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Is It Better To Move House Or Extend?

Martha Lott
Written by Martha Lott
14th November 2019 (Last updated on Tuesday 26th November 2019)

There are many reasons for needing more space in your house. Maybe your growing family needs room for new arrivals and visiting friends or perhaps your expanding home business needs a new office. Whatever your reasons, there’s much to consider before choosing the next step. 

Deciding which is more financially beneficial, moving house or extending, can be tough. Of course, the decision will already be answered if you live in a flat and need more space, or you decide to move closer to schools, work or family, but the house removal costs will affect your decision. You should compare removal quotes to get the best deal if you decide to move house to help stretch your budget and perhaps allow for future work to be done.

An extension will help add value to your home as well as creating space, but again, the cost needs to be thoroughly thought through. It’s important to know which option will benefit you the most, so we’ve put together this guide to help you weigh up the pros and cons to make the decision easier for you and your personal requirements.

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This article will cover the following points

Which Do Brits Believe Is Better - Moving House or Extending? Is It Better To Extend? Which Home Extensions Are Worth It? Changes in Permitted Development Rights Is It Better To Move Home? Save Time and Money on Your Move

Which Do Brits Believe Is Better - Moving House or Extending?

According to data by TSB Bank, two in five homeowners would rather build an extension than move house. In May 2019, Permitted Development Rights were subject to new regulations, altering planning laws (we will briefly discuss this further in the article). TSB’s research discovered the public’s opinion on these new laws and whether or not it would affect people’s decision to extend.  

Despite almost 80% of Brits believing that the new planning laws would cause more disputes amongst neighbours, 41% of homeowners would still choose to extend rather than move house. As a result of this change in law, 19% of homeowners are now more likely to build a rear extension in the next 3 years due to the new laws allowing the right to build larger rear single-storey extensions.

41% Would Rather Extend


Interestingly, 35% of those wishing to extend stated that they would go as far as remortgaging their house in order to afford the extension. Refurbishing and extending properties have been slowly growing in popularity and this research confirms that it’s still a major consideration for many British homeowners.  

For those who would prefer to extend rather than move, the main reasons for their decision were their attachment to their current home (50%), the cost of moving being too expensive (49%) and also the locality being better than elsewhere (25%). Clearly, the cost of moving house is a major issue for homeowners and is a major reason for many Brits choosing to extend.

35% Would Remortgage

TSB’s Head of Mortgages, Nick Smith, stated that “It’s no surprise that homeowners cite the cost of moving as one of the biggest barriers to affording a new home or moving up the property ladder. Building an extension is a great way to add extra space without having to undertake the additional costs such as stamp duty and legal fees.” 

Considering the benefits of extending properties, James Ginley FRICS, Technical Director, Legal & General Surveying Services, said: “Where space is at a premium quite simply adding floor area adds value. However, good design, layout and functionality of homes is increasingly important. Home buyers want the space but tasteful extensions and modern open plan living areas offered by extensions are value-generating.”

19% Would Extend in 3 Years


UK Home Extension Hotspots

Research conducted in 2018 by online architectural platform, Resi.co.uk, revealed the top 10 home extension hotspots in cities throughout the UK. Number one was secured by East Dulwich in South London, where homeowners were up to 51 times more likely to consider a home extension compared to the average Brit. 

England’s capital held the top spots for the majority of the data provided, with the top five cities being located within London. Walthamstow and Barking in East London were second and third on the list with those from Walthamstow being 31 times more likely to extend. In Barking, they were only 6 times more likely. With the average house price in London currently at £470,930, it makes sense that locals would choose to extend even now in 2019, rather than save for the move. 

Resi’s data analysed a sample of over 10,000 nationwide enquiries to the website throughout the years of 2016-2018. Over half of the enquiries had looked at extending their ground floor to add a kitchen or entertainment space, whilst over a quarter considered a two-storey conversion. Only around 10% of people were looking to add space to their loft.

Is It Better To Extend?

Generally, extending your home will be a cost-effective investment that will pay back on itself when you eventually sell – but not always. The location and demand of your property will usually guarantee that your extension will add value to your home when it comes to selling. For example, it’s often financially feasible to add a basement in a London property due to high demand and property prices, whereas this might not be the best idea in other regions of the UK.

