Avoid These Common Mistakes When Extending Your Terrace
A traditional terraced house provides its own unique challenges if you want to extend. Here are some points to consider and mistakes to avoid.
The towns and cities around the UK love their terraces. The word might conjure images of traditional Victorian two up / two downs that line the outskirts of many cities, and while there are still plenty of these around, terraces can be contemporary, too. Today, designers and architects need to make every inch count, and a terrace is the most efficient way of doing so.
Whether it is old or new, if you are planning an extension to your terrace, there is usually only one direction it can take. Sideways is out of the question, forwards is also not an option in the majority of cases. That leaves extending to the rear. Here are some points to keep in mind.
Don’t upset the neighbours
You’re never far from the neighbours in a terrace, and if you plan to extend, you’ll need them on side. For one thing, you will almost certainly need party wall agreements – get expert party wall advice to make sure, but in the vast majority of cases, you will be constructing or digging foundations within three metres of their property, in which case, serving a party wall notice is obligatory.
Neighbourly cooperation isn’t limited to getting the right approvals and permits, though. Many terraces have restricted access to the rear. If you need to get building equipment and plant round the back there’s a good chance you are going to need their cooperation.
Let there be light
In a terrace, you only have natural light coming in from the front and the rear. If you extend out back, be careful not to create a central room that is perpetually gloomy. Keep things as open-plan as possible – after all, who really wants a home that feels like a succession of railway carriages?
Also, make sure your new extension lets in as much light as possible. With a single-storey extension, you can incorporate skylights for this purpose. If you are going the whole hog with a two storey extension, seriously consider full-width bifolding doors. Today, they use materials that have high thermal efficiency, and they really serve to provide a feeling of spaciousness.
See the big picture
Remember that railway carriage allusion earlier? It applies to the whole house, not just the downstairs room at the rear. If you have an older terrace, it was probably built with lots of small rooms. Back then, they loved doors, and there were walk in cupboards and similar nooks and crannies all over the place.
If this sounds familiar, take the opportunity while you are adding your extension to make it part of a whole remodel. Bring the entire property into the 21st century, and you will achieve two things. First, you’ll have a beautiful, airy and contemporary living space. And secondly, your extension will not have the appearance of an afterthought tagged on to the back of the house. In fact, it won’t look like an extension at all.