Project Location : Birtley, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

Project Description: Rear and Side Extension

Lead Architect: Robbie Evans

Planning permission approved in Birtley, Gateshead. Before Photo.


Planning permission approved in Birtley, Gateshead. After Photo.


We are delighted that Planning Permission has been granted on this large rear and side extension to this detached property in Birtley.

The original layout of the property has small individual rooms, which don’t suit the modern-day, open plan living that many of us dream of. Our beautifully designed, modern rear extension (architect Robbie Evans lead the design team on this project) will create a large kitchen and dining space with an existing backroom turned into a cosy snug room with log burner. To the side of the property, an existing side passage between the house and the detached garage is to become enclosed to create a large utility space with glazing that enables you to see through the property.

Planning permission approved in Birtley, Gateshead. Second Before Photo.


Planning permission approved in Birtley, Gateshead. Second After Photo.


The extension is designed to create a modern, ergonomic living experience paired with a contemporary exterior finish. Rendered in white with simple details, clean lines and dark grey framed aluminium windows and doors, this extension will create a minimalist and monochromatic feel.

This new extension will improve the way the clients live and socialise; both as a family and with friends… creating a home for life.
Original Floor Plan for Britley Home Conversion

Original Floor Plan

Final Floor Plan for Birtley Home Extension

Final Floor Plan

Needs and Options Review

Birtley Ground Floor Original Plan

Original Floor Plan

Birtley Proposal 1
Birtley Proposal 2
Birtley Proposal 3
Birtley Proposal 4
Birtley Proposal 5
Birtley Proposal 6


Proposed Floor Plans

For this project we initially came up with a number of alternative layouts for this house extension. Please use the slider to see the various options we explored. When developing these design options, we consider: the budget, the relevant planning constraints, the client’s taste, the priorities for the space and how the client wishes to use their new space. It is then in the hands of our clients to decide which option they would like to run with together. We can then get into the finer details and develop the design to ensure it is absolutely perfect for our client.


We always start any project by exploring different design and layout options so that our clients can make an informed decision on their home extension design before beginning the build.



At Acre Design, we often find that when our clients are building a self-build home, home extension or renovation, the garden design is left until last. You probably have a long list of things to plan and consider including: bathrooms, kitchens, materials, fixtures and fittings, furniture and so on. However, with even the smallest budget, spending wisely on your garden can have a huge impact on your satisfactions with your project as whole. A well thought out garden space can also have a big impact on the value of your home, so it is well worth considering! Even if you plan on carrying out the gardening and landscaping work yourself, developing a plan early on will be beneficial.

When you begin your project, you will have an idea of the funds you have available to spend. We recommending allocating some of your budget to the garden space at the start of your project. Who wants large, beautiful bi-fold doors if the scenery beyond them is a disaster?

Practical considerations

If you’re a self-builder, this is a really advantageous position to be in, in terms of landscaping. However, you may also come across a few challenges here. You’ll need to consider: access, driveways, garages, and storage, as well as the normal garden wants. If your budget is limited, you may consider focusing your budget on permanent fixtures such as access and your driveway. Greenery, turf and landscaping can always be completed in the future, once your budget has replenished a little. You may be surprised to learn that a well-built driveway can cost around £20,000.

If you are building an extension to your home, you will need to consider how to maintain privacy in your new space. Will any new windows be more visible to your neighbours? Do you need to think about screening off?

Planting early on is a good idea if you wish to use hedges and plants for privacy or protection from the elements (as a windbreak perhaps). Most hedges can take around 5 years to grow to their full height and provide the desired screening effect. It is also far more cost effective and easy to purchase and plant younger, smaller plants than it is to purchase and plant established, larger hedges and plants. Mature plants are readily available to purchase, however the cost of this is significantly more than a young plant or seed.

Fences are a great, short term, cheap and easy option for your boundaries but they can lack kerb appeal. Brick and stone walls can cost upwards of £300 a metre. Therefore, fencing and hedgerows can be a very cost-effective solution. Also, studies show that looking at greenery and plants boosts our mood. Good garden design is good for your health too!


