AdviceExtensionsGuest postsKitchens

Kitchen extensions and side returns – guest post by Phil Spencer

I am a huge fan of kitchen extensions with side returns, they really open up a space and create that live-in kitchen that modern families are craving. This is one of the projects that I have done at my own home: I’ve extended out the back of the property into the garden to create a large open-plan living space, with defined areas for relaxing, cooking and eating. Kitchens really do sell houses and a well designed extension that makes the most of the existing space, the area to the back and the under-utilised areas to the sides of a house, can have a really impressive result.

White modern kitchen extension

Image source: Pinterest

Kitchen extensions

It’s important to get extensions right or they can end up looking like a box attached to your existing kitchen. Planning their layout and is important, not only aesthetically but also in terms of space. With a good extension the original kitchen and the new area should blend seamlessly. A badly planned kitchen will waste precious space that you have paid to add. It’s an area that really benefits from a lot of glazing and if you’re going to extend your property, you’ll need to consider lighting carefully. I have large sky lights in my extension that fill the space with natural light — without them the room would feel too dark. It’s important that any glazed areas comply with building regulations and although expensive, I would recommend using as much glazing as possible even though they are not the most energy efficient option.


Really popular now are fully glazed sliding door walls. These not only allow a lot of light into the room they also allow your garden to become an extension of your home — even when the weather doesn’t permit you to open them!


Image source: House to Home

Side return extensions

You might not think it worth extending a measly few feet either side of your property, but it’s the fact that this subsequently enables much improved ‘use of space’ to the remainder of the room —  you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make. A few extra feet width to a room really opens up the space and can make what was an average size room look a lot bigger. Side returns on their own might not be worthwhile, team them with a single-storey extension however and the additional cost is minimal. One of the main advantages of extending in to the passages/spaces between terraced houses is that these are areas of wasted space, so extending into them certainly won’t feel like it’s compromising your outside space.

side return kitchen extension

Image source: Real Homes

If you are considering extending your kitchen/living space I would certainly recommend a single-storey extension, extending into the side returns where possible. Team it with lots of glazing and you’ll have a space that not only provides you with a modern family living space, but an improvement that could dramatically increase your home’s re-sale value.



Phil Spencer’s renovation checklist



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Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer doesn’t need much of an introduction, he’s TV’s most well-known property presenter, having co-presented Location, Location, Location and Relocation, Relocation for over 10 years. Phil'ls blog posts focus on adding value and advice/ tips for when you're buying or selling your house.

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    1. am considering widening my kitchen (approx 5ft) as per image, am concerned about expense of glazing.

  1. Looks nice, but in the increasingly cold Brit winters, it’s going to take a lot of heating to keep warm. Also where glass roof slopes up to join wall – difficult to keep that seal watertight with all the rain and winds UK will be getting.

  2. Great article! When designing a kitchen it important to make sure that everything will function perfectly as well as making it aesthetically pleasing. I agree with your take on side returns, they all look fantastic and definitely make the most of unused space!

  3. I think side return are brilliant and totally worth the money -we used Open Space London and they are brilliant. And to anyone thinking about underfloor heating, just do it, way better

  4. The answer for those asking how much they cost is “more than you might think” in London at least. I just had an architect and engineer plan a side return and end extension for our Victorian terrace. We then got eleven quotes from building contractors. The average was £90,000 including VAT – way beyond budget. We then down sized plans to a standard side return extension – the average is coming in at about £67,500. That’s the cost exclusive of actual kitchen, appliances, flooring etc.

    As a tip for those who live in terraces with limited access – get a thorough feasibility check done with a reputable building contractor before you commit any money on architects or engineers. Otherwise you can pay out a small fortune on fees, planning applications, remortgaging etc only to find out down the line that you can’t afford your project.

      1. um for those people paying upwards of £30,000 for a side return, I’m honestly shocked.

        You’re looking at about £100/SF for a very high end finish and about £70/SF for a standard finish. Most side returns are about 5mx5m so around 270 square feet. You shouldn’t be paying a penny more than £27,000. Anything above is 100% profit to the contractor and you’re basically being jipped.

        Can’t believe how unscrupulous most builders are in this country. I would never charge that kind of money for something as simple as this – frankly it’s almost criminal!

        1. Hi Bobo. That is very interesting to know you think it should cost c£27,000. I guess on top of this you have to factor in the architect’s fees, planning permission, plus a new kitchen and floor, but i take your point. Can you reply with your trading name or a link so we can find you on rated people? I would be interested in using your services if you have good experience and a portfolio to show me of side returns you have done.
          many thanks.

        2. Having just started work on a side return, £30k is way off the mark for something high end.
          To put it into perspective, I found out who installed the glass roof and pivot door on the scheme pictured at the bottom of this article and the glass alone (roof, door and bay window, not pictured) alone cost £35k excluding VAT.
          Add in a “very high end” kitchen from, for example Balthaup, for another £35k + VAT and the true cost is more than double your estimate before even talk to a architect, builder, structural engineer, party wall surveyor etc etc
          The true cost of a “very high end” side return extension as pictured will be at least £100k.

    1. Hi Andy, we don’t have specific info on that I’m afraid but if you click through to the image sources, you should be able to trace it back.

  5. Further to the costs enquired, this will vary dependant on specification and the builder you use, we tend to be a little more expensive as we charge for project management and design adjustment through the project.

    However, this is a good investment given the project ends on time and on budget and most of the unforeseen’s can be designed out prior to commencement of work.

    Andy Brackstone

  6. Side return with a good underfloor heating is totally worth the money. Any project that adds square footage is likely to add value to the property.

  7. Great post! Thanks for sharing this informative blog with us, It’s really interesting. We are also providing affordable House extensions in the UK. So keep posting…

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