Double Storey Extensions: The Comprehensive 2023 Guide
Electing to extend can be an excellent means of maximising the potential available space of your property, without the costly need to relocate. Generally double storey side and rear extensions are technically simple and are feasible in most detached and semi-detached houses.
Double storey extension vs single storey
A double storey extension is an even better investment when compared to a single storey. The excavation and the roofing costs won’t change from single to double storey extension. This makes the cost per square metre of a double storey extension much lower than the cost of a single storey.
How much does a double storey extension cost?
The cost of a double storey extension can vary depending on:
- site access
- soil composition
- size in square metres
- type and shape of the roof
- finishes like windows, rooflights, underfloor heating, flooring etc
Average cost of a 2 storey extension
The current average cost of a double storey extension varies with the location across the UK, going from £2,000 to £2,500 per sqm, excluding finishes.
In London the average cost excluding finishes is higher, with figures ranging from between £3,000 and £3,500 per square metre for the building cost. However, in London the added value of extra space is also far greater, with a minimum of £7,000 per sqm of increased value.
What fees can I expect to pay?
Beyond the construction cost, there are fees you need to consider and budget for when planning a double storey extension.
Double storey house extensions may, in some circumstances, proceed without planning permission.
In the case that you need planning permission, the cost for householder applications can vary from between £200-£400, depending on your local Council If your planning permission comes with planning conditions, you will pay £34 for their discharge.
If planning is not required because your 2 storey extension is built under permitted development, you may still want to get a Certificate of Lawfulness from your council (approx fees £100).
You can visit the official government page that explains planning related fees and the method of calculating them.
Architectural fees are usually between 3% and 7% of the construction cost but are typically higher in London, around 15%. For a double extension, you will need to produce at least a set of building regulation drawings, with design fees between £3,500 and £6,500. Planning drawings will be in a similar price range.
Furthermore, you will need to budget for structural calculation. The fee for the structural design can vary from £1,500 to £2,500 for a standard structural design.
Keep in mind that the design costs vary a lot, depending on the architects you appoint and the complexity of the design. Hiring a consultant, rather than directly appointing an architectural studio may save you money..
Another cost effective option is to hire a design and build company that will quote your double extension, including all the design fees. Some design and build companies may include planning fees in their quotes.
Party wall fees
If your extension includes building or excavating astride or close to a boundary, you will need a party wall agreement with your adjacent neighbours. The cost of a party wall agreement depends on whether your neighbours and you will want or need to appoint a party wall surveyor.
Typically party wall agreements will cost between £1,000 to £1,800 per neighbour.
Keep in mind that you can serve the notices yourself and won’t need to pay for a surveyor if your neighbour agrees on the proposed work and don’t seek to appoint a surveyor themselves.
If you prefer to appoint a party wall surveyor, you can visit RICS website.
Building control fees
You will need a building control certificate at completion, which certifies that all the work is in compliance of building regulations. The average cost for a double storey extension is £950, depending on the size and the nature of the works.
You can liaise directly with the local authority building control services or contact a government-approved inspection company.
For more information you can visit the official government pages on building regulations approval.
Other consultants’ fees
It is possible that you may need to appoint other consultants, according to the circumstances, for example:
- a survey of the existing building
- a tree report: if you need to move, remove or replace a tree
- flood risk assessment: if you are in an area where floods are possible
- ecology report: if the authorities think your construction work may affect the local wildlife
- archeological report: if your house is inside or close to an archeological area
- historic building report: if your house is a listed building or is located inside a conservation area
The cost may vary, depending on the agency or the consultants you will hire.
Cost of fitting out your double storey extension
Overall, the average building cost of a double storey extension varies across the UK, going from £2,000 to £3,500 per sqm.
The price of the fit out depends heavily on the usage you’re planning for your extension and the quality of the finishes you are choosing.
Make sure you understand the breakdown of the costs, so that you can invest your budget on your priorities.
Plastering plus painting costs can go between £40 and £60 per square metre, depending on the type of paint.
Supply and fit of the flooring depends on the cost of the flooring itself. As an average, it can go between £60 and £180 per square metre and more, if the flooring is very expensive.
The cost of the heating is very variable, with underfloor heating being the most expensive option, which can go from £80 to £150 per square metre, including the materials.
You might need to change your boiler to accommodate the additional needs for a bigger area. It may cost from £2,500 to £4,000.
