It was during the Victorian era that London became the great modern city it remains today. Victorian architects gave London its charming streetscape and wealth of gracious residential terraces, popularising the use of red brick and steep, ornate gables. Yet as much as we still covet this archetypal London style, most Victorian houses lack the loftiness and openness we crave today. Fortunately, most London boroughs will allow a sympathetic extension to a Victorian house, provided it does not interfere with the original front aspect.
Scenario takes a fresh, inventive approach to expanding and revamping period properties. Founders Ran Ankory and Maya Carni, graduates of London’s Architectural Association, have built an extensive portfolio of completed residential projects throughout London, and a RIBA-chartered practice on top of the latest methods and technology. They see the city’s most diverse residential neighbourhoods as their backyard.
With more than a decade’s experience adding vaulted spaces and graceful curves to classic Victorian homes, Ran and Maya have earned their place as London architects of choice: changing the architectural landscape house by house. Their work has featured in Elle Decoration, Dezeen, Houzz and Ideal Home.
Their landmark project Scenario House, a Victorian terrace house with a double-height extension in Stoke Newington, was shortlisted for several prestigious architecture awards – including the 2018 RIBA London Awards. It demonstrates Ran and Maya’s unique, considered approach to domestic architecture.
A beautiful, highly functional home is the product of a deep understanding and precise analysis of each homeowner’s unique lifestyle. That shows in Scenario’s work. Each tailor-made extension tells the story of our clients – not ourselves.
Your Victorian extension project
Starting your Victorian Extensions project
If you’re considering an extension to a Victorian house in London, we’re here to help. We’ve created a brief illustrated overview to help you understand each stage of the process.
Most Victorian extensions require planning permission from the local council. With our successful record securing planning permission on behalf of our clients, we can claim home advantage across residential London.
TipDiscover if your chosen architect has had success steering planning applications through your local council. Visit the “planning applications” page of your council’s website and enter the architect’s name in the search criteria.
AdviceTo help you understand what it takes to obtain planning permission for a Victorian extension in London, we’ve created this helpful guide. Download it below.
Your Victorian extension project >> Scenario Architecture
Working with Scenario Architecture on your Victorian extension
Scenario Architecture is a boutique architecture studio focused on high-end residential projects in and around London. We tackle domestic projects of every scale and complexity, from Victorian extensions and refurbishments to full renovations and new-builds, through our bespoke architecture service.
Our friendly, experienced, highly skilled team can take you step-by-step through the challenge of designing your Victorian extension or renovation. We’ll collaborate closely with you from the initial drawings, detail design and planning through tender and construction to the successful completion of your project. On time and on budget.
Scenario Architecture is a RIBA Chartered Practice. We comply with the strict criteria of the Royal Institute of Chartered Architects, covering insurance, health and safety and quality-management.
Early adopters of the latest technology, we use 3D design and visualisation tools as a standard for all projects. Our experience shows that real-time visualisations and virtual reality are extremely efficient tools for choosing finishes, fixtures and fittings, and simulating natural light.
We also use 3D building information modelling (BIM) to produce reliable construction information, so all our project data comes from an accurate, coordinated 3D model. Using this cutting-edge technology collaboratively with consultants and contractors is proven to save homeowners time and money.
A Chartered Institute of Building case study featuring a Scenario project demonstrates the great benefits of this advanced technology for domestic architecture.
Your Victorian extension project >> Further reading
Victorian houses account for one sixth of all homes in the UK. And with their small kitchens and poky rooms, they’re prime candidates for expansion. Extensions to Victorian properties are some of the most common in the country, and most extensions are common practice around the country.
In some cases, an extension of only a few metres can open up a space dramatically – particularly if your design integrates the adjoining rooms. A side-return or rear extension can create an eat-in kitchen or vast great room in the place of three smaller, darker spaces. It can allow for a kitchen island or peninsula where counter space was at a premium, or clean, uncluttered walls where cupboards and uppers crowded the room. In a typical Victorian terraced house, a side-return extension has the greatest potential for transformation versus outlay.
Meanwhile, a loft conversion uses existing space by pushing out the roof to its utmost point with dormer windows. An extended loft can incorporate two small bedrooms and a bathroom, by continuing the plumbing from the first floor bathroom. Or it can create a master oasis with an en suite bathroom and enough room for a home office or dressing area.
Many Victorian homes, particularly in London and Home Counties market towns, sit in conservation areas with strict planning regulations. Applying for a Victorian extension in one of these areas can be fairly straightforward, as long as the project complies with vernacular elevations. On top of this, you’ll have to undertake a Building Regulations application to make sure your design complies with national standards in fire safety, ventilation, plumbing and structural integrity. Better architects have relationships with most building and planning commissions and will be able to tackle these responsibilities for their clients.
When you’re searching for an architect for a Victorian extension, your first point of contact should be the website – look through the architect’s past and ongoing work to make sure Victorian home extensions are in their wheelhouse. If you are a fan of period features, look to see that those have been preserved in the architect’s past work, and try to see past the furnishings and fixtures to the structural work. A great architect will design beyond the tried-and-true features of Victorian extensions carried out by design & build contractors. In a typical Victorian terrace house, there are many ways to design “out of the box” – push up ceilings to rooflights, bring in light with soaring voids and open stairwells, create private nooks and built-in furnishings – without losing the home’s period appeal.
An architect is not just a background character with a drafting board. A good architect will be present to guide you through the entire extension process and liaise with all trades and bureaucrats, from the initial drawings to moving-in day.
In our clients words
Great ideas and vision to help with our substantial improvement of a Victorian terrace. In our experience Scenario’s method prioritises the final result. That may mean more professional fees or higher quotes from contractors, as they understand the exact requirements.
Great, professional service. Good drawings and models and ultimately passed planning at the first attempt with Hackney Council. Would certainly recommend!
Scenario Architecture have created an outstanding design and space that was beyond my expectations. The design was through their unique process of understanding the client’s daily scenarios and collaborating with the client to come up with a unique design. The design process is one of the most memorable parts of the process and they also stretched my existing ideas to help create this unique space. A stress free journey throughout the whole process which Scenario were indispensable by giving advice on many difficult design and build decisions.
We wanted to renovate our house in a conservation area in central London. Given this involved a complete demolition and new build with an extra floor on top, getting planning approval was always going to be tricky. Scenario did an amazing job on the new house ‘envelope’ and throughout the planning phase. We couldn’t have wished for better from them and having succeeded in gaining planning approval owe them a very big ‘thank you’.
Scenario were great at thinking imaginatively and coming up with a design for a ground floor extension that was more ambitous than other architects we spoke to. They also helped us find a contractor who was able to complete the project working within timescale and our tight budget. I would recommend for mid to large sized projects with sufficient budget to allow for full utilisation of their creativity.
Victorian Extension Cost
Nearly any property you purchase in the southeast will retain or accrue value. When and if it turns out you need more living space, you’ll want any enhancements you make to the size of your home to enhance your asset, too.
A good architect will factor in your home’s location, layout, structural integrity and the size of your family to make your project work for you and your budget. A Victorian extension cost shouldn’t cancel out the benefits of a Victorian extension.
Unless your investment is a purpose-built flat, you should be able to gain extra space that suits your lifestyle. If you own just part of a house, you can build up, down or out, depending on your specific location. If you own the entire house, chances are better you can add substantial square metres.
In some neighbourhoods around London, loft extensions and side-return extensions (recouping the side-rear void often left open between terraced houses) are grouped under “permitted development”, which means they sometimes don’t require planning permission from the local council if the final plans heed the extended volume requirements of the area. Avoiding time-consuming planning applications will save you money in the short run.
On the topic of money: it’s always difficult to propose a Victorian extension cost without evaluating the home in question, the resident family and their plans. But it’s likely you can nearly double the size of your home’s original square-metre floor area at a fraction of the cost of the original house. Plus you will, of course, gain a nearly new living space without paying the stamp duty and agents’ fees associated with moving house – although you may need to purchase renovations insurance.
As with most building-related activity, it is wise to source three to five quotes for a Victorian extension. With a range of budgets to hand, you’ll be able to assess which seem low, high and just about right, and choose accordingly. The foundation, walls and roof will soak up about 15% of your costs, followed by Velux and rear glazing.
You’ll want to price fixtures, fittings, appliances and any upgraded materials separately, so as not to be shocked when you receive that last bill – new kitchens are particularly dear, so keep your eyes out for deals and floor sales in the months leading up to a project. Once you’ve agreed on a budget, set up a payment plan with your architect and builders that works for everyone.
The Victorian Extension Cost varies and this will depend on the scale, design, exterior materials and interior finishes of your extension. Before designing an initial concept for our clients, we discuss their big-picture aspirations and daily requirements.
When we budget the Victorian Extension Cost on any home, we must consider the different types of extensions projects. Extending upward with a loft extension, for example, is often significantly cheaper than a side-return extension and rear Victorian extension and most definitely a basement extension.
We understand our clients’ desire to understand the cost of building an extension before committing to the process. For a single-storey extension – be it a side-return extension or rear Victorian extension – we allow between £2,500 and £3,000 per square metre, depending on finishes. These figures can also apply to renovating the existing areas within a house.
Excavating a new basement is a great way to add significant floor space to your house with limited planning regulations. However the Victorian Extension Cost per square metre is, by far, the highest in a basement. We allow between £3,000 and £3,500 per square metre, subject to finishes.
- Scenario based design – We start each and every project with a meticulous analysis of our client’s vision, requirements and aspirations. We do this by asking our clients to imagine their everyday scenarios living in the completed house and describe their desired interaction with it.
- Uniquely interactive - Our client’s deep involvement in the process does not stop with completion of the brief. Our design meetings are highly interactive, informal and fun.
- Designed to reflect you – Based purely on your lifestyle, aspirations and requirements and free from externally imposed concepts, metaphors and pre-conceptions, a completely fresh and unique design will gradually emerge and it will tell your story not ours.
- Collaborative – We start the conversation with planners early and advise most of our clients to seek pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning application. Our experience shows that when properly consulted and liaised with, most planning case officers will be receptive to conduct a professional dialogue, increasing chances of successes.
- Strategic – We tailor a custom planning strategy for each project based on its circumstances such as planning history, local context and specific challenging elements. We sometimes split applications or introduce minor tweaks to the scheme during the consideration period in conversation with the officers to prevent one contentious element from jeopardising approval of the main scheme.
- Professional – Our experience shows that the quality and clarity of the submission in terms of background research, planning history of the property and context, precedent and of course the arguments presented to support the case has a tremendous effect on success rate.
- The decision period clock only starts ticking once the application is validated by the Council, This requires then to check that the forms are completed correctly and that the submission contains all the necessary drawings, statements and reports.
- Although required by law to provide a decision within the statutory eight weeks period, it is not uncommon for councils to miss the deadline of the consideration period, normally only by a few days, sometimes longer.
- In some cases the council may ask us as your agent for an extension of time, this may be requested due to internal reasons or as an acceptable result of a professional discussion that we are conducting with them about certain aspects of the application that they are not sure about.
- Our experience shows that planning officers respond better to projects when they feel consulted and collaborated with. We find that when we truly listen to their often helpful and valid feedback and treat them as consultants for the projects and not representative of an evil enforcing authority, they tend to collaborate well with us and demonstrate increased flexibility.
- Although the council in theory have eight weeks to consider your application, in practice they are constantly overloaded. They will only look at your application in the last few days of the consideration period. If this is the first time that they come across a scheme that they were never consulted about, our chance to secure permission for you in a single attempt is significantly compromised.
- The standard practice is for the council to consider the full planning application as submitted and then issue a yes or no decision. Case officers are not required or even encouraged to enter a discussion with us or accept resubmission of minor changes to the proposed scheme during the consideration period.