Are you looking to build your dream home? Do you want to give your existing home a make over?

Well you are in the right place to find information about the best way to renovate, build and decorate a home, whether it’s DIY or hiring professionals to do the job.

We aim to publish articles about architecture, extensions, landscaping, interior design, eco design, DIY and more for those with more of creative outlook.

For example, does your dream home have a pizza oven in the garden? or a microbrewery in the shed? (ours does!)

Maybe its in the centre of a city with a roof garden to die for, overlooking the city. Or perhaps it’s a tucked away rural retreat in a converted mill house?

If you want to share your ideas – please get in contact!

admin August 30, 2013 Leave A Comment Permalink

Side Return Extension Guide

Side Return Extension in Clapham London

We have recently had a lot of enquiries asking for advice on the best way to plan a side return extension project. It seems that kitchen extensions, especially involving the removal of the side return wall in Victorian terraced houses, are becoming an increasingly popular home improvement

We of course work with various professionals who are well experienced in carrying out side extensions to victorian terrace properties. These projects are especially popular in London and other major UK cities where there is a high concentration of Victorian terraces that have notoriously narrow kitchens. The desire for wide open plan kitchens has increased in modern times, and extending a house has become very popular due to the fact that it adds a lot value to the property if done well. So  we have put together this little guide to help answer any questions you have about side return extensions.

What is a Side Return Extension?

Ok lets start with the basics: a side return extension involves the removal of the side return wall at the back of a house, and the building of new steel supports, a new party wall, along with  a new roof.

The new roof of your side extension, can either be slated with velux skylights, or completely glazed for lots of extra light.

If you do go for the completely glazed side return we recommend installing motorised blind system, so that you can get some shade on a very sunny day, and avoid the kitchen extension from becoming too hot.

what is a side return extention


The typical size of a side return ranges from 25 square meters to 50 square meters so can really make an impact on your living space.

How much does a typical side return extension cost?

Ok well there is no standard cost of a side return extension, but they are usually between £40,000 and £100,000 at the very top end.

Here’s where your budget will go:

Architect fees: – You are going to need the services of a good architect who will be able to draw up detailed plans for any work

This will cost you up to £1500 on average

Structural Engineer fees: You will also need plans from a structural engineer which can cost an average of £1000

Permission from council: Although a side return extension is a permitted development it will still need you to submit your plans to the council which costs £75 in the UK.

Building costs: – labour and materials etc usually cost between £35,000 and £40,000

Electrics plumbing and fittings: – these aspects of your side return extension usually cost around £15000

Safety Planning: this will cost in the region of £1000

How much value can a side return extension add to a London home?

According to London estate agents, side return extensions that make the kitchen open plan, and give direct access to the garden make a property very desirable to future buyers.

In prime residential areas of London such as Putney or Fulham you can increase the value of a property by £100,000 to £200,000 depending on the quality of your extension. This makes side return kitchen extension a very good investment in most cases.

How long will a side return extension take to complete?

The average completion time of your side return kitchen extension, after planning will be roughly 12 weeks, and some people choose to move out during this time into temporary accommodation to avoid the disruption.

These are the stages of completion

Weeks 1 – 4 –  Demolition and Laying the new foundations

Old walls will be demolished, new foundations laid all in line with the councils building control regulations.

Weeks 5-8 – The side return wall is demolished and the new steel super structure built

A new boundary wall is built first and then the side return wall is knocked through. Then the steel super structure is built.

Weeks 9-12 – The Fittings, electrics and plumbing

The electrics and plumbing is fitted, the roof fitted and plastering completed according the the agreed specifications.

The doors and windows of your side extension are then completed.

If you want more information on costs for your side return extension then you can visit this website:

Side Return Extension London | Family Home Building


What you need to know about Loft Conversions

Right now loft conversions are one of the best ways to add value and space to a property and a currently very popular. A good conversion will allow you to create a unique space in your home, such as a bedroom, a film room, an entertaining room or bathroom.

Although a loft conversion can involve up to 6 weeks of work depending on the scale of the job – it can be a lot less intrusive than a house extension, which are also popular when people are renovating their property.

Some loft conversions can add two extra rooms to a house which in the current property climate here in the UK will more than pay for the conversion itself.

As an example, one of our associates recently had a loft conversion in London which he found through this website: Loft conversion London, and paid £30,000 for a conversion which almost instantly added £50,000 to the property!

The first thing to do if you are considering converting your loft or attic is to make sure you use a good loft conversion company that has properly certified architects. We recommend hiring a company that can show you references and examples of their work.

A typical loft conversion schedule

(Here’s a loft conversion schedule which we original found on a  Homebuilding and Renovation article

2. An inspection of the inside of the roof space will provide information as to its suitability for conversion. The main features to initially consider include height, access and obstacles. Here, a water storage tank and chimney stacks formed the main obstacles, but the height and pitch suggested that conversion was possible.

3. An architect or surveyor will confirm the loft’s suitability for conversion. It is also necessary to take into account whether the building will be adequate to take the added load of a conversion. Following this, plans are drawn which also provide a basis for cost analysis, and what tasks can be done on a DIY basis.

