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Our neighbour is undertaking a two storey side and back extension to his BISF. My questions are: he will be removing the entire back wall of the downstairs to extend his kitchen and also create a hole in the front corner (near front door) to make a hallway effectively in the side of the house – is that possible? Or would there be issues with the support steels? His first floor apertures into the extension appear to be where the windows currently are so assume this would not affect structure. We have only ever seen 1st floor extensions and therefore thought 2 storeys not possible? It has led to interesting conversations as to what is possible…

Also, if anyone has undertaken such extensions to their BISF, is it worth it? ie does it make back the cost of the build on the value of the house?

Many thanks!

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he will be removing the entire back wall of the downstairs to extend
his kitchen and also create a hole in the front corner (near front
door) to make a hallway effectively in the side of the house – is that
possible? Or would there be issues with the support steels?

It sounds as though your neighbour is attempting to undertake a pretty complex build here and I trust that he has employed the services of a structural engineer who is familiar with the BISF frame and construction.

I also understand that there will most likely be substantial input from building control regarding what can and cannot be removed in relation to the existing structure. However certain planning officers have different views and ideas in relation to removing stanchions as some state that no vertical supports can be removed and that any doorways leading into any new extension must be made within the existing vertical beams.

An example of this would be a in two storey side extension where access to the upper level would be made by turning the landing window into a doorway, or creating a new doorway between existing the stanchions on the side wall of the bathroom as some BISF layouts have a bathroom window here as opposed to on the back wall as seen in most layouts.

Lets make one point absolutely clear. The BISF House was never designed to be extended, This is not to say that it can’t be extended, but all extensions must be free standing and self supporting and not place any additional weight onto the existing BISF frame.

I have seen many successful two storey BISF extensions but I have not witnessed the build process nor am I in any way a structural engineer and I can only speak from my own experiences of visiting such builds.

Caution should be taken when any stanchions or corner bracing are removed and the area must receive suitable replacement support in line with current building regulations, however I have never heard of the entire back wall being removed and this alone would cause me considerable concern. There is no problem in removed the cladding and render of the back wall but removal of the actual support structure would, in my view pose many risks which could also affect the adjoining property if any structural failure occurs as a result.

I would suggest visiting your local authorities online planning portal which should list the planning application itself, where you should be able to see the plans online. Do you have the postcode for this property?

As for cost versus value, I would always be cautious in overspending on a BISF property as most non standard properties have a ceiling price, dependant on the value of the local housing market, which is typically around 10% less than a standard brick constructed property of similar capacity.
Adding an extra bedroom will definitely increase the resale value however I have seen simple garage to bedroom conversions achieving the highest rewards compare to outlay.
However, if the extension was taking place in London and the property was being converted into a five bedroom house, then I would think that the conversion costs would easily be recouped.

In short though, if I was living next door to this conversion, I would want to be 100% satisfied that all alterations were being carried out by a competent builder under the guidance of a structural engineer and with the approval of planning and building reg officers.

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