There are times in our lives when landmark events propel us into the arms of architects, builders or estate agents. For myself and my wife, Ewa, it was the prospect of ‘empty nesting’ that goaded us into adding a new extension to our home. With son Joe soon to be following sibling Kathy to a new life at university, according to conventional wisdom, we should be sauntering off to a sober existence in a semi-detached bungalow by the sea.
The trouble is, downsizing to ‘appropriately sized’ accommodation is a prospect that I tend to regard with dismay. We have spent much of our adult lives battling to rise up the property ladder — extending, converting and refurbishing various homes along the way.
A decade ago we came across our home on the edge of a Buckinghamshire village, with a huge garden adjoining open countryside. I was worried that, in comparison, downsizing to a more compact dwelling would feel like a life sentence.
The site plan reveals the extent of the large garden and the space available to build an extension
Creating a Multi-Generational Home with an Extension
As a surveyor you can’t help but sometimes notice what’s going on in the lives of the people who occupy the homes you’re surveying. One recurring theme reported is ‘the kids are coming back’. Loaded with debt and unable to afford mortgages or high rents, it’s becoming more common for twentysomethings to return to the parental home while they save for the future.
But there’s another long-term trend developing. Nearly a million adults aged between 35 and 64 now have at least one aged parent living with them.
My nonagenarian mother is happily residing in a well-run care home. With the media full of care home horror stories however, it would serve us well to have a plan B in the form of a ‘granny flat’ extension to the house.
The idea of an extension should also make sense financially. Our savings would probably be better invested in bricks and mortar than in a paltry savings account.
The self-contained ‘annexe’ extension could also potentially provide a useful income as an occasional holiday let. From a planning perspective this should be acceptable, with the proviso that it’s not a completely separate self-contained dwelling.
In truth, a big part of my motivation for our extension plans was personal. I have never been able to resist the urge to fulfil the potential of the properties I’ve owned. So, even as our home was on the verge of losing its last youthful occupant, we decided instead to fly in the face of convention and add an extension.