So, you’ve taken the plunge and dedicated you want to add extra space to your property. You have the money saved up but the only problem is that you don’t know which option to choose! Do you go for a full extension to the back of your house or opt for a standalone garden room? In this article, I hopefully shine some light on this difficult choice and give a fair comparison for the garden room vs extension debate.
Understanding Garden Rooms
Think of a garden room as another usable space in your property – it’s just not connected to your house. Garden rooms are standalone and will usually sit on a concrete or timber base somewhere suitable in your garden. They are multipurpose, can be used year round, and have great longevity.
Garden rooms offer a separate space from your house and can serve as a haven or dedicated space for something like a home gym, an office, or an artist studio. The main difference is that they are not connected to your property so to access it you must walk outdoors.
Exploring House Extensions
Extensions are directly connected to your house. Typically an external door is turned into an internal door, or an entire external wall might be removed to make an open-plan extension area that connects seemingly to your existing home.
These structures essentially become part of your existing property and blend in by using the same brick types or rendering and extending the indoor space you have in your house.
How to Choose the Best Option for You
Unfortunately, it’s not a simple choice and there are a host of considerations to make including budget, design options, construction, and usability which I explain below.
Garden offices are typically made from a timber frame and may have external cladding plus internal insulation. They have great longevity and with external treatment can last for decades.
Extensions are considered to be more substantial as they typically involve a complete structure with brick walls, foundations, proper ceiling supports, etc.
Extensions are by far the most expensive option with an average cost of between £30,000-40,000 for a small house and £40,000 upwards for a medium house. This higher cost is due to the increased labour and build time.
In contrast, you shouldn’t need to pay anywhere near the lower end of an extension cost for an insulated garden room. Indeed, even with insulation and optional extras, you can get a premium garden room for £15,000 on average.
Both garden rooms and extensions have some brilliant design options. In terms of size, a garden room is limited to the available space in your garden. Similarly, an extension is limited to the size of the connecting wall of the house and available garden space.
Both structure types can be kitted out in numerous ways, decorated as you wish, and include windows and doors.
For construction time, the garden room is the easier, less disruptive option. Oftentimes, the garden room is transported and installed into your garden pre-built. This means that only the base needs to be constructed and then any electric work.
In contrast, extension construction can be a long and drawn-out process and cause a heap of disruption. It’s not uncommon for an extension to take 6-8 weeks to complete.
Permissions & Planning
In most instances, providing your garden room complies with the building regulations, it does not need planning permission. This includes its size, position from neighbours’ boundaries, and how much of your garden it takes up.
Extensions can be trickier and it is possible to get away without planning permission providing it’s constructed within your permitted development rights. However, in certain circumstances (such as if it’s a double-storey extension, or it takes up more than half of the original land around your house), planning permission is required.
Return on Investment
A garden room can provide an ROI of between 5-15% of your property value and for the relative cost, this makes it a brilliant long-term investment. Similarly, a single-level extension can add between 5-8% onto your property value and a double-level potentially up to 20% so both make great investments and should make a positive ROI.
Garden Room vs Extension: Consider the Factors to Make a Choice
The garden room vs extension debate is a tough one but there are clear winners depending on what you want. If you want a cheaper option that gives you less hassle and disruption while still giving amazing flexibility and usage space, the garden room is a brilliant choice.
In contrast, if you want a flowing space and to make an open-plan living area that is part of your property, an extension gives you more flexibility and scope to utilize the existing space in your property.