Extensions in Edinburgh, Lothians and Fife

It is said that for every person who self builds there are 15 that add extensions to their homes. The reasons for all this are easy to see. It often makes more economic sense to stay put and avoids the need to find a plot. It means we can stay in the same neighbourhood if we like it and that the children can remain at the same school.

This page covers common questions about extensions, such as:


  • How much does an extension cost?
  • Will I need planning permission for my extension?
  • How to design an extension


Why Should You Extend Your Home?

An overwhelming advantage of extending and not moving is the issue of stamp duty. It does not take a genius to work out that by the time you have calculated the agents fees for selling your house and the stamp duty on the one you are thinking of buying, you might well find you could build yourself quite a decent extension for the same price.

What do You Need to Consider Before Extending?

The trick is to extend and to come out well in the investment stakes, which means you have to put a lot of thought into even the smallest extension. For example, if you merely wish to extend the kitchen at the rear of your 1930s semi, should it be single storey or two? If it is the latter, what will go above it?

There are also practical issues to consider that are not directly concerned with the construction process. Access is a good example. If you add to your accommodation, will it mean more cars will need to be parked on the drive? If you have no drive then the lack of off-street parking might be a reason for the refusal of planning permission.

Similarly, if your house is in a terrace do you have rear access for the unloading of building materials or if not, will you have to bring everything from beams to blocks, and girders to guttering through the house?

Other important aspects to consider before you get to the stage of getting your plans drawn are matters like:

  • soil conditions on the site;
  • services;
  • surrounding trees;
  • any history of flooding;
  • rights of way.


How Much Does an Extension Cost?

There are many variables that will affect the cost of your extension such as soil type (which impacts the foundations); whether you are building a single or two storey extension; what the extension will be used for; and how much glazing you plan to specify.

Depending where you are in the UK, for a straightforward extension you should allow around £1,000–2,000/m². Remember that the standard of specification you choose will have an enormous influence on the build cost. Experienced renovator Michael Holmes, says a single storey extension will cost the following per/m².

  • Basic quality £1,000 to £1,680
  • Good quality £1,680 to £1,920
  • Excellent quality £1,920 to £2,160


A two storey extension will not cost much more per square metre because, aside from the extra interior fixtures and finishes, you are only adding walls and floor joists — a roof and foundations are required whether your extension is single or two storey.

Remember: Balance the amount you are willing to spend on your extension with the estimated value it will add to your home.


Will I Need Planning Permission for my Extension?

Planning consent may or may not be required for your proposed extension. Under the Permitted Development Rightssystem a large number of home extensions can be built without the requirement of planning permission.

  • You can extend a detached dwelling by 8m to the rear if it’s single storey or 3m if it’s double.
  • There are height restrictions. A single storey extension not being higher than 4m in height to the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension not being higher than the existing property.
  • Two storey extensions must not be closer than 7m to the rear boundary.
  • It must be built in the same or similar material to the existing dwelling.
  • Extensions must not go forward of the building line of the original dwelling.
  • Side extensions must be single storey, maximum height of 4m and a width no more than half of the original building.
  • In Designated Areas side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey.
  • An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered.
  • You can only do it once and the original building is either as it was on 1st July 1948 or when it was built. In Northern Ireland it is as it was built or as it was on 1st October 1973.


You should bear in mind that if your house is in a Conservation Area or a National Park, the amount of work one can do under Permitted Development is usually reduced.


Extensions in Edinburgh

Conversions in Edinburgh



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