This extension by Sam Tisdall Architects is clad with glass-reinforced concrete panels from Gray Concrete. Each panel is bespoke and made by hand. The cost was around £350 per m² fitted
1. Introduce concrete
Usually a finish used on non-residential buildings, concrete can make for an arresting exterior cladding on a home. It’s available in a variety of colours, as well as offering different textures, and can be given a number of finishes through polishing.
Best for… a contemporary look, it can be combined with other exterior materials.
Be aware of… making a statement when you don’t want to — work with an experienced architectural designer to ensure success.
Costs… can be high – from £800 per m2 — so it’s not widely used for homeowner projects.
2. Clad it with brick slips
These homes are clad in Priory Weathered Red slips, with accent Staffordshire Blue Brindle Smooth slips, laid over insulation board. From Ibstock’s Brickshield system, which is priced from £110 per m², including materials and labour
Ideal for restoring lost character or concealing an ugly finish, brick slips look like conventional bricks, but are either specially made tiles or cut from the faces of bricks. There are thermally insulated systems on offer, too, so you can make your home more energy-efficient at the same time.
There’s a wide choice of colours, sizes and textures, including rustic styles, as well as stone. You may not need planning permission unless you live in a listed building or a designated area.
Best for… adding warmth; giving a house back its period style.
Be aware of… creating a finish unsympathetic to the local area.
Costs… from around £45 per square metre.
3. Render the walls
Contractor Skyline Construction used Wetherby Building System’s insulated render system in white, supplied as trade, for this house
If the outside of your home is covered in old-fashioned pebbledash, has mismatching materials, or is simply looking dated, rendering the walls is a good solution. As well as radically changing a property’s overall appearance, render can create the opportunity to make the structure more energy-efficient by teaming it with insulation.
Options include sand and cement render, lime render (ideal for period and timber-framed buildings), or modern polymer-based formulas. Render can have a variety of textures and be painted or come in a through-coloured finish.
You can usually carry out the work without the need to apply for planning permission, but be aware that this isn’t the case in Conservation Areas, and some other designated areas. Listed buildings will need consent for the work. Always check with your local authority.
Best for… houses with attractive shapes — it’s just the exterior finish that’s letting them down.
Be aware of… damaged external walls — these must be fixed first. Most houses built before 1914 have solid walls, so the render must allow them to breathe.
Costs… from around £40 per square metre for sand and cement render; for insulation and render, factor in from around £70 per square metre.
4. Update roof coverings
Architect Your Home built dormer extensions to add interest to these 1950s semi-detached houses, which once had a huge plain roof. The yellow brickwork was also rendered over, windows replaced and porches added
An unattractive roof can negatively impact the overall look of a home, but replacing 1960s and 1970s concrete tiles, or an unsympathetic material on a period property, is a relatively easy project.
Changing tiles is usually allowed under permitted development, but you’ll probably have to improve the insulation. At greater expense, the shape of the roof can be altered, which may need planning permission,.
Best for… mid-to-late-20th-century homes, especially with flat or low-pitched roofs.
Be aware of… altering the character of period homes.
Costs… £10,000 to £15,000 for a new roof covering; replacing a low-pitched roof with a habitable roof would cost from £30,000.
5. Add warmth with wood
Cedral weatherboard from Marley Eternit is a fibre-cement cladding that looks like timber, but the only care needed is an annual hosing down. It comes in a choice of 23 colours, and can be installed over rigid insulation to thermally upgrade a house. From £29 per m²
Both real wood and clever man-made lookalikes can give a house a traditional UK vernacular style or a New England look, or be used for a more contemporary appearance. You can choose from inexpensive softwoods, such as larch, which can be painted or stained and will need maintenance, or more expensive but lower-maintenance hardwoods, such as oak or cedar, or manmade boards.
As with rendering, you will need consent for listed building work, and planning permission may be required depending on where you live, so talk to the planners at your local authority.
Best for… properties that have lost their original style along the way or have a dated appearance.
