Cut your extension costs – tips from the experts

In another recent article, we looked at prices for real-life house extensions, provided by architects on Design for Me, and gave a cost per square metre rate as guidance for your project:

Renovation and extension cost per square metre

A great design professional can be worth their weight in gold; they will help you find clever solutions to maximise your budget by choosing the best construction method, materials and finishes. We asked some of the top architects on Design for Me to share some example projects with us, and how they saved their clients thousands of pounds through good design and planning while still creating beautiful, inspiring houses.

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Ground floor renovation and extension in London, SE9 by Suzanne – See her profile here and shortlist her for your project.

extension project costs

Rear Extension to Georgian terrace to create large open plan family space that would include modern kitchen with island and breakfast bar, dining space, living room space with extra storage for children, ground floor WC with shower and utility room. 






Tip 1. Choosing the right construction method

The construction method made use of ICF block to reduce the time of construction and control the cost. This helped to reduce cost in comparison to standard methods and hugely improved building thermal and sound performance.


Tip 2. Take advantage of trade connections

The client also took advantage of our trade connections and benefitted from reduced cost when purchasing second fix items.

Contractors are often able to to access trade discounts. Alternatively, if you are planning on undertaking some of the work yourselves Building Supplies Online is a really good website offering trade prices to consumers. Definitely worth checking out for things like tiling, floor finishes, bathroom and kitchen fittings.


Tip 3. Shop off-the-peg instead of going bespoke

We used standard Velux roof lights with electric control instead of expensive architectural glazing.


Extension and refurbishment in Bristol by Stephen – See his profile here and shortlist him for your project.

Extension costs per square metre

Contemporary extension and refurbishment of an ‘Arts and Crafts’ 1920s house. Works include: top floor roof extension to create fifth double bedroom, rear two-storey extension with corner to corner glazing, removal of load bearing walls to create open plan living, new kitchen and two new bathrooms. External works include new raised terrace and new rear terrace with retaining wall. Project works to commence Q1 2018.


Tip 4. Limit removal of existing structure

We kept the amount of underpinning and removal of existing structure to minimum, eg. we removed the chimney stack but retained chimney breast internally (as opposed to full removal).


Tip 5. Limit the relocation of services

We retained the existing mechanical and electrical plant equipment, including the boiler and consumer unit (fuse box).


Refurbishment and extensions in Henley by James – See his profile here and shortlist him for your project.

house extension

Whole House Refurbishment project and new extensions.


Tip 6. Haggle

When undertaking a building project, there is a huge amount of services/products and items you need to buy. Therefore seeking the best possible price is an absolute must. Many clients, when working on their own homes, push really hard for the best deals. To do this visit manufacturers and suppliers, strike up a personal relationship and then secure the best deal you can. Nine times out ten it really works and you can save sometimes anywhere between 15-25%.


Project by Allister – See his profile here and shortlist him for your project

Kitchen _Park Cres_small

 Photo by Adam Carter/Real Homes

Park Crescent, Oxfordshire

Extension and re-planning of a late Victorian suburban house. Work involved re-planning the rear of the property including replacing a poorly designed 1970s extension with a much larger one and repositioning the kitchen within to create a modern family space that addressed the garden. 


Tip 7. Avoid designer branded kitchens

Our client opted for a bespoke kitchen from a local joinery firm. This was partly to save money over offerings from firms such as Smallbone of Devizes or Teddy Edwards. However, our client is rather tall and the bespoke option allowed him to have worktops higher than usual.



Project by James – See his profile here and shortlist him for your project

extension cost

Whole house refurb and new extensions in Bucks.

Whole house refurbishment project and new extensions.To be completed Sept 2017

Tip 9. Muck in

Another useful cost saving strategy is to be directly involved in the day-to-day workings of the build. Therefore, chose a builder who is quite happy for you to labour for them, tidy the site, move materials, as well as do the final decoration of the house. This strategy is not always effective and it really depends on the clients/builder but if you have the time to dedicate to the project their are opportunities to save some money.


Tip 10. Choose the right team

(This one’s from us)

Getting professional advice is the best way to manage your budget. A good architect will work with you to make sure you are spending your budget in the right way and advise where costs would be unnecessary or could be minimised. For larger or more ambitious extensions, you may benefit from using a quantity surveyor too.

Make sure you get three to five quotes from recommended builders (your architect can help compile a tender list for you) to get a firm idea of the costs before starting work.


What is ‘Design for Me’?

Design for Me is a free platform to help you quickly find the right design professional for your home project. As a residential architect myself, I started Design for Me after finding that talented and innovative small firms and individuals, who are perfectly placed to design new homes, extensions and/or renovations, can often get buried under the online profiles of large, commercial companies.

Before Design for Me, the right architect was very difficult to find!

Once you register your project, we’ll match it with 100s of top architects or architectural technicians, and you can see who may be available and eager to work on your project straight away.

Emily  Design for Me


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Here at Design for Me we match you with the right design professional, from thousands all over the UK. Get quotes & arrange up to three no obligation consultations. And it’s all completely free! Find out more here or get started below…



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