The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Kitchen Extension in 2021

Kitchen extensions have always been big business in the UK, but have really come into their own as of late. With the average person now spending more time at home than ever before, it’s understandable that home improvements are currently more popular than ever.

Whether it’s a case of wanting more storage space in the kitchen, to create a room which provides a great place to relax as well as cook, or are thinking of adding a home office, an extension may be something you’ve been considering.

Of course, a kitchen extension is a relatively major undertaking as one of the more advanced home improvement projects. Nevertheless, it is also guaranteed to make a dramatic improvement to the comfort, convenience and kerb appeal of your home.

In the case of the latter, the costs of kitchen extensions are often augmented entirely by improved property values.

But even if you have no intention of selling your property at any point in the near future, an investment in the true heart and soul of the home comes highly recommended.

Whether you dream of a kitchen island at which to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, additional kitchen units to house all of your accoutrements, or simply an additional space for the family to gather, a kitchen extension can be just what you are looking for.

Knowing where to get started is often the trickiest step in the process, which is where our ultimate guide to planning a kitchen extension in 2021 could prove invaluable.

How much does a kitchen extension cost in 2021?

It is not untrue to say that you can spend as little or as much as you like on a kitchen extension. Rather than starting out by calculating kitchen extension costs, work backwards by first determining how much you want to spend.

After which, the time comes to begin exploring the limitless options available and finding something that fits your vision. As a very the basic rule of thumb, a typical kitchen extension can cost anything from £1,000 to more than £3,000 per square metre – depending on the materials you choose, the quality of the finish and so on.

When budgeting for a kitchen extension, remember that you will also need to allow for the units, appliances, flooring and fixtures to complete it. Kitchen extension costs typically encompass the structural alterations only, as opposed to the finished kitchen and its content.

As a ‘safety net’ of sorts, it is also advisable to budget an extra 10% to 15% over your estimated costs for the kitchen extension. This is simply to ensure you have a little extra available, in case you run into any unexpected costs or complications along the way.

What type of kitchen extension should I choose?

The beauty of designing your own kitchen extension lies in the opportunity to create something unique. That said, there are just a few major categories of kitchen extensions that most designs fall within.

Most households opt for a single-storey extension to the back of the property, making use of the available space to the rear. Side-return extensions are also popular, which provide Victorian terraced homeowners with the opportunity to make use of space that normally serves no real practical purpose.

If feeling particularly ambitious, you could consider an L-shaped extension that wraps around one of the corners of your home. In all instances, the goal is to make better use of the exterior space you have available, by creating an extension that boosts the size, practicality and comfort of your kitchen.

When planning the kitchen extension, it’s important to consider how it will create flow within your home. So how will other rooms be affected, and don’t forget to think about how your extension will impact on your garden space. While a kitchen extension will generally add value to your home, if you use up too much of your outdoor space, this could put potential buyers off later down the line.


Do I need planning permission to build a kitchen extension?

Planning permission kitchen extensin

This is where things get slightly tricky, as you may or may not need planning permission to go about a kitchen extension. When planning any project that alters the exterior shape or structure of your home, it is important to check with your local council whether or not a permit is needed.

Before getting started on your dream kitchen extension, take a walk down your street and note if or any other properties have extensions similar to the one you have in mind. If so, it most likely indicates that you will be permitted to proceed with the project.

If you fail to secure the planning permission you need and go ahead with your extension any way, you may be ordered to tear it down and restore your property’s prior structure at your own expense.

In recent years the government have relaxed planning rules in regards to extensions. The changes have given homeowners more flexibility to improve and increase the value of their homes. Previously, without planning permission, you could add a single-storey extension of up to 3 meters in depth for an attached property and 4m to a detached house, these distances have been doubled.

In many cases you can build a kitchen extension under what’s known as permitted development. This allows you to carry out specific works which meet certain criteria. Under permitted development the following rules apply:

  • You can extend a detached property by 8m to the rear if it’s a single-storey extension (6m for a semi or terraced house), or by 3m if it’s double
  • A single-storey extension can’t be higher than 4m on the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension can’t be higher than the existing property
  • Two-storey extensions must not be closer than 7m to the rear boundary
  • Side extensions can only be single storey with a maximum height of 4m and a width no more than half of the original building
  • Any new extension must be built in the same or similar material to the existing dwelling
  • Extensions must not go forward of the building line of the original dwelling
  • In designated areas (such as areas of outstanding natural beauty, conservation areas, etc), side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey
  • An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered


It’s important to bear in mind that different rules may apply if you live in a conversation area, if your building is listed, or if you live within a National Park.


The vast majority of small to medium-sized kitchen extensions are exempt from planning permission. It is still a good idea to check with your local council first, rather than making assumptions. Even if the local authorities say you need to apply for planning permission, it is not a particularly painful or perplexing process.

