House Extensions

Extending your home is a great idea when you adore the area, your kids go to amazing schools and the neighbours are lovely but you just don’t have enough space to live comfortably.

You need creative and inspirational designs that take into account the requirements of your own family. We include special ideas you already have such as an orangery or feature bi-fold doors as well as any budgetary constraints you need us to take into consideration.

We help our clients through the whole process from advice about whether planning permission is needed (the work might be ‘permitted development’) to providing Building Regulation details so you can get accurate quotes from builders.

We can suggest specialists to assist with legal matters such as restrictive covenants and party wall issues. We will even recommend builders if you’d like, for your own peace of mind. We offer a consultant project manager service throughout the life of the project to make sure everything runs smoothly for you.

The majority of larger extensions require planning permission although smaller extensions can often be built under permitted development rights. This can be a tricky area as the legislation is rather complicated but we are always on hand to guide our clients in the right direction.

Every planning application we have made has been granted consent. Not every architect can say this; we are proud of our success.

The process will usually start with a phone call or an email. Once we know the address and can get a feel for the size and complexity of the proposed project we will give a fixed quotation for our fee and the likely planning and Building Control costs.

Our fee includes a range of options – as many as we can think of – and any amendments or alterations we make to the drawings are included in the price until you are delighted with the proposed extension and internal layout.

Before we can start work on the designs we will come to see you and talk through what you want to achieve.

Most clients want more spacious living accommodation with the popular open plan kitchen/dining/family living area across the rear of the home being high on the list, as well as more bedrooms and bathrooms with perhaps a loft or garage conversion.

Some people have specific requirements such as a dog wetroom or runner’s shower (or somewhere to send muddy football-playing kids) downstairs, convenient to an exterior door so the muddy one can be within the bathroom quickly before too many drips fall, or an integral bike store for those expensive items that are too valuable to leave out in a shed.

We’ll ask you questions. A family with independent teenagers has a different set of requirements to parents with young children who want a large kitchen/family room downstairs with maybe a play room and bedrooms close together upstairs.

We will help you to reconfigure the existing layout as well as adding additional rooms depending on your family circumstances so, for example, elderly parents in need of some close family support can enjoy the company of the youngsters but have privacy and peace when they need a snooze or just time alone.

We take photographs, make sketches and take a careful note of all necessary measurements. Then the creative work starts. We will give you a full set of plans and elevations of the existing property as well as a range of options for you to choose from for your new project.

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Once the drawings are ready we’ll arrange to see you again so we can present our ideas to you and talk through with you which options we think will suit you best. Sometimes clients make an immediate decision as to their favourite set of designs, more usually people ask for a day or so to consider at their leisure. That’s absolutely fine, just let us know when you’ve decided.

We’ll make any amendments completely free of charge, and then submit the planning application if necessary on your behalf. The government charges £206 in planning fees for an extension to a residential property.

The planning permission process takes around eight weeks –  four weeks for the neighbour consultation period and a further four weeks for the appointed planning officer to visit the site, consider the application and then make a formal decision.

Planning permission, once granted, lasts for three years although once you’ve started constructing the project the permission never expires.

If you hope in the future to, say, have a loft extension but right now only have the budget for an extension we could draw both projects as ‘Phase 1’ and ‘Phase 2’ so when you were ready to do the second project you’d already have the plans drawn up. Great value, and inspired forward thinking.

If your property lies in a Conservation Area we’ll make sure our designs are sympathetic to the surrounding environment. We’ll give you advice about the likely implication of a Tree Preservation Order on an extension you’d like to construct as well as other guidance such as if the property lies in a Flood Risk area.

Even if you do not need planning permission for your extension because you are using permitted development rights, you must get Building Control approval. The Building Regulations set out minimum requirements for structural integrity, fire safety, energy efficiency, damp proofing, ventilation and other key aspects that ensure a building is safe and comfortable to live in.

Most repair work or renovations to the existing building is excluded from the Building Regulations with the exceptions of replacement windows, under­­pinning and rewiring. However, apart from certain new buildings such as sheds, outbuildings and some conser­vatories, all new building work, including altera­tions, must comply with the Building Regulations.

Typical examples of work needing to comply with Building Regulations:

  1. Home extensions including a loft or garage conversion and basement.
  2. Internal structural alterations, such as the removal of a load-bearing wall or chimney.
  3. Installation of baths, showers and WCs which involve new drainage or waste plumbing.
  4. New or altered openings for new windows.
  5. Installation of new heating appliances although the installer can be part of a competent person self-certification scheme.
  6. New chimneys or flues.

