Moving and Packing Tips

What is better – to extend your house or move in 2023?

Baby on the way? Or maybe, your elderly dad is about to move in with you? There could be various reasons for you to need a bigger place to accommodate your new living space needs. And we all know that when it comes to the above, there are two ways of resolving that crowdy feeling at home.

Extend or move.

So, with this post, we’ll try to look in more detail whether it’s better to sell up and move to a new larger house or go down the path of building an extension. We’ll explore the challenges of extending in the UK, especially if you live in a city like London, we’ll look at the current housing market trends and see if either option can be a feasible solution to your dilemma.

Right then, if you:

  • wonder about whether to put your property on the market, so you can relocate to a bigger place;
  • are considering to extend your property and wish to know what your options are;
  • you want to improve your life-work balance, post lockdown, through enhancing your living space but can’t decide how;

You better read on.

Table of Contents:

The pros and cons of building an extension

Extending your house could be an affordable way to add more space to your property. And with the new changes in planning legislation and specifically in the Permitted Development regulations since last year, you may be able to build, say, a large rear extension, providing you’ve got the space. And that’s not all, you can now exercise your Permitted Development Rights and not actually have the need to apply for planning permission, in order to commence your building or renovation project.

On the other hand, any type of building work can turn into a little nightmare, where the result is not exactly what you’ve expected. So, let’s have a look now at the pros and cons of extending your property.

Advantages of extending

For starters, more often than not, building an extension is more affordable than moving houses, which will involve selling up, placing a deposit on your new house, paying Stamp Duty in certain circumstances, and last but not least, allocating funds for the actual removal process. Add the fact that you could be buying possibly a more expensive property than your old one and you get the picture.

  • Cost-effective option – The cost per sq. m. for a quality extension at the moment can be anything from £1,500 and £2,500, depending on whether you go for a single-storey or two-storey addition to your property. Of course, you’ve got some other expenditures, too, such as the architect’s fee (could reach £4,000), as well as the fees for a property survey, planning permission (if you need one), building regulation checks, etc. Many folks will remortgage their house, in order to achieve their dream of adding an extension. As you’ll see further down, the cost of relocating from your legally owned property to a new one can be far higher than if you were extending.
  • Permitted development – Whether you are building a porch in your front garden (extension under Class D), or you’ve opted for a kitchen extension at the rear of your property (class A), you can achieve this without planning permission, providing your house is not located, say, in a Conservation Area, for instance.
  • Increased property value – This can apply especially if you live in a crowded city, where small properties with an added extension become attractive to potential buyers in an instance. There are also always some real estate investors on the lookout of getting the most out of their investment when it comes to turning the newly-purchased property into a long-term or short-term rental.
  • Adding more space without relocating – This is no brainer. Who wouldn’t want to have extra living space minus the long and stressful process of selling, buying and moving?
  • No need to make significant changes to your life – Unless this is what you’re actually after. But if you’re happy with where you are, then extending will save you from having to change schools for your kids, change jobs or adding daily travel time if you’re moving further from your workplace. Let’s not forget the possibility of parting with family and friends if your new home is going to be some significant distance away.

Drawbacks of extending

There are, of course, two sides of the same coin with everything and going down the road of extending your home is no exception. Here are some of the challenges you may get confronted with.

  • Planning permission – Well, if it happens that your permitted development rights are restricted for whatever reason, then you’ll need to apply for planning permission to improve your living conditions and get that extra space for your family. Not only can the process of approval take up to 13 weeks, but the stress of dealing with paperwork and various planning and building regulation authorities can get to you to the extent of regretting your decision of extending in the first place.
  • Overestimated hopes for adding value to your property – Yep, you can spend heaps of money on extending your property, remortgage your house and so on, and still add nothing to its value, just because of “location, location, location” or due to an unexpected bottom-out in the housing market, as we see this happening right now.
  • Troubles with stubborn neighbours – Under the permitted development scheme, you will need to inform your neighbours of your extension plans, in most cases. They can come up with objections, although your local planning authorities will have the final say. Still, your neighbours can easily protract consciously or inadvertently your building project, so keep this in mind.
  • Rogue builders – Of course, we are not saying that any building regulations and safety aspects will be compromised during the construction and extension process but you can still end up with a somewhat sub-standard addition to your property as an end result.
  • Coping with a building site of a house for months – Well, even if you prepare for this mentally, there is nothing like going through it for real. Imagine, building materials everywhere, noise and dust, strangers in your house – and all this, while trying to run a home, take care of the kids, work and so on.
  • Unforeseen costs – These can arise naturally during the building process, regardless of the fact that you’ve been given a quote for the work and the materials. And that’s not all. You may feel like moving your brood, say, in an Airbnb flat for a few days as the construction work has become unbearable for you all.

Types of house extensions

Depending on what type of property you have and the size of your outdoor space, as well as on quite a few other factors (location, local building restrictions and so on), you could go for one or more types of extensions that we list below.

Side extension.
Detached and semi-detached houses can be extended sideways, especially if you consider that the space on the left or right of your property is rarely utilised properly. Get inspiration from house owners in your area if they’ve gone down this path! Remember, however, that side extensions require planning permission, so check with your local council what you need to get a permit.

Rear extension.
As mentioned earlier, rear extensions can usually go ahead under the new rules of the permitted development scheme. As long as you have a decent-sized backyard, you can add to your living space by building an extension at the rear of your home.

Quite often, kitchens face the back garden, so you can turn the heart of your home into a nice open-space dining room with a modern kitchenette. Add some gorgeous French windows and you’ll end up instantly with a light and spacious room for the whole family to gather.