That said, extending in some form or another is often a more sensible approach from a financial perspective. Building costs for an extension depend vastly on location, size and the type of build you will be planning.

Cost of Extending A House

These are the average costs for a single-storey extension in the UK, not including VAT. These prices will vary depending on size, location and extra services. 

Extension ServicePrice 
Extension Per Square Metre£1,500 - £2,000
Planning Permission£190 - £206
Property Survey Starting at £400
Architect Fees(Between 3-10% of extension cost) Minimum of £2,700 to £4,000
Building Regulation ChecksUsually 10% of extension cost 


Before work even begins, you will need to gain planning permission unless your extension is single-storey that does not extend more than 3 metres away from the original property. This will cost between £190-£206 depending on extension size and location. According to Homebuilding & Renovating, for an application for an extension in England, the cost is currently £206. However, this price differs throughout the rest of the UK, with an application in Wales costing £190. 

Don’t forget that when planning an extension on a house, you have to include the cost of the plans for said extension. You may either choose to hire a professional architect or architectural technician to draw up plans for your chosen builders or you could simply hire a firm to design and build your extension all in one. These architectural drawings can cost an average of around £500-£1,000, depending on the scale of the job, the details of the extension and also the company you’re working with.

The average cost of a single-storey extension can range from anywhere between £1,500 - £2,000 plus VAT per square metre. On top of that, you may be expected to pay anywhere between 3-10% of the building costs on fees for architects, structural engineers, building regulation checks and planning permission, if required. This price will vary greatly depending on the overall quality of work, the location of the property and also the company you use. 

The cost of extending your house could increase slightly further if you decide on a two-storey extension. For a good quality extension, the average cost will increase to £1,800-£2,500 per square metre or possibly more (again, not including VAT).

The Verdict 

While moving house can take a while to process, so too can extending on your property. Your home will temporarily become a building site until completion, which will most likely be stressful for yourself, as well as your children and any pets you might have. Equally, you may have to deal with extra costs as you wait for completion if you have to move out during the period of the build.

However, extending on your current property is an extremely feasible option that is cost-effective, saving you from going through the house buying and selling process. But always keep in mind that you may not make your money back from this investment and it may not always be suitable if you’re not planning to stay at your property for the foreseeable future.

Which Home Extensions Are Worth It?

There are many types of extensions that you could add to improve your home. However, it’s important to know which would be worth the money and effort before you start spending your entire budget. To help you decide which extension would be the best fit for you and your home, we’ve created a list of some of the extensions that are more likely to increase the value of your property. 

Keep in mind that each extension varies depending on the quality of work completed, but the best extensions to consider before planning are:

Single-Storey Extension 

If you’re looking to add extra living space to your home, then a single-storey extension is the perfect fit for you. From rear extensions to side return extensions, there are a few sub-categories involved for you to look through to help you find the perfect plan for you. This type of extension is particularly suitable for those with a growing family who are looking for extra space. 

The average cost of a single-storey extension can range from anywhere between £1,500 - £2,000 plus VAT per square metre. Single-storey extensions can cater to a variety of budget types as the smaller the plan, the less it will cost. This seems like a sufficient cost to extend a room or hallway and give your home the well-needed space you’re looking for. It could add between 5%-10% to the value of your home.

If you’re looking for even more space, then consider getting a double-storey extension as this can then increase the value of your home by as much as 20%, but obviously, it will cost a lot more to complete. 

Loft Conversion

One of the most popular extension types is a loft conversion. It’s one of the least disruptive extensions, ensuring that you and your family are provided with the necessary added space without the chaotic disturbance that often comes with building work. 

Loft conversions are also one of the most inexpensive ways to add space and value to your home. Whether you’re adding a bedroom, bathroom or both by converting your loft, the value of your home could increase by 12.5% by having this work done. Depending on where you live and the company you hire, you could expect a cost of around £1,000 per square metre.

Conservatory 

Conservatories have become an incredibly popular extension throughout the UK, helping homeowners enjoy their garden without the dreaded British weather putting a damper on their evening. They can be a fairly cheap type of extension, costing around £5,000 in total, depending on the size. They are also fairly easy to install and can add as much as 5%-7% value onto your property. 

Kitchen Extension

Like bathroom extensions, kitchen extensions can be more complicated than other extension types. So the questions is, are kitchen extensions worth it? You have to consider the plumbing involved with a kitchen extension and how the work needs to be expertly done. It can be worth the budget and the work but it does have to be done right. 