Budgeting for the highest quality that you can afford for your garage, shed or driveway is a good idea. These elements will all add to the value and overall aesthetics of your home. Thinking of your project as a whole plot is key – you want to feel delighted every time you pull onto your driveway in front of your beautiful new home, for example. You may think that your front door and hallway will give that all important first impression. It is more likely to be the overall appearance of your home from the outside that will impress you, your family and friends and even perspective buyers in the future.

Utilise your existing garden design

If you have some garden items in place already, it is worth working these in to your plans to save money and effort. You can then spend your budget on other upgrades! Often, when you extend your home it can be disruptive to your garden. The building work can take its toll on plants and grass and the new structure can disturb the layout somewhat. If there are some plants you know you would like to keep, make sure you protect these during the build. You could even move them out of the way where possible. Working alongside your project design, you could plan pathways and terraces that flow from and to your new extension.

Lastly, research suggests that a well-designed garden can add up to 20% to the value of your home! consider your garden as a long term investment, one for your enjoyment and for future financial gain.

We hope that you find this information helpful, at Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things design and would love to discuss your project with you in detail.

Take a look at our recent projects for further inspiration! Get in touch to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your home

Wastewater Heat Recovery System


Thankfully, as a country we are becoming more and more environmentally conscious. As we know, it is critical to protect the environment so as to reduce the destruction of eco-systems. It is more of a moral obligation for humans to protect the environment from pollution and other activities that lead to environmental degradation.

Excitingly, lots of manufacturers now produce approved equipment that effectively recovers heat from your hot water before it runs away down your drain. This saves us both energy and money – a winning combination. None of us want to waste money. Certainly, most of us do not want to waste energy and will look for ways to be ‘greener’ wherever possible. When we take a bath or shower or use appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines, the hot water waste simple goes down our drain.

How does the system work?

A heat exchanger pipe is used inside the the waste water pipe. The heat eaxchanger pipe has cold water running through it. This could be installed under the shower tray, for example. Inside the heat exchanger pipe, the cold water will collect some of the heat from the waste warm water. This warmed up water then takes less energy to heat than it would had it been heated from cold. Your preheated water can be sent to your hot water cylinder, or it can be sent directly to the cold water feed on your mixer tap.

The devices are typically around 60% efficient, so they convert 60% of the potential energy in the waste water back into heat for the incoming water. This can save you money on your bills, especially if you use a lot of hot water in your home.

If your system is being used for bath water or for your washing machine or dishwasher, the process is a little different. In this instance, a storage vessel is required to hold the the warm water until the cold water runs through it to collect the heat. Though these systems can be less efficient than the exchanger pipe system, it will still have an impact. Unfortunately, they can often take up a bit of room (storing the waste water) too.

How is it installed?

Most wastewater heat recovery (WWHR) units are about 80mm thick, one metre long and simply look like thick pipes. Suiting an upstairs bathroom, they plumb in vertically. Alternatively, Showersave produce horizontal units which are suited to ground floor showers as they sit inside the shower tray and capture the warm water as it enters the drain. Installing a WWHR in your shower is a great place to start as the you generally have a pretty consistent stream of waste warm water.

What’s the cost?

At a cost of upwards of around £400 plus installation costs, they’re not the cheapest bits of kit. However, these systems have no running maintenance costs. The impact on your energy bill won’t be gigantic, however, the impact using less energy will have on our environment is important. In an average household, you could expect to save around £20-30 a year on your energy bill. Of course, if you use a lot of hot water, it can begin to look a lot more attractive. For hotels or other businesses that use an awful lot of hot water, it could be a great investment too.

Is it worth retrofitting one of these?

If you are not building a new extension or self-build and not renovating your bathroom or kitchen, is it worth retrofitting this equipment in your home anyway? In some cases retrofitting may be possible, but the bulk and length of the recovery device means that most showers or baths wouldn’t be suitable. It is much easier to get it installed when you are fitting a new bathroom.

