Home Extensions: the essential books
So you are actually considering building that house extension (or home extensions, should you have more than one house and business is thriving). With the support materials that exist nowadays, the free advice you can find online and the specialised publications and websites, we’d encourage you to go for it. Or you can save yourself the substantial headache and hire specialists.
Now whether you want to build a home extension for personal reasons because your family has grown bigger, or it’s strictly a business investment, here are 7 absolutely essential books for home extension builders, home owners, architects, students and other professionals, plus a few notable mentions.
1. Housebuilders Bible, 12th Ed (Apr 2017), by Mark Brinkley
The Housebuilders Bible (new, updated edition as of April 2017) is based on the author’s experiences as a builder and developer. Mark lives in Cambridge and he’s a regular blog publisher and researcher in the industry.
Needless to say that it’s not titled the bible of the housebuilder for nothing, the material has come a long way from its first editions and it now has a steady fan base comprised of professionals from various industries; it’s also considered an important book that comes with strong recommendations for the occasional builder as well as for the more seasoned house builders that now take more and more jobs through the online platforms like MyBuilder and others (which unfortunately we can’t recommend as much – we’ll do another post about that soon.)
Intrigued by the bold – and I have to say I thought foolishly brave – title, I decided to read the bible and appropriately enough, it proved revelatory. Mark has managed to dissect and analyze the housebuilding process in a way quite unlike anything I have ever read, or have read since, examining each key decision and the factors that influence cost, quality and build speed.
The average new house is constructed entirely by builders, takes about 6-8 months to complete and costs about £90 per sq ft. […] It is built to standards that meet – and do not exceed – the current building regulations. If you want to maximise the financial return on your new house […] it pays to be dead simple.
2. Home Extension Manual: The Step-by-step Guide to Planning, Building and Managing a Project, 2nd Ed (2011) by Ian Rock
Ian Alistair Rock is an experienced chartered surveyor and freelance writer who has contributed articles to The Observer, Build It, Move or Improve and numerous other publications. He has designed and managed home extension projects since the late 1980s. Alongside his other books for Haynes, which include Victorian House Manual, 1930s House Manual and Loft Conversion manual, Ian now shares his extension-building experiences the good, the bad and the downright scary!
For a book that contains so much information and insight, it is very easy to read and even entertaining in places and, on top of that, it really gives you a feel of what it is like to build your house. This new edition (8 Jan 2015) includes all the updated relevant information on planning and building regulations in the UK, with consideration to environmental issues and options for micro-generation, areas that have suffered changes recently.
Although there’s a fairly good chance that your plot will turn out to be perfectly sound for development, it’s just too expensive a risk to assume all is fine down below. The official figures make alarming reading, 440.000 UK homes are on ground that’s liable for subsidence and around 100.000 on sites at risk from landslip. That’s not counting the ones potentially at risk from flooding, radon gas and wind damage.
3. How to Design and Plan a House or Extension: Be Your Own Architect, illustrated, (2013), by George Baxter
How to Design and Plan a House or Extension: Be Your Own Architect has useful suggestions on how to assess your requirements, how to analyse your site, the practicalities of design taking into account various design styles / details.
The book also guides you through the practical aspects of obtaining the necessary planning, listed building consent and building regulation approvals and where to go for advice / help. A fact filled journey taking you from analysing your home requirements through to understanding the statutory approvals required. It’s a DIY architecture book that earned its good reputation by not overcomplicating things unnecessarily.
Whilst occasionally criticised for not following the highest standards of English, its author never claimed it to be anything more than a handy manual for the typical DIY home extension guy or gal, which works rather well. In conclusion, if you’re about to undertake a house extension or you’re in the process of doing that, there are good chances that you will refer to this material a lot.
4. Home Extension Design (2019), 2nd Edition, by Julian Owen
Since most people considering a significant alteration to their home have no experience or knowledge of the process that has to be followed to make their project successful, this book promises to break the spell and empower homeowners with enough information to actually go through with it.
Written by an experienced architect with a deep understanding of home improvers’ needs, this revised guide expertly distils the practical information needed to run a project from chat-over-the-table to reality, highlighting the pitfalls along the way and suggesting ways to avoid them.