A kitchen extension can be extremely costly, averaging between £1,260 and £1,680 per square metre depending on the size of your property. When done right, it can add a lot of value to your property, but you really have to think about the plans and budget so that the necessary work is completed to the highest of standards. 

Any of the above types of extensions can be used to add enough space to extend your kitchen, so don’t forget to compare plans and find the one that best fits you and your requirements. 

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Changes in Permitted Development Rights

Depending on what work you’re planning to have done, you may or may not need planning permission. If you do not need planning permission, then permitted development comes into play. 

In May 2019, Permitted Development Rights were subject to new regulations, altering the planning laws in the UK. The main change that connects to extending a property, is the new order that states that the regulations now make the right to build larger, rear single-storey extensions permanent. This means that homeowners can now build larger extensions, subject to the approval process, without worrying that their provision will expire. 

For more information, it’s advised that you read the government’s explanation of permitted development for homeowners here, so that you’re aware of what work is allowed and what is not.

Do I Have Permitted Development Rights?

If you do not need planning permission, then your permitted development rights come into play. However, it’s important to be aware that any space added by previous owners of the house since 1948 counts towards your allocation.

Below are the most common situations where you will most likely not have permitted development rights or have restricted rights:

  • If you live in a Designated Area like a National Park, Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • If you’re self-building a new project where the proposed plans are bigger than the existing property 
  • If you live in a flat or maisonette 

Other than these situations, you will most likely have permitted development rights but it’s always recommended that you conduct thorough research before beginning work and talk to your local authority. 

Is It Better To Move Home?

As mentioned above, building an extension can be extremely tiring and may burn a hole in your pocket as costs and fees will have to be paid throughout the process. Most regions and properties will allow you to make your money back on an extension, but some renovations may devalue your home.

Moving house is the other option if you require more living space. Moving house is a more viable option, and worthwhile if you do not want to commit to staying in a property for the long-term.

Cost of Moving House

If you decide to go against an extension, there are many costs of moving house to consider. The moving house costs below are based on buying and selling the average UK property, at a price of £234,853 as of August 2019 (UK House Price Index). Please note all prices vary depending on location, house type and size.

Moving House ServicePrice
Average House Deposit£32,841
Property Survey£400
Conveyancing£1,080
Estate Agents£3,335
Average Removal Company Cost£1,181


The main cost you'll be hit with is the deposit for your house. In February 2019, Halifax discovered that the average deposit is currently around £32,841 in the UK, particularly for first-time buyers. However, depending on whether you pay a 5% or 20% deposit, you could be paying upwards of £46,970.60 for the average house price of £234,853 that we previously mentioned above.  

On top of this, you will also have to pay for a property survey starting from around £400, conveyancing fees which averagely cost £1,080, estate agents fees of around £3,335 depending on the price of the house and the removal company which averages at £1,181.  

It’s also important to remember that you also have to calculate stamp duty when considering the overall cost of moving house. Stamp duty varies depending on where you are in the UK, but it is simply an added fee to pay when purchasing a house over a certain price. In England and Northern Ireland, you must pay stamp duty on properties worth more than £125,000. However, in Scotland and Wales, there are similar taxes to be paid but with slightly different rates and bands.  

If we use the example of an average house priced at £234,853, then in England and Northern Ireland you would have to pay a rate of 2%. In Wales, stamp duty is replaced with a Land Transaction Tax where you would have to pay an added rate of 3.5%. Scotland has a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax instead of stamp duty, where, for the average mentioned above, you would have to pay an added rate of 2%.

The Verdict

Moving is a stressful time and uprooting your family from friends and familiar areas could be detrimental in the long term, as well as the difficulty of funding the costs. However, moving within your current local area to a larger property will be easier on your family. Use our free moving house checklist to ensure a stress-free moving experience.

Save Time and Money on Your Move

There is no set answer to whether it is better to move house or extend on your current property, as it will depend on individual situations. Extending may seem like the easier option at times but will still be disruptive to your family’s living and may not be as cost effective in certain regions.

Likewise, moving house will save your current property from turning into a building site but could cost thousands on top of the property costs. If you do decide to move house, make sure to compare removal companies with us, we'll connect you with up to 6 trusted and verified removal companies in your area.