Please help me decide whether to extend or not! I really need some ideas and opinions.

(13 Posts)
Splandy Thu 17-Nov-16 19:22:25

Apologies for length, I really need some opinions. I posted something on houzz not long ago but only received replies from pros looking for work and I am not at that stage yet. Our house has a very badly built lean-to utility room which runs the length of the house alongside the kitchen. It is made up of a few different original sheds and toilets that were attached to the house, with some bricks in the middle to join it all together. It is a waste of space as the door to access it is at one end of the kitchen and it's so narrow that things can only be put at the other end, so is essentially a long corridor leading to a few things. It has very dodgy electrics and water comes in under the door/around windows. It houses our boiler, a chest freezer, washing machine and has a sink unit and a bit of worktop hanging off the wall!

My initial idea was to extend the kitchen out entirely, incorporating both the lean-to and passage running alongside it, to make it around 6m by 6m and have a proper utility room and downstairs loo within this space. The kitchen desperately needs ripping out. It's also dark, despite being south facing, because it has very narrow sliding doors with a conservatory on one side and a brick shed on the other, casting shade. We would knock the shed down and put in much bigger doors for more light. I think this will cost roughly 40 grand. There are a few complications, our boiler having to be moved, soil pipes from bathroom running down that wall and the whole thing sitting on concrete, which I guess would need to be removed first. On consideration, I think it could easily become more than 40 grand. This would take up all of our savings and require us taking out a mortgage. We currently own the house outright.

(I have a little sketch of our current kitchen and proposed space if anybody is interested - will upload in a bit. Can also upload a little drawing of our lean-to/collection of outbuildings to make it clearer)

The issue is that it is a lot of money. We live on a council estate with a bit of a reputation, though we like living here and have never had any problems. It has improved over the years and continues to improve with new housing being built within the estate. Our house is currently worth about 115, which is cheap compared to other houses of this size in the local area. The most houses on our estate have gone for recently is about 130, though they hadn't been extended or done as nicely as we would do ours. I did see that a house a few streets away recently went for 140, though I don't understand why because it needed modernisation. We wouldn't be adding 40 grand of value to our house.

One other option is to stick with the kitchen as it is, move the door for accessing the lean-to into the middle of the wall and try to make a useable space in what is still an outdoor room. I want a downstairs toilet and guess that without it being properly built as part of the house, it will be cold and damp. The kitchen is currently quite narrow, only 3m, and has a chimney breast, so placing a table is different. My piano also has to live in this room. This option doesn't really help with the light, though I think we could still get a wider set of sliding doors in. This would obviously be cheaper and enable us to get other work done more quickly. The windows at the front of the house need replacing, we need a new driveway and porch, new patio and various other things.

Another option is to only extend halfway, so incorporating just the current lean-to into the space and not the side passage that runs alongside it. This would again be cheaper, but not sure whether it's worth the cost and upheaval to only gain an extra 1.5 metres on the side, which we'd still need to fit a utility and toilet into.

I can draw a little picture of the different options if it helps clarify things for anybody. I would be so grateful for some different opinions and ideas. I had my heart set on the full extension originally, but can see the appeal of not spending so much on it. Over the past couple of days I came round to the idea of not extending at all, but trying to fix the lean-to. Now I'm chagimg my mind again! I'm going to see a neighbour's house this weekend. They haven't extended and have a toilet in the lean-to, which they use as a utility room. It has been properly built and rendered. Will see how I feel about their layout. What would you do in my situation?

FlouncingInAWinterWonderland Thu 17-Nov-16 19:57:22

Can you list all the things that you want to achieve, then prioritise them and look at the options.

You sound like you want more space for a table, a downstairs toilet, utility space, a new drive, new porch.....

Remove the how, initially, and just think about the what.

