Should I refurbish or demolish my ugly rear extension?
Property Clinic: Your property queries answered
Extension dilemma: would it be better to demolish it or get a new extension?
I live in a decent-sized Edwardian-era redbrick house near Dublin city centre. Unfortunately, there is an ugly 1970s-era extension to the rear of my house. It’s quite a useful space – it’s fully wired and plumbed etc, used mainly for laundry and some garden equipment storage. It also has a modern toilet and is finished to a high standard. It has a flat roof and is joined on to the original house very well. The join is very ugly, but it has never leaked.
This extension is apparently not the regulation height as per modern building codes, but my main consideration is just how ugly it looks from the garden, boxy and depressing somehow. Would I be best advised to demolish it and get a new extension? Or somehow improve the extension I have, but how? Could you give me an idea of costs? It’s about 15sq m, ie not overly large.
I am answering your query blind due as I am unable to see your current rear extension. However, from the information provided it appears to be of little use or benefit to your home and even detracts from your period home.
As with many homes that I inspect on a daily basis, they have been altered and adapted over the years as required by their occupiers and in a lot of cases very little thought went into the design of such extensions. These extensions were basically added to the property to fulfil a requirement – a rear utility room, a bath room, a dining room etc, and served their function quite well.
Many of the 1970’s-type extensions to houses that I come across were constructed within a budget and to the limited building standards that were in place back then. These extensions can look unsightly when compared with modern day structures.
Given that it is from the 1970s era, it is now circa 40 years old and this brings with it degradation of building materials (such as flat roof coverings and other elements being at their end of life). If you are happy to continue to patch your extension and undertake repairs as the need arises, then this could also be an option.
Your alternative suggestion is to demolish this rear extension and to construct a new modern 15sq m extension. Where you decide to rebuild, you may decide to increase the footprint to allow for additional living space.
It will be important that the extension is designed to be complementary to a period home. Any new extension will have to be constructed in compliance with current building regulations and therefore the quality of construction will be to a high standard. The next question to ask yourself is do you want to build a square box extension with a pitched roof, or are you looking for a more modern design, for example with trendy floor-to-ceiling glazing, glazed roof windows and this sort of thing. It will be important that the extension is designed to be complementary to a period home.
The costs of the extension will be dictated by how complex the structure is and its location. A basic budget cost estimate of €2,000 to €3,500 per metre squared for the rear extension should be allowed for a builder’s finish (internal finishes excluded – floor coverings, cabinetry, etc). Factors that will also influence cost will be the type of site you have, the type of ground conditions, are there drainage pipes or electric cables that may require relocating and are there any harmful materials on site, such as asbestos.
It will be helpful to initially visit period homes of a similar type that have added an extension or undertaken renovations in recent years. This will help guide your thought process in advance of engaging the services of a suitably qualified building professional (surveyor, architect etc). I assume your home is listed on the local authority’s Record of Protected Structures (or within an Architectural Area of Conservation – ACA) and it is likely that additional planning requirements will need to be satisfied before any works are undertaken.
Andrew O’Gorman is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie