You are here: Should you extend your home or move?

More homeowners look to extend as the cost of moving increases and planning rules relax. It pays to weigh up the pros and cons of each option.

For many families, there comes a time when home starts to feel a bit cramped and you need more space. Perhaps your toddlers have grown into teenagers who each need their own bedroom. Maybe you want a big kitchen-diner. Or perhaps you have become self-employed and require a home office. What do you do? Sell up and move to a bigger property or stay put and extend?

Should you move or improve?
Should you move or improve?

Location, location, location

Much depends on how emotionally attached you are to the house you live in and the area. Do you like your neighbours? Can your children walk to school with their friends? Is it an easy commute to work? Does the local shopkeeper know you by name? Even if you like things where you are, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better elsewhere. Check online property portals like Zoopla and RightMove to see if your dream home is already out there. Remember to factor in the costs of moving, such as Stamp Duty, estate agent fees and removal costs.

Will it solve your problems?

An unsuccessful property search may make you think it’s better to stay put. If this is the case, think about your reasons for wanting to move. Consider if your problems can be solved by extending or remodelling. In some cases, this may not be possible. If you live in a flat or maisonette with no garden, there is little chance of making the property bigger. However, if you live in a house with outside space, garage or loft, adding extra living space may be a real possibility. Or, you may be able to achieve your aims by simply reconfiguring rooms, for example knocking down a dividing wall to create a large kitchen-diner.

Will it add value?

The other big plus of extending, of course, it that it adds value to your property. A two-bedroom property that has been upgraded into three-bedrooms is worth considerably more. Extending at ground floor level by even a couple of metres to create a bigger kitchen and open plan living space can also add value. But other building works, such as an extra downstairs loo, might only show marginal gains. Similarly, extending your house so it’s a lot bigger and better than others on your street may not achieve what you hope for when it comes to resale. A good local estate agent should be able to advise how much value your planned extension will add and if it might make more financial sense to move.  The figures don’t add up if it costs £50,000 to build your home extension and it only adds £10,000 to its value, for example.

Financial return

In terms of making a profit, if you’re not planning to stay where you are for long, it might be better to simply get planning permission for the extension if required but not build it. The value that planning consent will add to a property it usually much more than the cost of securing it, so will give you a quick return.  On the other hand, if you plan to stay in the medium to the longer term, building your home extension is likely to be a better investment as property prices increase over time. Plus, you will have had years of enjoying the extra space, comfort and quality of life.

Planning rules relaxed

It’s now easier to build an extension, thanks to Permitted Development Rights (PDR). In 2013, the Government introduced temporary rules allowing homeowners to build smaller extensions without having to submit a full planning application. These relaxed rules were made permanent in May 2019. This means you can build a single-storey rear extension up to six metres on a terrace or semi-detached house and up to eight metres on a detached house under PDR. Bigger extensions still need council consent. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, the rules are slightly different. For details see planning

Costs of moving…

It’s not easy to compare the costs of moving and extending your home. To get an idea of house moving costs you can use the handy calculator on our (sister) website House Move Pro ( For example, buying a property of £450,000 and selling one for £300,000 (moving 100 miles in the process), would cost £12,500 in Stamp Duty, £4,500 in estate agent’s fees, £1,083 in legal fees (to buy and sell), £400 for a building survey (optional) and £50 for an Energy Performance Certificate – a total £19,453.  That’s just the estimated cost of moving. Don’t forget to factor in higher mortgage payments if you move to a more expensive property.

…vs cost of extending

Building costs for an extension vary hugely depending on the location, size and design. In June 2019, the starting price for an extension in the South-East is around £1,600 per m2, according to architect Scot Masker of Pro Vision. This makes the cost of building a basic single-storey, 5m x 5m extension around £40,000. You then need to add about 10% for professional fees for the architect, structural engineer, planning application and building regulations. On top of that comes fitting out costs which can be substantial for a kitchen or bathroom.

A loft conversion is cheaper than building a new extension, metre for metre. Check out costs for your home extension by getting three quotes from builders local to you. Prices will be higher in London and the South-East.

Don’t forget the disruption

Moving home is said to be one of life’s most stressful experiences. There’s so much to organise and, before the contracts are finally exchanged, it can be an anxious time. Obviously, you can avoid house moving stress by opting to stay put and improving your existing home instead. However, building a new extension isn’t stress-free. Just as moving home can take months to process, so too can building an extension.  Ask yourself if you can cope with the disruption, dirt and noise of living on a building site. If not, moving to a new home might be a better bet.

Location and costs involved make a big difference when it comes to weighing up the pros and cons of moving versus extending. If a home extension gives you the right amount of space in the area that you love, then it could be worth it despite the significant financial investment.

If you are looking to make some home improvements or move home, you may find some of these services useful