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All-glass extension at back of terraced house - good idea or terrible?

(25 Posts)
JessiCake Tue 21-Feb-17 21:06:15

We live in an Edwardian terrace in London.

It's a nice house, shabbier than we'd like but we have a 3 yo and cash is tight. the kind of place that could be stunning if we had more time and a large budget and no messy toys etc around!

But we desperately want to extend out into the garden. The ground floor feels/is small (top-heavy house iyswim) and we could really do with the extra space downstairs. Indeed we bought the house pretty much on the assumption that we WOULD extend and never intended not to.

But... life! We have had some unexpected expenditure and some freelancing of mine hasn't quite worked out, so our budget isn't really 'there' yet, and not likely to be for maybe 3-4 more years.

We were quoted a (very rough) 60k to extend (one storey, roughly 3 m into the garden). This for a 'proper' extension.

A friend has now suggested that we should look at something all-glass instead. In her mind, this would be cheaper (?) and - I trust her advice on the aesthetics as her own house is lovely) - would potentially look terrific.

I am not sure but would love some advice on eg where I could start looking to see what sorts of things might be viable. Pinterest? Magazines?

Also, any thoughts from anyone in the know about whether this WOULD in fact be cheaper...

The last thing I want is a 'conservatory' or some hideous lean-to !!!

I am starting from zero knowledge or experience (or much talent!) at all but IF it would be cheaper and IF it could, if done well, look terrific, I would seriously like to consider it.

It is north-facing so no matter what kind of extension we do, we want to make the absolute maximum use of natural light anyway. Which I think is why my friend suggested it.

Also if we extend it will leave our garden really pretty small (ok for us, but small) so I thinkk her thinking was that a glass extension might make it feel more outdoors-indoors...?

I really would love to hear thoughts from anyone who's done it or NOT done it for whatever reason!

Many many thanks.

measles64 Tue 21-Feb-17 21:09:25

My son has priced up these type of glass extensions for clients, they are not cheap, the clients are always amazed that it is dearer than bricks and large areas of glass windows. They do look fabulous though.

JessiCake Tue 21-Feb-17 21:16:39

measles, yes, that doesn't surprise me at all. I think if we were doing it this way we would really want it to look 'fabulous' (my mum keeps suggesting a 'conservatory' which really, really isn't the look I'd be going for...) and wouldn't want to do it on the cheap just for the sake of it.

That said, I hadn't even considered something all-glass so I do want to look further into it - will be a bit fed up if it ends up enticing me and lloking to cost even more than a brick extension though!

Thanks for such a swift post!

lucydogz Tue 21-Feb-17 22:15:53

It sounds wonderful, but I wouldn't because you'd have no privacy, you'd spend £££s on keeping them clean (inside and out) and, eventually, they will fail, you'll get condensation inside and have to replace them.

Usernamewithnodigits Tue 21-Feb-17 22:16:31

I have managed to send photos of mine to another MNer after she has sent me her email address. That sounds dodgy but you can be confirmed if you look through my history.

We have lots of windows & an entire wall of bi-fold doors - south facing & it gets VERY hot. Uncomfortable. To the point of not particularly wanting to sit in that room. When the doors are open all the leaves, dry mud & other general garden crap comes in & the floor feels 'bitty' to walk on.

However, the room is stunning to look at & benin when it's a comfortable climate & works well in the dry summers.

It very much links the indoors to outside & is great in that respect but I can't speak for the cost I'm afraid as it was done before we purchased the property.

We had a conservatory in our old house & I woukd still go for what we have now over the former on the basis that the room is always usable to a degree whereas the conservatory was either always too hot or too cold.

Usernamewithnodigits Tue 21-Feb-17 22:18:02

X-post with Pp.
Our rear garden is completely private, even in winter with bare trees.

I use the Karcher window cleaning vac which works surprisingly well.

measles64 Tue 21-Feb-17 22:23:53

Best get some quotes, then you will know where you stand. Also get testimonials.

minipie Tue 21-Feb-17 22:53:01

The neighbours who back onto us (they are n facing) have one of these.

We call it the goldfish bowl as you can see whatever they are up to - no we don't watch but it's not private at all and they recently put in blinds which they have shut a lot of the time.

I'd also be worried about it being cold in winter. You'd need underfloor heating and radiators as well = big heating bill.

Also not sure it would be cheaper, I would have thought more expensive than brick built actually, at least if you want something modern and fabulous rather than conservatory esque. Structural frameless glass is not cheap.

