How to Build an Above-Ground Extension


What are the alternatives when considering an above-ground extension, and how can an extension be built which will actually enhance the existing build­ings’ ecological performance? Many extensions that are made without regard to ecological principles project and intrude where they should not, appro­priating sunlight and more green space than necessary. An ecological design is essentially compact and attentive to the needs of the site.

Here are some of the principles to consider applying:

Procedure:

  • An extension to the north should be used to improve the insulation of the north-facing walls and windows.
  • If the roof slopes down towards the north then an extension in that direction should ideally continue the line of the roof down towards the ground in order to reduce the amount of shading at the side of the house. Furthermore, this reduction in shading can be further reduced if it is possible to raise the ground around the house at the back. This is referred to as berming, and is illustrated below.

Above Ground Extension

  • An extension to the south should use this aspect to make the best possible use of passive solar gain, with the type of glazing used for a conservatory or sunroom. The extension can then be designed to ease the heating load on the building rather than to increase it.
  • An extension can be created by glazing over a space between walls or buildings. This has the effect of consolidating the overall mass of the building.

All extensions should take account of the prevailing wind and shield any entrances from this direction. Also it should be clear, before undertaking any building work, exactly how the shadow of any new extension will affect any neighbouring property or important external feature.

It should not be forgotten that there are limited but effective ways of extending from the first or second floors without affecting the external ground level. It is possible to build a light­weight cantilevered structure, not unlike a bay window, at first floor level, or an enclosed balcony. This feature is called an oriel window and was used more commonly in the past. It can have all the advantages of a sunroom or conservatory. The concept is illustrated on the right.

Dormer windows are also a form of exten­sion and can be used to enlarge and give more headroom to an attic space. These too can be designed as sunrooms, conservatories or greenhouses as required. Finally, it is worth thinking carefully how you can alter your Oriel windows home without spoiling its character too much.

Is it possible to incorporate some of the old vernacular methods of building from the locality?

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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