Be aware of… homes with a local or period character that doesn’t include timber cladding — making yours the odd one out can affect its appeal when you come to sell.
Costs… from around £25 per square metre for timber lookalikes; natural oak starts from around £60 per square metre.
6. Replace the windows
Windows with glazing bars can add character to a new-build home, and help it blend more sympathetically with other local properties. These cottage-bar casement softwood windows cost from £409 at Jeld-Wen
The style and material of your windows has a huge impact, so swapping them can be a relatively easy way to lift your home’s image and perhaps put back character that’s been removed by inappropriate replacement in the past.
Unless you live in a listed building or designated area, you won’t usually need to apply for planning permission to change your doors and windows. In a Conservation Area subject to an Article 4 Direction on certain permitted development rights, you will need consent for all but like-for-like replacement. Contact your local authority to check.
Best for… bringing character to a relatively new house; restoring character to a period property with unsympathetic windows.
Be aware of… changing the historic style of a period house.
Costs… around £4,500 for the supply of timber designs to replace all the windows in an average three-bedroom house.
7. Mix and match materials
Render covers the old mishmash of cladding materials and gives the house a more substantial look. It’s offset against warm timber cladding
Hugo and Jude Tugman, founders of Architect Your Home, wanted to transform their own home into a striking, contemporary piece of architecture, but to avoid a flimsy, lightweight look. They extended the house to the rear and side on the ground floor, and added a box dormer to the front and back of the original roof, which effectively created a new second floor.
Prior to the transformation, the postwar house was finished in a mix of greying pebbledash, stone cladding and brickwork, and had unattractive uPVC windows, plus a mismatched porch
Self-coloured acrylic insulating render was used together with western red cedar cladding to give the impression of the house as a timber box breaking out from a box of solid masonry. Large windows were positioned to bring in generous daylight where it was required, as well as to create attractive external elevations.
What it cost: To achieve a similar transformation, including building work and finishes inside and out, would cost around £420,000.
8. Make a statement
A two-storey extension with cantilevered upper floor and brickwork that complements the original house has completed transformed this home
In maximising the floorplan and creating large open spaces with maximum light in this north London home, Lipton Plant Architects radically changed its appearance and relationship to its corner plot and the neighbouring houses. The architects designed a two-storey cantilevered extension to the front in white stock brick with a weathered tint, which repeats the neighbours’ pattern in a different colour.
Situated on a corner with a garage in front, the semi-detached property was undistinguished
The windows feature slim glazing bars to maximise the glass area. The lower section of the extension runs parallel with the neighbour on the right, while the top section is parallel with the Victorian house on the left.
What it cost: A similar project would cost around £2,500 per square metre.
9. Create a glass focal point
A central extension changed the appearance of a symmetrical home that lacked a focal point. It has also created a better link to the garden
The owners of this Staffordshire home wanted a structure that would draw the eye to the exterior of their home as an architectural feature in its own right, as well as creating more internal space. The central extension, designed by Apropos, was constructed with brickwork to match the original house.
Its tall apex roof is eye-catching and introduces more light to the property’s interior. The addition also draws attention to the house’s elegant symmetry.
10. Build an extension
The rear of the house has been given a contemporary look, creating a distinct contrast with the traditional style of the front of the property. New landscaping aids the link between house and garden
The couple who own this south London home asked Granit Architects to give the rear façade a contemporary appearance as part of their whole-house renovation. The property was extended on both sides and the whole exterior was rendered. It improves the building’s thermal efficiency and, in a pale finish, helps to reflect natural light in the north-facing garden as well as looking clean and modern.
Before the work, the house was dilapidated and the interior spaces were cut off from the overgrown garden
Powder-coated aluminium windows and glazed doors complement the modern design, and the creation of picture windows for the kitchen and dining room provide good views across the garden, while on the first floor a new larger offset window replaces a traditional centrally positioned sash to balance the ground-floor glazing.
What it cost: To achieve a similar transformation would cost around £210,000, including all construction, materials and the kitchen.