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What is a side return extension? 

An extension built on the pathway that runs alongside the ground floor of your home, is known as a side return extension. A side return extension is a brilliant way to utilise that narrow strip of land, which is usually only reserved for bins, bikes and outdoor equipment. 


The extension itself tends to be built in the kitchen area or at the back of the house. This transformation is especially popular for those who are looking to increase and improve the quality of their living space in terraced and semi-detached houses. 

Do you need planning permission for a side return extension? 

Generally, you do not need planning permission for a side return extension, as they quite often come within permitted development. Although to make sure this is the case, it is important that you follow the relevant criteria when building your side return extension. These include, ensuring that your side return extension does not exceed more than four metres high. This type of extension can only be a single storey, while it must be no more than half the width of the original house. 

How long does a side return extension take? 

After getting any necessary permission, you can expect the building of your side return extension to take between three to four months. Within this timeframe, the actual build should be completed as well as the kitchen, doors and interior finishes.  

It is possible that a side return extension can be carried out quicker than the allocated time. However, this is providing the building process evolves smoothly, meaning that there are no problems or delays. Therefore, it is best to remain realistic with your expectations, so that you are not left disappointed.  

How do you maximise light in a side return extension? 

As a side return extension joins on to a wall, there is no allocated space for a window where you would have previously had it. That means it could become somewhat of a struggle to get enough natural light into the extension.


The cheapest option is to add several skylights, although for more of a modern look you can choose between either glazed ceiling panels or floor to ceiling windows.  

While, your window selection will certainly determine how much natural light gets in, there are numerous other ways you can stop your extensions from appearing too dark. Alongside, keeping the extension open plan all the way through to the hall, having light walls and flooring will automatically brighten the space.  

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