ARTICLE

Beginner's guide to glass extensions

More and more homeowners are extending their kitchen to gain much-needed space and light. Traditional bricks and mortar extensions and traditional conservatories are making way for a sleek glass extension to the back of the house. But how easy - and affordable - is it to get that 'designer' look? Ask yourself these questions...

Will a glass extension suit my lifestyle?
First of all, be realistic. A futuristic-looking glass structure straight out of Grand Designs will give your home extra light and space as well as an undeniable wow factor, but you will be exposed to onlookers. If you’re overlooked, lack of privacy could be a something to consider. Also think carefully about how you will cool the room. In summer, a glass cube can get very hot. A part-glazed structure might be a more practical option.

What glass options are available?
Depending on your budget, there are many ways you can introduce glass into your kitchen. Advances in glazing technology have resulted in larger, stronger panes so that whole sections of ceiling can now be replaced with glass. Adding skylights (windows in the roof) is a relatively cost-effective way of introducing light into an extension. Vale Garden Houses offer some good options.

What about glass sliding doors?
You can swap ordinary French patio doors for the latest concertina-style glass doors along the width of one wall. Typically, a set of seven glazed panels across an 18ft opening will cost around £8,000, but this can really bring the outside into your home as well as providing extra ventilation on hot days. Sunfold has a good selection.

Can I create a glass side return?
If you have a Victorian terraced house, you can certainly turn the wasted space at the side of the house into a side return extension with glazed panels in the roof. This way you won’t have to sacrifice any of the garden, but you will have to make sure you don't contravene any conservation regulations.

What options are available for garden rooms?
All extensions will involve a degree of upheaval and mess. But if the thought of having builders in for months fills you with horror, how about a hassle-free readymade extension? These designs can be supplied in brick and glass or entirely glazed, and are delivered in kit form and assembled at the back of your house for you. The beauty of prefabs is that, although foundations will still have to be dug, your new extension can be ready in days and weeks rather than months. For a readymade solution, Glassbox glazed structures start from £24,500.

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Who should I get to build my glass extension?
Don’t be tempted to cut costs by employing your friendly local builder who may not have any experience with glazed structures. Constructing a glass extension is a specialised job, so be sure to bring in an expert glazing company. Contact The Glass & Glazing Federation to find a specialist in your area.

Will I need planning permission?
Not for smaller projects as they fall within your existing permitted development rights but you may need permission for larger jobs. Find out whether you need planning persmission at the Government's Planning Portal.

How can an architect help?
Good architects are worth their weight in gold, but many will want to take control of the whole project. If you just want ideas and advice, Architect Your Home offers an initial four hour consultation (including drawings) with one of their RIBA-qualified architects for £599 plus vat.

Expert advice on glass extensions:
'Think carefully about where to position a roof light in a kitchen extension. Above the cooking or dining area is usually good.' Jane Hindmarch, Vale Garden Houses.

'Frameless glass box structures can be pricey, but it's worth investing in top quality glass with high performance coatings, otherwise the room can get unbearably hot.' Vanessa Tarrier, Cantifix.

'Call your local planning department to find out if your property is a listed building, in a conservation area, or and area of outstanding natural beauty. The constraints of your building will have an impact on what is achievable.'
Hugo Tugman, Architect Your Home.