Our fixed fee includes the Building Regulation drawings and details that will be required by Building Control and your builder, and we can recommend a structural engineer to provide the structural calculations that Building Control will need.

Please don’t be put off by how complicated this all sounds! Trust us, we have done it all before and have enabled hundreds of householders to extend their homes without any fuss. We’re there for you from your very first idea to helping you select builders and then celebrating the finished project when that final coat of paint has been applied.

Why not jot your details down here and we’ll get in touch with you? Or please do give us a ring to discuss your ideas or ask any questions you might have on 01143 211787.

Rear Extensions

The majority of rear extensions are single-storey, probably don’t require planning permission and are generally used to extend the kitchen/living areas and, often, to provide a separate utility room and new or relocated downstairs cloakroom/wc. Our clients almost invariably ask us to create structural openings in existing walls to provide for stunning open plan kitchen and dining areas with family living space too.

We design rear extensions with the ‘wow factor’ in mind. In order to bring natural light into the centre of the house (ie the rooms that were originally the ‘back rooms’) we design roof lights either on a pitched roof  or set at an angle to allow light to penetrate deeper into the room. A lantern light fitted into a flat roof (perhaps with a low parapet wall concealing the flat roof) can provide an amazingly sunny focal point above a dining table or kitchen island in a new extension.

Sliding patio doors are enjoying renewed popularity although French doors and bi-fold doors are still very much in demand. Bi-fold doors are typically a set of 3 or more standard size glass doors that open in a concertina style and neatly fold flat when open. Unlike a sliding patio door that remains only half open, bi-fold doors fully open to perfectly connect your living space with your garden. However, with a sliding door you get the benefit of larger expanses of glass and the view isn’t impaired by as many frame lines when the door is shut.

Bi-fold doors are perfect if you’re looking to create a wide and bright seamless transition between indoors and out and you are confident of many warm days when you’ll be able to open up the back of the house by folding back the bi-fold panels. It’s all a matter of personal choice, and a lovely light room can be achieved at a more modest cost by the use of traditional large windows and fixed glazing panels.

We do sometimes design two-storey side extensions that protrude further than the rear of the original house in order to provide enhanced bedroom or bathroom space upstairs. It makes sense in these circumstances to locate a utility or wc/shower room beneath at ground floor level with perhaps access to the rear garden from the garage.

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Side Extensions

Two-storey side extensions will create more bedroom and bathroom space on the first floor and will generally require planning permission. At ground floor level they can incorporate (or create) a garage or bike storage shed or playroom/home office to the front and often a utility room and downstairs wc with perhaps a shower room to the rear.

As the side extension will often cover the existing drive or remove the garage through conversion to living accommodation, alternative provision has to be made for parking spaces in order to provide adequate parking to meet planning requirements. These are matters we will naturally consider and advise upon when we’re drawing up the proposed plans.

With sufficient head height in the attic, a loft conversion is often designed as part of the project to construct a side extension. Depending on the locality and the character of the immediate neighbourhood planning permission may be granted to raise the existing roof in order to provide generous additional rooms on the third floor in conjunction with a dormer window to the rear and roof windows to the front.

It may well make a difference to your chances of getting planning permission if your neighbour has already extended across their driveway. The planning authority is concerned to prevent a ‘terracing’ effect which is where a number of houses adjacent to each other have (or would like to) built an extension across the drive as this destroys the original ‘street scene’ of the properties on the road.

It is important to preserve the character of the original property with thoughtful designs for the proposed extension. One way to achieve the desired effect is by ‘setting back’ the extension from the main building by a nominal amount of between 50mm and 500mm, depending on the location of the property within the street setting.

Matching materials would usually be required as one of the conditions of the planning permission although on occasions an appropriate contrasting or more unusual material or colour scheme would receive support from the planning officer; this is something about which we would gladly provide suggestions and advice.

Loft Conversions

Loft conversions are a great way to create additional bedroom accommodation and bathrooms and often do not require planning permission. Adding a dormer window to the rear, fitting roof windows to the front and altering a hip roof to a gable wall is all permitted development and as long as the created space does not exceed the specified limits construction can often take place with no input from the planning department.