The design team and/or architect you hire in the early stages will most likely offer all the support you need to obtain planning permission, if required.

Don’t forget the exterior

kitchen exterior extension

It’s imperative not to overlook how your extension will look from outside. While you may spend lots of time thinking about every detail of the inside of your dream kitchen, it’s important to remember that you want it to look good from an exterior perspective too!

After all, you don’t wish to be sitting in your garden looking onto something which doesn’t look great.


Consider whether you wish for the kitchen to match your existing exterior, or whether you are looking to create something that looks more contemporary against the home.


Do I need to use an architect?

Technically speaking, it is possible to plan and go ahead with a kitchen extension without hiring an architect. If you hire an experienced local building contractor, they may provide an all-inclusive package where no additional architect input is required. Or if you have the knowledge and experience needed to design your own dream kitchen from scratch, go right ahead!

In most instances, however, planning your kitchen extension in meticulous detail with an experienced architect is advisable. You may have a definite vision in mind for your dream kitchen, but is it really suitable for your property?  Perhaps there is an even better option available you have not yet considered?

If you have your sights set on a specific local contractor, they will most probably have their own trusted architects and designers they can provide or recommend. If hiring an architect separately, seek them out via verified trade bodies or seek recommendations. Always check their reputation and track record to ensure they are up to the job.

How long does a kitchen extension take to complete?

how long does a kitchen extension take?

A kitchen extension is a fairly extensive home improvement project, and therefore takes time to complete. Approximate project completion times vary significantly on the basis of multiple factors, such as the size and complexity of the kitchen extension, accessibility issues, resource and manpower requirements, delays due to adverse weather conditions and so on.

As a basic guideline, you should expect your kitchen to take approximately 10 to 12 weeks to complete. The planning process alone can take 2 to 4 weeks, before any aspect of the demolition or construction gets underway.

However, a skilled and experienced contractor will do everything they can to minimise disruption during this time and allow you to go about your business as normal. Though anticipating a certain amount of disruption is advisable, given the major restructuring work your property will undergo in the meantime.

Choosing the right layout for a kitchen extension

As for choosing the right layout for a kitchen extension, the same rules apply as when deciding on any conventional kitchen layout. The scope of options available will be determined by both the size of the resulting kitchen and its shape/configuration.

The key to successful kitchen design lies in prioritising the working triangle.  This means ensuring there is a clear and convenient path between your sink, fridge and hob to allow free movement. Ensuring you have plenty of countertop space is also essential, as is avoiding the temptation to squeeze too much into every inch of available space.

Kitchen extensions can often be a dream to light, which may be illuminated almost in their entirety with natural light throughout the day. Though this of course depends on the type of kitchen extension you choose and the size/positioning of the windows. Skylights are incredibly popular at the moment – they allow light into the kitchen giving the appearance of space. Bifold doors provide a great way to bring flow through to the garden, and give the illusion of an outdoor/indoor blend during warmer months.

Carefully consider how you will use the additional floor space – perhaps an attractive island could maximise the functionality of your kitchen? Or if possible, why not consider setting up a dedicated dining space or breakfast bar?

Again, choosing the right layout is all about making the best use of the space you have available and prioritising practicality.

Zoning Your Kitchen


Kitchen zones allow for defining the activity which takes part in specific areas of your kitchen – for example you have the cooking zone, where the oven and job may reside, a preparation zone – for food prep.

Consider how you want to use the space, and then zone it, so that each part of your kitchen has a clear function – for example, a space to eat, cook, relax. Defining specific zones gives you the opportunity to ensure that they can serve their function best.

For example, areas where you carry out “work” – whether that’s food preparation, or even the kids homework may require addition task lighting, or would benefit from being underneath a natural skylight.


Choosing kitchen units for your extension

Choosing kitchen units and cabinets for your extension should be given careful thought. Presentation and practicality should be prioritised equally, so as to ensure your new kitchen is an enjoyable and productive place to spend time.

Never forget that cabinet doors are the single most visible design elements in any kitchen. This is why working backwards is the way to go – choose your dream kitchen cabinet doors before moving onto the dimensions and positioning of your units.

If you are happy with the current style and design of your kitchen, you can go for something that perfectly matches your existing cabinets. Alternatively, you could take the opportunity to completely transform the aesthetic and appeal of the entire space.

Just be sure to think carefully about organisation, convenient storage and accessibility when choosing units for your kitchen extension. The more intelligent storage solutions you have around the space, the easier it becomes to eliminate clutter and create the inspiring and low-maintenance kitchen of your dreams.

If you are considering a new kitchen, here at Kitchen Warehouse, we provide a vast range of kitchen units and doors, all at competitive prices. Browse our online store to discover hundreds of options.

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