Front extension.
Front extensions are also possible through building a porch. Usually, you don’t need to apply for a permit with your local planning authorities. Additional storage space if you have a tiny entry hall, not only gives you more space to hang coats and store shoes but it can also improve the insulation of your home, as well as enhance its security.

Roof extension.
If your budget allows it, you can build a second floor, once you go through the challenging process of getting planning permission. “Shop around” for a good architect, though, as a two-storey extension is not that straightforward.

Depending on the initial design and structure of your property, you can even incorporate a roof garden or terrace and achieve a better functionality of the available space, this exterior feature of your home can offer.

Conservatories are a rather easy-to-install and affordable extension option and many folks in the UK take advantage of increasing their living space this way. The glass structure improves insulation, as well as it can give you the opportunity to enjoy your garden view no matter the weather.

Not many properties have a high ceiling but if you’re lucky enough to live in a Victorian or Edwardian house with a ceiling that is over 3,5 -4m in height, then you can add to your living space by building a mezzanine level, say, in your living room. This can be turned into a bedroom, a home office space or workshop area.

As a mezzanine would be in effect an internal modification to your home, you won’t face heavy regulations, in terms of the ‘go-ahead’ with the construction process, providing the property is not classed as a listed building.

Ceiling extension.
By removing ceilings, you can utilise the loft space to either open up the room and allow more light through installing a skylight, for instance, or say, to create additional storage space. With this sort of interior alteration, most likely, you won’t need to apply for a permit with your local council, unless your property falls under some kind of restrictions.

The benefits and drawbacks of moving house

Moving to a bigger house can be also a viable option of gaining more living space, of course. And depending on where you intend to relocate and your personal situation, it could be actually more cost-effective for you than trying to build an extension.

Post-lockdown in the UK, we actually see a surge in people looking to sell up and move, in the hope of improving their quality of life, escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city and expand their interior living space and recreational outdoors.

The pros of relocating

The advantages of moving to a bigger house are dictated, in a way, by the global health crisis, we’ve been all living through for months. And although the housing market is heading for uncertainty, for some sellers and buyers, there could be a window of opportunity to make that important move smooth with a bit of luck.

For instance, you can leave the overcrowded capital city and move to picturesque Canterbury, which is not only still close by if you need to commute but also the larger properties there are much more affordable in comparison. You can get a 3-bedroom semi-detached house for under £300,000 in the cathedral city, whereas an average asking price for a similar property in London is around £630,000.

  • Financially more viable – This is of course very subjective and it will depend on your individual property situation. An extension can easily burn a hole in your pocket or tie you to some stressful monthly payments if you remortgage your house. In contrast, if you move to a cheaper location, this can actually prove more cost-effective for you or even help you make a profit. Also, first-time buyers (say, your son is ready to leave the nest) are often eligible for first-buyer relief.
  • No stressful building work – We doubt very much that turning your place into a building site for months is your dream idea of how to expand your living space. On that note, if you play your cards right, do your research and choose your new home and location wisely, you can sell, buy and move into the ideal property and this way, avoid the experience of dealing with builders and renovators.
  • Enhancing lifestyle – There have been quite a few relocation hotspots registered recently in the country, with regards to the increased interest of homeowners who want to improve their quality of life. By moving, post lockdown, to a nice suburb or town with cheaper properties, say, near London, folks aim to get that peace and quiet, as well as provide a safer environment for their children. After all, we all got used to the new normal of working from home, (if the job allows it), so why not enjoy a better work-life balance in a bigger house with a larger garden further away from the city?

The disadvantages of moving

The biggest drawback of moving is mainly related to cost and time. Again, this is strictly individual, so we cannot generalise too much here. In short, you may have to budget for a housing deposit (if you’re buying a more expensive property), survey fees, conveyancing fees, (in some cases, pay stamp duty), estate agent fees and removals expenses.

Timewise, especially if you’re selling up first, the process of going through viewings, signing up a deal, buying and moving may take a while. In other words, you’ll need to plan well, pick a good estate agent and hope for the best. Here are a few more disadvantages of making such a big step in your life.

  • Parting with friends and extended family – This will, of course, apply if you move further away and across counties to start a new life with your family. Plenty of Londoners are looking into moving to Cornwall or Devon, by the sea, these days, which will be a significant change for you if you’re considering making a similar decision.
  • Allowing time for packing and moving – Packing your possessions and moving can also add to the stress. So, it’s best to organise your relocation well in advance, take the advice of professionals on how to pack your kitchen appliances, furniture and personal belongings, as well as do your homework when picking a reputable removals company to help you in the process.
  • The risk of not adapting well and missing your “old life” – Yes, there’s no way of knowing how well you and your family will adjust to your new life in a location that you’re not so familiar with. Imagine, your children having to deal with adapting to their new school, the strange neighbours you’ll have to get used to, the lack of certain shops or takeaways that you’ve been going for years and now miss… Our best advice is to learn to embrace the positive and see the move as a new adventure.
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  • Extending your home to increase your living space is a feasible option if you’ve got the space outdoors or indoors and your property is not under some specific building restrictions.
  • Building an extension has its drawbacks, such as dealing with local planning authorities, so think twice if this is the path for you!
  • Moving to a new house has its advantages and disadvantages, too, depending on your individual situation.
  • Always choose a trusted building company to complete your house extension project!
  • Shop around and hire reputable removals specialists who can meet every aspect of your relocation!


Did you find this article helpful? Are you confronted with the dilemma of moving or extending? Please, tell us more in the comments below!

Image source: Shutterstock/Paul Maguire

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