Splandy Thu 17-Nov-16 20:39:43

Thanks for the reply. It does all need to be done at some point. All work they did was done by themselves and badly bodged. Porch is leaking and for some reason the front part is fitted backwards. The door opens into it so you have to step in and out to open it. The driveway has steps coming down to the front door which are all different heights, including one just the height of a slab right outside the front door, which our guests often trip over. The bricks holding up the steps are crumbling away and I don't know when the slabs on the steps are going to become unstable. It is big enough to take three cars but we can't use it due to the design.

I think they can be left for a little while, but not sure how long exactly. Doing the full extension won't mean that they can never be achieved, but will take a fair while longer. The kitchen and utility area are my main concern. Shocking layout, cupboards all expanded inside and musty smelling, bits of things glued onto other things and so few plug sockets that we have an extension lead going over the worktop to be able to use the fridge. All bodged! I explained how bad the utility room is in my first post - there is even an open drain in there which she used to keep a stick in... Luckily, just my bath and sink pipe, not the toilet one. But it isn't great. There is no point in doing the kitchen now and later deciding that we must sort out the utility room which will mess up what we've already done. Would definitely like a downstairs toilet. My husband seems to spend a ridiculous amount of time on the toilet so there are regularly tears and queues forming!

We do have a table in our kitchen now but it's awkwardly laid out. It's in the only place it could go and small, so we can't have other people over. Our kitchen should be big enough for a bigger dining table but the layout is wrong.

Splandy Thu 17-Nov-16 20:44:13

By 'she', I meant the previous owner! Sorry if that wasn't clear. There have been many mutterings about the bodging as we've done things on the house. A memorable one was realising we had to fit pieces of skirting back in because they'd taken out chunks, glued layers of carpet in to the same depth and glossed over it!

OnePlanOnHouzz Fri 18-Nov-16 07:13:55

I'd be interested to see the sketches you mentioned ! Just weigh up the pros of spend money to get it to work well for you versus the amount of years you intend to live there - then it will be clearer if it's worth investing in or not ! As living with it how you want it for the next 15 years is well worth an investment - but if you plan to move in in 3-5 years - maybe not ?!?

downwardfacingdog Sat 19-Nov-16 20:29:41

It sounds like you might be over-investing in the house? Would you be better off taking out the small mortgage to move to a house that already has the space you need?

namechangedtoday15 Sat 19-Nov-16 21:00:11

Do you have children? Are you planning on staying there for the foreseeable future? I think issues (such as the drains) will need fixing if you decide to move on anyway?

If you're staying for a long time and can afford it, I would be tempted to get the full extension done to make it a house that works for you.

Splandy Sun 20-Nov-16 12:36:18

Thanks for the replies - I know it's all a bit long and boring.

OnePlan, you were one of the few that replied to me on houzz, so you have already seen these drawings! You told me to have a look through your portfolio to get ideas, and I did do that but I'm quite clueless and still didn't manage to make any decisions. I was thinking of hiring your company to draw up plans, but didn't know whether you would do that since it involves an extension, or whether I would need an architect to do the whole thing. I have been out and measured and the current utility area is only 1.2 metres wide. If we extended out to that wall, and had it properly built but at the same width, do you think it would be possible to get a washing machine/tumble dryer and cupboards along one wall for maximum storage? Or is the space just too small? I'd consider slimmer cupboards etc if it meant that we got the most of the space. If we can keep as much of the external wall as possible, we won't need such a large steel, which would obviously keep costs down but would give us a very narrow room.

My main concern isn't really the size of the kitchen. I think that with a better design, the kitchen would be fine. We can also fit a dining table. I really want to solve the problem of the lean-to to get a better utility area, a downstairs toilet and to make the kitchen brighter. If we could just extend to where the lean-to currently ends and still get what we want, it would be much better because we wouldn't be spending too much for the house.