If you want some ideas have a look at architects websites. Giles Pike for example.

phr01 Tue 21-Feb-17 23:31:39

All glass extensions can be really good or really bad depends on the design and materials. Get a competent Architect that will know how to specify glass walls - these are special glass pans that are insulating and reduce heat in direct sun light, they are used on commercial buildings everywhere. The special coating on the glass, the thickness and special sills will make the panels expensive if you want comfort in any temperature and beautiful clear vision glass.
All glass construction also tend to be done with structural glass which is really expensive.
Now if you also want it to look sleek, your architect can come up with some clever details. If you just go to the average builder he may make a mess of a very expensive piece of kit and glass panels that will end up looking bulky and may fail and get condensation.. just a thought. Google some glass extensions images and you'll see what I mean..
also consider architects fees, glass and construction.. you will spend a lot more than 60K
Good luck

JoJoSM2 Tue 21-Feb-17 23:50:09

They are very fashionable now but personally I'd go with sth more in keeping.

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 10:45:34

Thanks everyone!

Will have a bit more of a look around the whole issue but I think your thoughts on here have coalesced my own thinking tbh. I think we'll go for the more tradiitonal extension when we can afford it (although I don't doubt for a minute that a swnaky all-glass one would be more pricey) and just put in as much in the way of windows/skylights as we can to get the maximum amount of light.

North-facing is a bastard...

NomDePlumeReloaded Wed 22-Feb-17 10:57:28

I wouldn't have thought a good quality glass box extension (i.e. One that has self cleaning, insulated heat regulating glass that doesn't boil you to death in summer or freeze you in winter) would be cheaper than a trad brick build. Huge sheets of techy glazing are very expensive indeed and the 'hidden' engineering required for clean lines on a glass box seem to ramp the price up too.

Cost aside, there is the privacy aspect, the light fading/damaging furniture, the dirt/smears/bird poo/tree mess, insulation. Also consider passing fashions. They will look passé in a few years - a well designed, in keeping brick extension probably won't.

sunshinesupermum Wed 22-Feb-17 11:08:38

Actually northfacing is better if you have a lot of glass - far better than south or west where the room will bake in any sunshine. Have had both.

Currently I have french windows leading outside and another adjacent window which lets in more light. Depending on the structure if it's single storey extension you can have roof lights as well for additional day light.

My exterior is brick built. Think it will be cheaper for you than all glass. And def doesn't need to be traditional conservatory at all. Good luck.

sunshinesupermum Wed 22-Feb-17 11:12:01

NomdePlume These glass 'rooms' which bring the outdoor in have been used for London homes since at least 2000 (my next door neighbour was one of the first people I knew who had one with no problems of fabrics fading etc!)

They show no signs of losing popularity simply because of the light and space you get from them. The main drawback is cost and, if you are overlooked, privacy.

LizzieMacQueen Wed 22-Feb-17 11:12:32

Has conservatory design not moved on to something a bit more modern?

Or is that the preserve of the more exclusive ones. Mazowslski or something like that.

minipie Wed 22-Feb-17 11:25:10

JessiCake some north facing houses behind me have got brick built extensions, but with a row of angled glass panels in between where the extension meets the main house. So basically that allows light to come into the main house. Then they usually have a large rooflight in the extension itself as well. That's what I'd do in your shoes

sunshinesupermum Wed 22-Feb-17 11:26:19

minipie sounds good to me

beargrass Wed 22-Feb-17 11:28:22

The points about north/south facing etc are good ones. Have you looked on Houzz? (Think that's how it's spelt). DH has the app. There's loads and loads on there for ideas for this kind of thing.

minipie Wed 22-Feb-17 11:37:24

here's an example of the row of angled glass

(personally I'd have put a rooflight in the flat ceiling as well)

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 12:12:12

Love that pic minipie!

Thanks so much all.

Will have a look at Houzz now... this will be my lunch hour well spent...!

Sigh. Of course, there's the issue of how we afford it any time soon...! But it's nice to get ideas.

Thank you.

minipie Wed 22-Feb-17 12:28:22

article about glass extensions... says generally more costly than a solid extension (sorry!)

JessiCake Wed 22-Feb-17 12:36:26

Thank you minipie!

Have namechanged a good deal but you've often popped up on threads I've started with great advice so thank you for all that too!

babydad Wed 22-Feb-17 13:11:07

We wanted a glass extension, but prices a crazy high due to them needing to be structurally sound.
You will also struggle to get it through building control due to the heat loss that can be experienced. Easier and cheaper to have some form of solid structure.

Cosmicglitterpug Wed 22-Feb-17 13:41:08

North facing garden in a London Edwardian terrace owner here.

When we bought our house the side return on the left of the house had been done with a sky light and a glass door. Then the remaining left hand wall is two large panes of glass and the back wall is two sliding glass doors. So a solid structure but mainly glass. I didn't choose it and I don't know how much it was, but I like it. It lets the right amount of light in and doesn't get too hot or cold.

measles64 Wed 22-Feb-17 17:47:15

Friends have the sky light and bi folds, their extension looks awesome. The glass conservatories son (an architect) has priced do make folk gasp, there is a lot of expertise and invisible seams involved, to be honest no-one knows how long they will last before leaking because they are so new.

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