4. With Building Control approval, work can be started by clearing the loft space. In this example the water storage tank was redundant because a new combi boiler was fitted. If this is still required then it will need to be moved to a convenient space to the side. Two chimney stacks were removed.

5. The electrical wiring and other services that are attached to joists and binders must be removed and rerouted. It provides a good opportunity to replace and improve the original wiring. This requirement is likely to mean that some services may not be available until the new wiring and any pipework can be replaced.

6. The new floor joists can now be fitted. The actual sizes will depend upon the spans, but might typically be 50mm x 220mm C24 or C16 timbers spaced at 400mm intervals. Where there is a window or door opening below this is bridged by doubled-up timber suspended between doubled-up joists. The intermediate joists are attached to the window bridge using joist hangers. New wiring and any required pipework can now be installed.

7. The spaces between the joists are filled with insulation to a depth of 100mm. Following Building Control inspection, the joists can be covered with floorboards. The roofing struts and hangers are temporary but securely reinstalled until suitable replacement arrangements are in place.

8. The tongue-and-groove chipboard floorboards are held in place with screws. A water-resistant grade is a good choice, and essential in the bath or shower room.

9. Work can now be started in rafter reinforcement in accordance with the structural requirements, so that the purlins, struts and collars can be safely removed. This will open up the area.

10. Dormers can now be installed. This will involve opening up the roof, so dry weather is desirable to avoid the risk of water damage. The Building Control officer will inspect to ensure that the roof structure reinforcements are as specified.

11. Two end dormers were fitted, and a mid dormer that is destined to be the shower room.

12. Roof windows are an effective way of letting in natural light. In this project a roof window was fitted above the stairwell. These require the surrounding timbers to be reinforced but are easier to fit than dormers.

13. The point at which the staircase is fitted will depend upon individual circumstances, but when in place will give easier access to the loft area. In this example the hallway was widened by knocking down a non-loadbearing front room to the hallway wall and rebuilding the wall 450mm into the front room.

14. The dormers are tiled and clad to fully weatherproof them. The end dormers in this example have tiled roofs and tile cladding, whereas the shower room has a felted flat roof and tile cladding. Scaffolding will be required for safe working. Ridge and soffit vents are fitted at a convenient stage.

15. The windows are fitted in the dormer openings previously accurately measured. PVCu Class ‘A’ windows were fitted here with an egress hinge on the side-opening sash to provide a good fire exit.

16. Insulation is placed between the rafters, with a 50mm air gap between the roofing felt and the insulation, for ventilation purposes. Over this is further insulation giving a total of 100mm. In the roof space above there is 300mm of mineral wool insulation. Building Control inspection is required before the rafters and insulation are covered.

17. The partition walls are erected. These use 47mm x 100mm timber studs at 400mm centres, with additional noggings. A quilt is placed within the spaces between the studs as the plasterboard is attached.

18. Wall plates fitted between studs will provide a secure fitting to items like radiators; they can also be used to secure the boxes required for electric sockets and switches. This is an ideal time to do the first fix electrics and plumbing.

19. The new electrics must conform to Part ‘P’ of the Building Regulations and the 17th Edition Electrical Regulations. It may be necessary to fit a new consumer unit, or additional unit if the existing one has no extra capacity.

20. Access panels are a useful addition. Here, water supplies and central heating feeds can be connected to the loft conversion. All metal pipework is earth-bonded together.

21. Plasterboard attached to the studs and rafters with drywall screws will provide the basis for the decorative plaster skim. Following this, the area is painted as required, and door architrave, skirting etc. fitted and painted.

22. The shower room walls are best clad with a cement-based aquaboard, first ensuring that all the required wall plates are fitted, and that all the required services are accessible. The shower room also requires an extractor fan.

23. With wall and floor tiling complete, the shower room items can be positioned and fitted. Second fix electrics and plumbing is progressed at a suitable time. The radiators are fitted in place, and connected to the central heating system. This picture also shows cupboard doors fitted to make use of the area behind for storage. Finally its time to decorate.

– See more at:

The Three kinds of Loft Conversion

Dormer Loft Conversion

dormer loft conversion

image from sky loft

This is an extension to the height of your roof and will involve exposing the beams of your roof – so best carried out in months when there is less rain.

This is great if you want to add lots of extra space and light to your attic.

In the UK the most popular type of dormer loft conversion is a flat roof dormer. There are also shed dormers, gated fronted dormers and hipped roof dormers.

These can be a bit ugly compared to other types of loft conversion, as they involve adding to the roof, although in many cases they do not require planning permission.

Velux Loft Conversion

Velux loft conversion

This involves installing Velux rooflight windows into the pitch of the roof to allow sunlight to flood the newly converted loft. These are a very unobtrusive style of loft conversion as they fit into any roof style, and don’t require planning permission.

They just require there to be enough space in the attic to begin with.

Mansard Conversions

mansard loft conversion

This kind of conversion require the most construction work but can result in a great deal of extra living space, more than the other kinds.

These loft conversions are famously named after a 17th century French Architect Francois Mansart, and are very popular in London UK.