Building Regulations, especially as regards fire safety, do need to be taken into account in particular with the provision of a protected fire route from the new attic rooms. If a sprinkler system is not to be installed throughout, there needs to be a lobby with a door, usually at the top of the stairs on the third floor, and all doors leading onto the stairway, landings and hall until the outside can be reached have to be replaced with fire doors and door furniture (ie handles and hinges) capable of withstanding 30 mins of fire.

A larger project incorporating a two-storey side extension with a loft conversion can often provide two generous-sized bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms in the attic. Without a side extension and in the absence of the exceptionally high ceilings typically found in older properties, it is often necessary to ‘lose’ the box room/smallest bedroom to situate the attic stairs. A property with high ceilings may, in certain situations, be able to have the attic stairs taken off the landing and running parallel above the existing stairs.

Building Regulations specify the headroom on stairs and it is this requirement, as well as the fire safety issue, that controls where the new stairs have to go. An interlinked smoke alarm system is also required to be fitted.

Although there is no minimum head height (ie floor to ceiling height) under Building Regulations we would propose that at least 2.2m height is achieved in the main circulation areas in the attic accommodation. We would advise if the roof height needed to be raised in order to provide a comfortable living (and showering) experience in the attic.

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Basement Conversions

Sheffield and other local towns and villages are potentially ideal areas for basement conversions as properties are often built on hillsides with the ground at the rear already lower than at the front. This enables natural light and views from basement windows and even possibly access to the garden in a way that is not feasible when the property and surrounding ground is on one level.

A structural engineer will be engaged to provide calculations for underpinning of the existing property unless a basement or cellar already exists with adequate headroom. This would be rare as current Building Regulations require significant thermal insulation in the floor as well as sound insulation between the basement/ground floors; traditional cellars and basements were not constructed with the modern requirement for waterproofing and insulation.

Fire safety is also an important factor and an alternative means of escape needs to be considered and provided. This can be tricky as a light well with an escape window on the outside of the main property can take up a surprisingly large amount of space and feel quite intrusive if not thoughtfully designed.

Basements have a tendency to water invasion; a pump may need to be installed to continually remove water from the area.

Building Control will be engaged to inspect all relevant work (whether an extension, loft or garage conversion or basement) at key stages and will subsequently issue a completion certificate to warrant the inspected work as being compliant with Building Regulations.


Garages, Porches and Outbuildings

Converting a garage to additional living accommodation is a cost-effective way of adding to your living space without expensive construction of foundations and walls. Planning permission is unnecessary if you don’t need to alter the structure of the building so a garage conversion is permitted in most circumstances. However, detached garages are likely to require planning permission for change of use when converted to habitable rooms.

You will need Building Regulation details for construction work attached to the main dwellinghouse and some outbuildings as these ensure fire safety as well as covering other aspects such as insulation, sound, weatherproofing and ventilation. We can provide everything you need for Building Control to assess the project and then give a Completion Certificate once the work is complete.

If you still want storage space accessible from the outside it often makes sense to create a shortened area at the front of the original garage for ‘bike storage’ that retains the outward appearance of a garage with the existing up-and-over door to allow easy access for lawn mowers, patio furniture etc and yes, bikes, and even bins if you like.

Outbuildings usually won’t require planning permission – although if you live in a Conservation Area there are more restrictions. The permitted development rules governing outbuildings apply to sheds, greenhouses and garages as well as other ancillary garden buildings such as home gyms, studios, swimming pools, ponds, sauna cabins, kennels, enclosures (including tennis courts) and many other kinds of structure for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse. We will gladly provide advice to you.

A bricks-and-mortar outbuilding provides more security than a timber shed for costly items such as bikes and adds value to your property – as well as offering the opportunity for recreational use. We have several clients with a home bar in their garden where they happily entertain friends and family away from the domestic living rooms in the main house.

A modest porch at the front of the house is usually permitted development which means planning permission is not required, and provides welcoming warmth at the entrance to your home as well as an additional level of security and a place to kick off shoes and hang up wet coats without cluttering up the hallway.

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Landscaping and Garden Solutions

To be truly successful, most house extension projects would greatly benefit from improvements to the landscaping and garden layout, whether minor fine-tuning or a complete overhaul to ensure the new works bring real pleasure to your whole living experience.

As part of our design service we will gladly suggest ideas that will allow you to get the best out of your outdoor space in conjunction with the French/bi-fold/sliding doors/windows to the new extension. Love the difference you achieve and wow your friends with the stunning effect!