The supply and fit of a kitchen can rise steeply in price, depending on the kitchen and fittings you choose. The minimum budget should be at least £5,000, with a good size and quality kitchen to be between £15,000 to £25,000, including the plumbing.
The cost of bifold or sliding doors will depend on the size of the opening and the chosen product. The price can vary between £1,800 and £3,200 per linear metre.
For bathrooms or wet-rooms, you will need to budget for at least £5,000. The cost can rise considerably , based on the quality of the finishings like sanitary ware, shower screens and trays, taps, tiles etc.
Will a double storey extension add value to my home?
In the short term the build costs may, in some locations and properties, minimise the immediate added value. However, given both the improvement in scope and size to the property, the alterations can still work out cheaper than the cost of purchasing and subsequent move to a larger house.
If you are planning to sell and your house is not in excellent condition, a prior renovation can increase your asking price. At this point you can include a double storey extension, as the cumulative price will be lower than doing the renovation and the extension at separate times.
In general, double storey extensions are the cheapest extensions per square metre. In London, for example, they usually cost between £1,800 and £2,800, while the property price per square metre in the cheaper London boroughs would be around £4,000 per square metre.
Planning and regulations for a double storey extension
It is possible that a double extension falls under permitted development rights.
Do I need planning permission for a double storey extension?
Although the options for a double storey extension are more limited than a single one, planning permission is not always needed.
Permitted development rights
To build a double house extension you will need to stay within the constraints below:
- Area: the area of extensions must be less than 50% of the total free area around the house
- Appearance: the exterior appearance must blend in with the existing house and the neighbourhood
- Width: the width must be less than 50% of the width of the existing house
- Length: the max length of rear extensions is 3m for terraced or semi-detached houses, up to 4m for detached houses
- Height: for 2 storey extensions, the height must not exceed the height of the existing house eaves. Only single-storey extensions are allowed under permitted development, if the distance to the boundary is less than 2m,
- Balconies and terraces: they are never allowed within permitted development rights
Rules for permitted development are stricter in designated areas.
Certificate of lawful development
Even if you don’t need planning, it’s good to obtain a certificate of lawful development from your council, after the completion of the work. This will certify that you built within the constraints of permitted development.
The council fee for the certificate of lawful development is £103.
Applying for planning permission
If your extensions cannot be built under permitted development rights, you will need to file for a planning permission.
Depending on the complexity of the proposed work, the process might also include pre-planning.
Appointing an architect is one option, which is cheaper with a freelancer. Another way is hiring a design and build company, which is often the most cost effective approach.
Does a two storey extension need to comply with building regulations?
All building work needs to comply with building regulations. Professional building companies engage with the local building control officers or with a certified private agency during the project. At completion, they’ll provide you with a building regulation certificate.
Do I need a party wall agreement for a 2 storey extension?
You need a party wall agreement if you are building or altering a wall that sits astride a boundary with an adjacent property.
When excavating the foundations for your double storey extension, a party wall agreement is needed when you are building the foundations up to 6m away from the boundary, depending on the depth of the foundations.
How big can my double storey extension be?
Planning rules include limitations on how big a double storey extension can be.
The height of a 2 storey extension must not exceed the existing roof eaves.
If the resulting ceilings are too low, there are possible solutions, like excavating a few centimeters at the ground floor. Leaving exposed joists at the upper floor is a good option to give a feeling of space and air, even when the actual height is lower than ideal.
Planning rules limit how far a two storey extension can project. If your neighbours have window openings towards the proposed extension, there are limitations to prevent a loss of light to the neighbours. The extension must project no further back than a line set at 45 degrees horizontally from the centre of neighbouring windows.
How long does a two storey extension take?
The time it takes to complete a two storey extension can vary a lot. External factors are especially difficult to estimate, like planning and party wall agreements.
It is possible, though, to evaluate average times for each preparation phase. The duration of the construction, on the other hand, is easier to estimate.
- Design: 8 weeks
- Planning: 8 weeks to 3 months for a successful planning process
- Party wall agreements: from 2 weeks to months, depending on how difficult the negotiation
- Technical drawings, building regs, structural design: 4 to 8 weeks
As an average, the construction of a double storey extension takes 14 to 16 weeks, depending on the size. This might sound a lot, but it is important to give each phase the appropriate duration for the best results:
- Excavation and foundations: 1 to 3 weeks
- Structural beams and columns: 1 week approx
- External walls: 2 weeks approx
- Ground floor slab and 2nd storey suspended timber floor: 1 week approx
- Roof: 2 weeks approx
- Dry lining and plastering: 2 weeks approx
- Electrics and plumbing: 1 week approx
- Decoration and painting: 1 week approx
- Flooring, skirtings, windows, doors and other joinery: 2 weeks approx
Types of double storey extensions
According to the relative position to the existing building, there are different types of double storey extensions
Two storey rear extension
It’s an extension at the back of a house, often in the garden. It’s a good option for detached and semi-detached houses. A terraced house extension at the rear of a property is also sometimes feasible.