These almost always require planning permission and will take longer than the other kinds of conversion.

Some unique examples of loft conversions

cool loft conversion huge loft conversion
attic conversion idea

a loft wardrobe

new style loft conversion

image from The Daily Telegraph

admin September 26, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink

Furnishing for your dream home

furnishing your dream home

Let’s face it a great deal of time is spent using your residence’s furniture. This is why it is so important to have solid as well as well constructed furniture pieces in your house. The list below article will assist you in getting original furniture at wonderful rates.

When you buy a couch, find one that is intended to have a long life and then decide if it is adequately comfortable. In certain, examine the springs. Hand-tied springs are perfect, however serpentine versions can be excellent too. Test them out by feeling and poking at them with the upholstery. You really need to be feeling something that is firm with close together positioning.

Bear in mind that furniture could be costly, but you could probably  find a great used alternatives at garage sales and classified advertisements such as ebay’s classic furniture section where you can find some absolute gems. Once you have the furnishings, you can take it to get reupholstered. You can not only save money you can get something really original.

When buying home workplace furnishings, get pieces that can be used for more than main thing. For example, you can make use of an armoire for keeping supplies and your printer. When you aren’t printing, the room appears neat due to the fact that you have the ability to close up the armoire.

Pick sturdy furniture when you are shopping for brand-new pieces. When picking wood furnishings, purchase solid wood pieces instead of veneer or pressed pieces. Select plywood rather of fiber board or composite wood backings. See to it it does not move on either side when you apply pressure.

Before you set off to go shopping for furniture, have a budget plan in mind. The prices for similar furniture pieces can vary significantly. The last thing you want to do is spend beyond your means on an item due to the fact that you did not plan ahead. Keeping a figure in your head is an excellent way to ensure you don’t overspend.

Make sure when you are purchasing furniture on the web. Read consumer reviews on the Internet and inspect in with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to see if the company has any grievances versus it. Likewise, do not neglect taxes, shipping and handling when factoring together the final overall cost.

At some time in your furnisher shopping, get offline and see real establishments. Online shopping has its benefits, specifically for discovering all offered alternatives, but being in front of a good piece of furniture has no substitute. You will be able to see if it’s comfortable and how it actually looks.

How much use will your furnishings get in your house? Children and animals are tough on furnishings, and anything you acquire have to be tough and easy to clean. Having animals in your home should also influence your selection of fabric types and colors on chairs and sofas. Great deals of animals tend to shed, and certain materials are known for attracting hair.

Before you accept furnishings from people, think about the condition. They may be wanting to get rid of it due to the fact that it is sagging, awkward or other unsolvable problems. Purchasing made use of furnishings can be excellent, however you just have to look into how much life it has actually left.

If you’re purchasing home furnishings that you’ll sit or sleep on, find out if it’s comfy. You spend much time on your bed and other furniture, so they need to not only be quite but very comfortable.

Look into classified ads online if you want to find totally free furniture. You may be able to find some wonderful pieces. It is often the case that people do away with old chairs and tables when all the items require is an excellent clean up. With some effort and a little time, you could turn a handful of dollars into an incredible furnishings set.

Little furnishings pieces are a terrific means to alter the feel of a space. You probably cannot purchase large couches every day, but every couple months, try altering your space utilizing small pieces like lamps and end tables. This is a fast method to spice up any room.

Your spending plan is necessary, however you shouldn’t however an unsightly piece simply since it’s low-cost. Additionally, you can take advantage of the layaway choice. You would be much better off making the effort to spend for the furniture you really really want.

Look into used choices you can personalize to match your needs. You can locate a terrific pre-owned piece, finish it the means you ‘d choose and still pay much less than if you ‘d bought something brand-new.

Measure your area before you purchase a furniture piece. Eyeballing just isn’t really good enough. When you have it provided, you might not be able to return it if it can not fit in the space. Measure the space initially.

Prior to purchasing any furniture piece with drawers and cabinets, open and close them and examine them out. Make the effort to open and close each and every drawer totally. In addition, you should likewise open and close cabinets. Make certain there isn’t anything loose or that sticks. Make sure the drawers open and close correctly. It is necessary for you to check the functionality of your furniture.

Try to buy furnishings around the month’s end. Numerous establishments order updated furnishings regular monthly and put the ceased lines on clearance sales. You can get a great deal if they are overstocked.

Do not feel as though you have to stick to the same style as the one you had 15 years earlier. Sure, your last living-room suite was cool and contemporary, but that does not suggest you need to continue with the trend. Rather, find other furniture that may better speak to you.

Consider your home’s design and decor when choosing furniture for it. Furnishings that clashes with your flooring and walls will not look great and you will not be pleased. If wanting to alter designs, think about altering flooring or your wallpaper. Decide of flooring and wallpaper or paint that match what kind of furnishings and style you’re trying to find.

You wish to ensure you have the highest quality furniture for your home. Use the info right here and you ought to get products that benefit your house. By utilizing these pointers, you can have an extraordinary shopping experience whenever you require brand-new furnishings.

Here’s a video that also shows you some of the things you can do when furnishing your home:

admin September 26, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink