Home extensions are quickly becoming the favourite form of a home improvement project for most homeowners; and no wonder. They allow you to expand, design, and create wonderful additions to your home, without the hassle of moving houses. 

But not all homeowners have the space for an extension. 

This is what makes side return extensions the first and ideal choice for homeowners who want to extend, but do not have the space, time, or budget for an elaborate extension. This is because the design of side return extensions allows homeowners to have a taste (and benefit) of added living space, without the cost or inconvenience of a major construction project.

Want to know more? Read on below!

What exactly is a side return extension?

A side return is actually a narrow strip of land that is found along the side of most terraced and semi-detached properties. Home extensions built on this space are therefore referred to as side return extensions.

Why are side return extensions so valued and in demand?

Side return extensions are one of the most popular types of extensions built, particularly on Victorian and Edwardian properties. And for good reason. 

Some of the many benefits of building a side return extension include:

1. They make excellent use of unused or ill-utilised space

Side returns are notorious for being dumping grounds for old bicycles, bins, and other unwanted knick-knacks. Utilising this space to instead expand your home and create wonderful additional living space is probably the smartest move that you can make to optimise the functionality of this area.


2. They do not need much space

Another key factor that makes side return extensions so valued and appreciated by homeowners is that these relatively narrow strips of land are essentially all that is required to construct impressive extensions. In this way you are not using up any valuable garden space but still getting the expansion of living space you crave.

3. They increase the amount of natural light that enters your home

Because most side return extension designs include glazing and even bi-folding doors that open up to the outdoors, this type of extension provides immense potential to increase the amount of natural light that enters your home. 

This aspect in itself provides multiple benefits such as daylighting (which allows you to reduce your energy consumption), as well as the aesthetic value of creating beautiful indoor-outdoor connections.

Install skylights everywhere possible

4. They add incredible value to your property

Like most extensions, when done right, side return extensions add great value to your property. This is particularly important if you are hoping to resell in the future.

Most experts agree that a single-storey side return extension can increase the value of your property by up to 12%. Of course, this is also dependent on their design and function. Which brings us to…

5. They are extremely versatile in their design and use

Side return extensions can be constructed and used in multiple ways. Some of the ways in which a side return extension may be built are as a:

  • Single storey extension 
  • Double storey extension
  • Glazed extension
  • Part of a rear/ wraparound extension 

And they are just as flexible in their function as in their build. Some of the ways in which side return extensions may be utilised include:

  • As a kitchen extension
  • An alfresco-style dining area
  • An extension of the living room 
  • Open plan/ multi-functional living space
  • A home office
  • A playroom, etc.

In reality, the possibilities for the design and function of a side return extension are essentially endless and may only be limited by your imagination.

Things to consider when building a side return extension:

Hire the right people!

As with any build project, there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration before initiating the construction work. These include:

  • Approvals and legal requirements

While most side return extensions may be constructed without the need for planning permission (provided they fall within the criteria of permitted developments), building regulations approval and party wall agreements are important considerations that must be secured before initiating the build work. This not only ensures that the extension meets the building guidelines and standards but also prevents any legal disputes in the future.

  • Professional help

To get the most out of your extension, it is best to resist the temptation of DIYing this project and calling in the experts. Why? Because the advantages they offer far outweigh the cost of hiring them.

Not only do they help design an extension that makes the most of the space available, while enabling you to stick to a specific budget and timeline; but through their expertise and experience, you can be sure to avoid the many mistakes and errors that would prove costly in the long run.


Side return extensions may, quite simply, be the best thing for your home. 

Requiring a minimum of space, time, and money, they can be designed to create incredible spaces that add incredible style and value to your home. 

Itching to get started on your dream build? Contact us at Good Design and Build now!

We pride ourselves in offering you a complete solution, from design to build. See our recently completed side return extension projects, get inspired, and start your dream home journey with us today!

Author: Amol

Amol is an architectural designer and has worked on hundreds of residential projects in London since 2008.Having done his M.Arch from the Glasgow School of Arts he gained valuable experience in London working in the construction industry managing high-end residential projects, before founding Good Design and Build in 2015.You will meet him for initial consultation and work closely with him during all stages of your project