that everyone can use on a daily basis. These extensions are often beautifully modern and it’s become common to also install glass roofs which flood the room with natural light, being not only functional but also a very attractive design feature.”

The average price of a side return is £40,000 for a typical Victorian terraced house, but once you factor in the value this will add to your property, it’s likely to prove to be a good investment. “Along with the added floor space these extensions add, they can also increase the value of a terraced house considerably,” says Judy Urmossy. “In Putney this can vary from between £100,000 to £150,000 depending on the size and quality of the build.”

“In Fulham a side return extension could add anywhere between £100,000 and £400,000 in terms of added value,” says Dave Cleary, director of the Fulham office of Winkworth estate agents (www.winkworth.co.uk). “This of course depends on the size and the street the house is located on. These types of extension can really make a huge difference to a property.”

When considering how much value a side return extension can add to your home, you will most likely want to get an idea as to how much it might cost to install. Since each side return is different this will depend on the property, the amount of space, how many walls you want to remove and the materials used for the doors and roof. Have a look at our online calculator to get an idea of how much your project is likely to cost.

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How long does it take to build a Side Return Extension?


Once you have made the decision to transform your living space with a side return extension you are probably wondering how long the process is likely to take. It is useful to mentally prepare for what will be taking place during the project, particularly during the early stages, as there will be a lot of construction work going on and you may want to spend some time away from home while this is happening. From start to finish, a typical build is likely to take around 12 weeks and is usually divided into three main stages:

Weeks 1 – 4: Groundwork, foundations and brickwork

This first stage is likely to involve a lot of upheaval and demolition as the team carry out all the on-site construction work. This includes all groundwork and the creation of foundations, footings and walls. During this first stage, Build Team will liaise with your local council’s Building Control department to ensure that any requirements under the Building Regulations are complied with.


Weeks 5 – 8: Steelwork super structure, roof formation and floor screed

As work progresses, a new wall will be built either on the boundary of yours and your neighbour’s land, or just on your side of the boundary. The side wall to the existing rear room will either be completely or partially knocked through and a steel frame may need to be put in place to support the new opening. At this point, a new roof will be created. This may involve full glazing or a design with skylights to bring more light in. Lastly, floor screed will be laid down to provide a smooth surface for your choice of flooring.


Weeks 9 – 12: The finishing touches

During this final stage Build Team will oversee the installation of all doors and windows to your agreed design and specification. The team will then lay down your choice of flooring material and will take care of the internal finishing of the structure. This includes first and second fix electrics and plumbing, as well as plaster boarding and plastering. If you are opting for a full turnkey service from us, we will then install the kitchen units and electrical appliance. We will also put in place all the remaining fixtures and fittings before finalising the decoration to your specifications.

Hopefully this will give you a clearer idea of what is involved in a typical side return extension project. No two jobs will be the same of course, but we will always liaise with you throughout the process to keep you up to date and informed.

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Dissecting New Government Planning Regulations: What do they mean for you?


You’ll be forgiven for missing the changes to planning regulations introduced by the Government in May this year. Initially announced in September 2012 by David Cameron, the relaxation to the laws aimed to ‘slash unnecessary red tape across the planning system’. Ministers suggested that the changes would boost the economy by helping the construction sector and first-time buyers, but the plans were admittedly controversial, with several Tory back-benchers and Labour ministers arguing that they would simply ‘open the floodgates  to thousands of unsightly house extensions’.

The introduction of the Neighbour Consultation Scheme, while an appeasement to these ministers also reduces the time taken to obtain planning permission and the costs involved. While new regulations state that an extension or addition to your home is now considered a ‘Permitted Development’ and therefore is not subject to planning permission, this is still subject to an extensive list of limits and conditions.

Previous regulations, which stated that a single-storey rear extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m if an attached house or 4m if detached, have altered. A permitted development may now extend beyond the rear wall to 6m if an attached property and 8m if detached. Fantastic, you may think. This means you can build an extension without having to apply to the council for planning permission, only it doesn’t, your permitted development is now subject to the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.

Under the new scheme, homeowners wishing to build single-storey rear extensions larger than 3m must submit an application form including a detailed written description of the planning proposal, a plan of the site, the address of any adjoining properties (including the rear) and a contact address for the developer. The local authority will then serve a 21 day notice on the adjoining owners or occupiers and the development may only then go ahead after no objections have been raised within this period, or it is decided that the effect on the adjoining properties is acceptable.

Sounds complicated? An important factor is that the application process costs absolutely nothing and if the local authority does not notify you within a 42 day period the development may go ahead regardless. Building regulations do of course still apply and the extension must be built in accordance with the details approved by the local authority. It is strongly recommended that homeowners apply to their local borough for a Lawful Development Certificate following the Neighbour Consultation Scheme and prior to works commencing on site so that a record of the development is accessible via the Planning Register should the property be sold in the future.

The scheme, while seemingly confusing is designed to help those looking to increase the market value and size of their property. With property prices in London estimated at 61% higher than the national average, homeowners are finding it increasingly difficult to move. Terraced houses rarely afford the space necessary for a growing family and an extension can be the only practical option.

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The Benefits of Building a Side Return

If, every morning you survey the dark empty space on the side of your property and wonder what you can do with it, we may have the answer for you. A side return extension can offer several benefits and as they tend to offer a modest amount of additional volume to your property, do not always require full planning consent. New permitted development regulations make it easier to build a side return extension without going through endless amounts of red tape.  Lack of additional permission however is not the only benefit although it would undoubtedly make it easier to carry out your side return project.

By adding an extension to the side of the property and taking advantage of the often wasted space that runs down the side of your home, you will see how effective a side return can be at adding additional space and width to a room.  As kitchens in terraced properties are often placed at the rear of the building a side extension helps to extend what is often a long and narrow room, increasing the ground floor living space and using the usually wasted space in the garden.

Because of the rising cost of property within London people tend to look to more innovative ways to increase their living space. Victorian or Edwardian terrace type properties don’t always offer the space needed for a family and if you don’t want to, or can’t afford to move, a side extension would be the perfect solution. An extension of this type can add a considerable amount of market value to your home, an impressive 20-30%, which shows just how profitable a side return project can be.

One of the many design features to a side return extension could include a fully glazed roof, usually propped up by steel, timber or glass supports or perhaps skylights within the roof. With up to 40% more natural light entering from a roof light than from an equivalent sized window in a vertical wall, a side return extension would be effective in transforming a formally dark room.

Due to the nature of the extension they will almost always require a party wall notice to be served upon your neighbor due to the work that occurs. By providing a team of highly skilled tradesmen and ensuring that each step is closely monitored, you will start and end the design and build process in the hands of a Company Director and as such will not have to worry too much about any paperwork involved.

A side return extension can benefit your family home enormously whether in market value, extra ground floor space or by simply increasing the amount of natural light available within the room. If you feel your family home can benefit from a side return extension and have been considering starting a project of this nature, contact Build Team directly for a free, no obligation quote.

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A wise choice of kitchen…the VFM way.

They say the kitchen sits at the heart of the home, and there can be no nicer entertaining space than this kitchen we have recently fitted in a Side Return project near to Canary Wharf, E14. The client choose to invest their money on quality granite work-surfaces to complement perfectly good and hard-wearing kitchen units from IKEA. At Build Team, we think IKEA kitchens are great – they wear well, look good and best of all, they are excellent value for money – or VFM as we say!

So, our advice is to follow our client’s advice: spend the money on quality worksurfaces, and opt for well made, aesthetically pleasing, yet serviceable units from a reputable supplier such as IKEA or Howdens. It’s all about getting the best value for money!

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