Two storey side return extension
It uses the narrow space at the side of a house, without using up garden space. It’s a great option for a ground floor extension, to implement a change of character on a ground floor without compromising the back garden area. This is an option for a semi-detached or detached house extension. Keep in mind that neighbouring properties with overlooking windows might limit this option
Two storey wrap around extension
It’s the combination of rear house extension and side extension. It can be a very big addition in size to the existing house. It’s feasible for a semi-detached or detached house extension.
This is the optimal solution to maximise the added space to the existing property.
Two storey front extension
This is the least common type of 2 storey extension. Extending at the front has the biggest impact on the appearance of your house. In all councils this means stricter rules to what alterations can be made.
It can still be feasible, especially for detached houses with a large front garden.
What direction should I extend?
There isn’t one right answer to this question, Usually the easiest option is extending to the rear, if the garden is big enough. Side extensions can be a great option, when there are no windows from the neighbours’ side.
If your neighbour wants to do a side extension as well, you might consider the option of filing a planning application together, to use up all the space between the two buildings.
Having a good architect on your side will help you understand all the options and make the best decisions on the direction of your 2 storey extension.
Designing a double storey extension
Doing a 2 storey extension is not only about space. The way you design the space must meet your priorities.
Interior layout of your double storey extension
Depending on whether you are building a kitchen, a bedroom, a shower room, a playroom, the requirements will be different, and small details can make a huge difference as well.
Given the financial outlay and potential disruption such projects can cause, it is always wise to hire professional designers and a building company to ensure the smoothest possible outcome.
Building a double storey extension is an opportunity to improve the layout of the existing spaces. If you are planning a kitchen extension, you might create an open-plan living room or a larger dining space to entertain family and friends.
An extension is also a good opportunity to make space for a utility or a laundry room in addition to the enlarged rooms. Avoid wasting space in hallways and corridors.
A smart placement of the columns will be very important in ensuring uninterrupted open plan space.
What would you like to achieve with your new space upstairs?
If you are building a new bedroom, for example, the height of the ceiling may not be as important as in the living room. Make it an ensuite, if possible, as ensuite bedrooms are an added value to a property.
Remember there are building regulations on the size of staircases, landings, corridors etc. Make sure you seek advice from a professional for the layout design, to avoid issues that may become evident towards the end of the project, when they are costly to resolve.
Exterior materials of your double storey extension
Choosing matching materials for the exterior is the easiest option, especially for the planning. When it is not possible, one good option is to design in contrast with the existing building.
All glazed or naked concrete extensions can result in a stunning contrast for period properties.
Having a good architect or designer on your side means you will be able to understand all the options and choose the best for you: the right creative design can completely transform a property.
Doors and windows of your double storey extension
The positioning of doors and windows is very important for a double storey extension, as it often requires the loss of the existing openings.
The windows should either match the existing or be chosen in contrast.
Bi-folding or sliding doors, roof lights, glazed walls and structural glass are all options that a good architect will help you evaluate to get the best for your priorities.
The roof of your double storey extension
The design of the roof of a 2 storey extension will be subject to planning requirements, but there are still options to make the best choices.
If there are properties around you that will overlook the roof of your extension, a green roof could be a great option to get through the planning.
If the roof surface is not visible from the ground floor level, you can choose a flat roof, making sure that the visible parts still blend in with the existing building.
The indoor-outdoor link
Doing a two storey extension is also an opportunity to get more daylight in and to create a link between inside and out. This will enhance the sense of being immersed within your garden, even if the weather does not permit.
Bi-folding or sliding doors to the garden are a great way to achieve that. Glazed walls and structural glass are all options that a good architect will help you evaluate to get the best for your priorities.
Get in touch with us for a chat, a free site visit or a free quotation from our specialists in double storey extensions. We can help with rear and side 2 storey extensions for terraced, semi-detached and detached houses.
Vinz is the CEO and co-founder of houseUP. He is a true authority in financial planning and risk management, coming from years of working in financial services and digital payment industries