I had a look at my neighbour's utility area and it wasn't too great. They didn't have it built as a proper extension, so they've kept the flat roof and the single brick shed walls that were already there for part of it. The floor was raised to the level of the house and an internal door separates it from the kitchen. There is mould all over the toilet walls, presumably because it hasn't been built as an extension, so has no foundations or damp proofing. It's freezing cold and wasn't laid out as well as it could've been. Still looked a million times better than ours, though!

Our issue with moving is that we love living here. If we moved, we'd probably be moving to somewhere smaller and with a smaller garden. It's south facing and most of the rooms back onto the garden, so it's lovely and bright. I do have children and the two of the better schools in the local area are a short walk away. My BIL and SIL have moved a few streets away specifically to be near to us, which we like and will help with childcare in the future. My parents are a ten minute walk away. When I've looked at other houses, the area I'm looking at is so limited that not much comes up.

However, if we can't sort out the lean-to without putting on a full extension and spending all of that money, we will have to seriously consider moving instead of wasting our money. I don't see us wanting to move any time in the near future, but we are on a low income now. We inherited this house and our savings. Our income will increase by quite a lot once I am qualified and working, and I think we may want to move to a nicer area eventually, but that is years away.

I'll add on the two sketches now, which are of the current kitchen and the kitchen if fully extended. I wasn't considering a very small extension when I drew them, so will draw a plan showing that. There's also the issue of whether or not to get rid of the current under stairs pantry which is in the kitchen. It'll depend on what we can do with the utility room.

Splandy Sun 20-Nov-16 12:41:57

Rubbish drawings of current and full extension. The rectangle with lines is my piano, which still needs to be housed in this room.

Splandy Sun 20-Nov-16 12:54:52

This is what it looks like at the moment. The shed and utility area has one long flat roof which covers all of it. Ignore that the shed has two rectangles, it is just one shed but I didn't make it look deep enough at first.

imsorryiasked Sun 20-Nov-16 12:59:43

If you're planning on staying put for the foreseeable future and you would need to have at least some of the work done anyway before selling I would go for the full extension. At least that way you will be living on a house that you like and which sits your needs. Yes it might cost you £10k but you'd spend that on moving costs if you went to somewhere else (which would probably be smaller)

Saffronesque Sun 20-Nov-16 13:01:11

Obviously it's not to scale, but trying to see where the extra width is coming from iyswim? Ie 1st pic shows a room width of 2.9 +1.4m & 2nd pic shows new width if 6m?

Maybe start with a scale drawing on square or graph paper; cut out scale pieces for anything that you need to fix in like the piano & go from there.

FWIW I had a similar issue, only our income was unlikely to increase much. Our location was great though & close to family. We decided to spend the savings + a small mortgage to make the house work for us for the next 10-20 years, as far as we could. If we had awful neighbours or any other negatives, we would have moved.

We wrote down all the pros & cons, including emotional as well as financial & came to our decision. It took a lot of thinking plus looking at many neighbours' improvements to come up with our final plan.

Our spending was double what we could recoup on selling in the short term but as our plan was to stay, it was worth it for the intangibles of location - really good for me though they were just good for anyone else & rest of family, great neighbours, sense of not being overlooked despite being in the middle of a housing estate!

Only you can work out what your pros & cons are for that decision. Good luck!

Splandy Sun 20-Nov-16 14:13:25

Sorry, I can see that it's a little confusing! The kitchen at the moment is 2.9 metres wide. The utility area is 1.2. If I only extended to the current utility walls, it would give me a total width of 4.1m. The 6m is if the full extension was done, as the architect we had come out said it was around 3m. Having measured it just now, the full extension would actually give us a width of 5.3m, not 6m, so that's wrong too.

Another issue is the neighbour's window. They have bricked it up inside but the window still exists on the outside. Architect told me that was good because it means it's not an important window. I've since found out that they are council tenants, so if they have bricked that up themselves and ever leave, the council would turn it back into a window. I think that's how it works. I'm not sure of the rules around Windows and am concerned that it could mean we can't extend at all.

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