The book attempts to demystify both the building process and the surrounding issues to do with design, sustainability, budgeting, planning, regulations and the use of building contracts whilst also providing illustrated case studies and practical ideas for homeowners.
5. Renovating For Profit (2008) by Michael Holmes
Michael, one of the UK’s leading residential property experts, is the Editor-in-Chief of three leading specialist home interest titles, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living and Real Homes, which together constitute 8% of the UK home interest market.
If you are considering going into property development or renovating a house for the first time, get this book. It covers everything from choosing the right property, buying at the right price, marketing your property, to finance and tax etc.
This book, by bricks-and-mortar expert Michael Holmes, will show you how to maximise the value of your investment and will reveal the kind of home improvements that make economic sense.
Authoritative and detailed text covers all major aspects of home improvement, including conservatories, loft and basement conversions, double-glazing, central heating, kitchens and bathrooms. With sound advice and clear, comprehensive charts and tables, it adds up to an indispensable handbook for any homeowner who is thinking of building on to, extending, altering or selling their property.
For anyone that wants to read a specific area (like interiors, for example) the book is nicely separated into chapters, so you can find what you need easily.
6. Upgrade: Home Extensions, Alterations and Refurbishments (2017) by Gestalten Magazine
Well edited and supported by exceptional photography, Gestalten Magazine did a great job in putting together an inspiring list of potential space transformations in an aesthetically pleasing way, while exploring ideas to enhance and repurpose our surroundings (from sheds into playrooms, garages to guesthouses and other somewhat de bon goût bohemiam transformations).
This is a volume for all who desire a new perspective, for those that prefer to preserve rather than to demolish. […]
Repurposing the unused; a dilapidated barn, a raddled townhome, a historical and fading building façade – these can all be starting points for stunning and inspiring homes. Upgrade displays transformations: be it sheds into playrooms, a garage to a guesthouse, or an alpine hut into a holiday getaway. Hidden in the walls of old structures are possibilities and inspirations that can be realized with any budget; charm and character become the criteria for titivating a residence.
7. Home Extensions: The Complete Handbook by Paul Hymers, 4th Ed (2015)
Paul Hymers is a corporate building engineer who works as a Building Control Officer for his local council in Kent. He checks and approves plans and monitors work in progress.
Written as a result of the discovery that the problems encountered and mistakes made in building extensions are largely due to a lack of information available to the general public and to many builders, the author has written this highly informative, easy-access book that launched its 4th edition on October 2015.
The book is perfect for anyone who wants to manage a home extension project. There is invaluable advice on all the major aspects of getting work done on time, safely and cost effectively. It also deals with legal aspects (in plain English) that will ensure that if anything goes wrong, you and your money are protected.
Don’t buy this book if you are looking for information on how to build it yourself (see DIY architecture books for home extensions and renovations). This book is designed to give you enough information about the work you are employing builders to do so that they don’t rip you off with shoddy or dangerous work. All in all, this is an excellent book with gems of vital information on each page.
8. House Plus: Imaginative Ideas for Extending Your Home (2005), by Phyllis Richardson
Like How to Design and Plan a House or Extension: Be Your Own Architect above, House Plus: Imaginative Ideas for Extending Your Home by Phyllis Richardson makes for a more than decent and down to earth handy guide if you’ve outgrown your house and planning a new extension.
The projects presented are interesting, explained well and the imagery is quite good and supportive, considering that the material is not that new.
A good coffee table book that you will dip in and out and comes with plenty of ideas about the possibilities to maximise your existing home instead of buying a new one, this all-in-one lifestyle, architecture and design guide to extending your home is what we’d call an essential, if only for the fact that, unlike most books in the genre, the examples given are actually affordable as compared to the designer house books.
A survey of contemporary architectural, interior, and lifestyle renovations currently available to homeowners looking to add space to a home draws from a variety of international examples, shares sixty project ideas, and features coverage of such options as converting spaces and adding side extensions.
- 26 January 2017 – adde books #3 and #7.
- 10 May 2017 added the latest edition of #1 and replaced #5 (“Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home” by Julie Carlson) with “Upgrade: Home Extensions, Alterations and Refurbishments”
- 27 September 2018 corrected a number and update a cover image.
- 10 April 2021 added #4 [Home Extension Design (2019), 2nd Edition, by Julian Owen]