Fresh landscaping is never more important than when your garden has a change in levels. A rear extension with new access routes to the house whether via bifolds/other wide doors or just a new back door suggests a rethink of how the garden/amenity area will be used. Our intention is to help you have attractive views from inside the house, to invite the eye or the entire person (depending on the weather) to venture forth from the new extension and explore the beautiful outdoors sanctuary you create.

Don’t forget to make the garden attractive year-round so it’s inviting from within the house. Planters and pots can easily be planted with seasonal bedding plants or attractive shrubs and bushes and moved out of sight or replaced with new stock to keep the view fresh and interesting.

Permeable surfaces are a sustainable solution – as well as bringing beauty – to the prospect of a patio or pathway flooding in heavy rainfall. Natural Indian sandstone slabs, block paving, gravel or chippings are all so much nicer than old-fashioned and unattractive concrete or tarmac. We will gladly offer suggestions although a trip around a few garden centres will whet your appetite too for what you can achieve for a relatively low cost.

A low-maintenance green roof on a single-storey extension can greatly increase your pleasure of the view from a first floor Juliet balcony in front of French doors to the master bedroom, or even just beneath an ordinary bedroom window.

If your extension has taken valuable space from a smaller garden, how about compensating for the lost garden area by providing a green roof? It helps to soak up excess rain water and provides a forum for wildlife as well as being an attractive feature in its own right.

So, why come to Ecclesall Design?

We are proud of our 100% success record. Every planning application we have submitted has been granted approval. There aren’t many architects or architectural services providers around who can boast of that record! We have achieved it by being honest to clients about the likelihood of their aspirations being granted planning approval and by making sure that we only take on projects where we are confident of success. We’re not saying we’re perfect but so far we haven’t been wrong… we really will do our best to achieve what you want. Our excellent reputation matters to us and our many personal recommendations rely on our continued success.

Most projects can be made to fall comfortably within current planning guidelines – as long as your professional designer knows what they’re doing, which we do, and if we’re in doubt we recommend that we submit a Pre-application Enquiry on your behalf with plans that show clearly what you’d like to achieve. This application buys us very helpful time and consideration from a Planning Officer to provide ‘informal officer advice’ as to which option the Planning Authority would be likely to support.

A Pre-application Enquiry might be used, for example, if you have a property with a large garden in a Conservation Area, and you’re wondering whether you’d achieve planning permission for a new build house in part of the garden. Once the Planning Officer has evaluated the application in conjunction with colleagues such as the Conservation Team we are given feedback so that when your formal planning application is submitted you can be confident of the support of the Planning Authority. This approach applies if you’re looking for a larger extension where guidance from the Planning Authority would be welcomed prior to the formal planning application being submitted.

We are happy to note that every Pre-application Enquiry we have ever submitted has achieved support for the formal application. The last thing we’d want is be paid to ‘draw plans’ that don’t ultimately achieve planning permission (unless of course the project is ‘Permitted Development’ so doesn’t need planning permission – that’s absolutely ok).

Even before we get to the point of submitting details to the Planning Authority, we will first survey your existing property/land, take photographs and measurements then draw a set of existing plans and elevations. We sometimes recommend that you obtain a topographical survey.

A topographical survey would usually be carried out for a new build, and some large extensions, to establish an accurate layout of the available land and any existing structures including dwellinghouses, boundary walls, outhouses and anything else significant such as trees and neighbouring properties. A failure to establish accurately what exists in the proximity of the proposed project could result in the intended construction project not fitting into the available land so we believe it is a fundamental requirement to any project where space is at a premium.

If your project fits the Permitted Development rules, we would recommend that a Lawful Development Certificate be sought, at a fee of half the normal planning fee. This is not essential but it provides you with peace of mind and may well be required if you subsequently decide to sell your home. We would make the application on your behalf as part of our fee; you would only pay the fee required by the Planning Authority.

Once you have the final drawings we’ll sort out the Building Regulations details for you. Our price includes providing the Building Regulation plans, section drawings, drainage drawings and other details that Building Control need to approve the plans for a fee of £180, payable to Building Control. Once the details have been assessed Building Control will let you know the structural calculations that are required from a structural engineer; we can recommend an excellent structural engineer at this point.

The first step to take is to get in touch – let’s get your project started!