Interesting fact: Most people believe having a shower is more energy efficient than having a bath. However, an eight minute power shower uses 136 litres of water, whereas the average bath uses just 80 litres in comparison. 

The Team @ Acre Design hope we have given you some food for thought! Please check out or latest projects if you’d like to see more of what we’re made of. Our InstagramPinterest and Facebook pages are all brimming with extension, loft conversion and self-build inspiration too!

Please contact us if you would like to arrange a free design consultation

How to choose the right fireplace for your home extension

Why do we love a fireplace?

More and more of our clients are opting for a striking fireplace or hearth. Our post on inspiring design ideas  discusses the idea of Hygee. If you haven’t already read about the Danish idea of Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”), get reading. What freedom is to Americans, Hygge is to the Danes. The idea of Hygge is about finding joy in simple, cosy things. These things include: candles, blankets, fireplaces and so on. There is even a word for that favourite pair of jogging bottoms that you would only wear in the comfort of your own home – “Hyggebusker”. To us, a crackling fire is the epitome of cosy calm. Our busy lives can impact on our health, so planning spaces which invigorate and recharge us both mentally and physically is important.

With so many styles and fuel options to choose from, how do you know which to pick?

Firstly, the fireplace needs to be suitable for your property. Secondly, you need to decide upon its primary function – heat, aesthetics. Or do you need both of these needs to be met?


Wood burners and open-flame fires will, of course, require a chimney or flue. Wood burners are very efficient and are currently very fashionable. Obviously, real fires will require some level of maintenance (cleaning out etc.) but some even have built in boilers enabling you to heat your water and radiators too! Check with your local council before getting your heart set on a real fire. Some areas are smoke-controlled and burning wood and coal is not permitted.

You can find information on Newcastle Council’s smoke-control policy here. If you are in North Tyneside, have a look here, for Northumberland council, it’s here and for Geteshead, it’s here.

Modern fires are often gas-fuelled and you can find flueless options. Bioethanol fires have very low emissions and don’t require a chimney or flue, however, they can be exceptionally expensive to run! Bioethanol is considered one of the greener fuels. With so many realistic-looking electric options out there, they are a good option too. However, it is questionable whether an electric fire has the same relaxing, stress-busting effect as a real, burning fire. For a fuss-free real flame, a gas fire is your best bet, as an open-basket gas-burning fire with ceramic “coals” is virtually indistinguishable from a real coal-burning fire. It’s a relatively simple task to run a pipe to the fireplace opening. However, this will need to be installed by a CORGI-registered fitter.


It is important to love your fire when it is both active and inactive.  During the summer months, will it still be beautiful to look at when putting it on or lighting it would make your home hotter than hell? With more contemporary designs, we find that they can look a little odd when unlit. Think empty fish tank with some coals in the bottom.

Traditional fires tend to suit most spaces and Architectural salvage and reclamation yards may offer the best chance of finding something appropriate. We have found that traditional designs in light-coloured stones such as limestone and marble are very popular at the moment. If modern styles are more your thing, they offer flexibility of scale and proportion. Whether the fire is gas, gel or electric, contemporary surrounds use sleek and minimalist modern materials. Glass or polished steel and lots of other materials are easily available. A hole-in-the-wall design does away with the hearth completely, and often the surround, too. These fires are usually gas, and can consist of a burner providing a regimented row of flames, a firebowl, or a pile of driftwood or pebbles. Hole-in-the-wall designs are often more suitable if you have a smaller room, where floor space is limited.

The size of your fire surround is important – too large and it will overpower your room but too small and it will look insignificant and lost. If you are renovating or altering rather than building a new space, the size of the existing opening, chimney breast and flue will influence the size of fire and surround that will be suitable for the room. If possible, it may be worth considering structural alterations to get exactly what you want.

Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee

If you are fitting a fire, getting your chimney swept and assessed is very important. When renovating an existing property and using the current chimney, you’ll need to ensure you choose a suitable fire. However, if you are extending or building a new-build home, you have a lot more flexibility. It is worth bearing in mind that a chimney must be at least 4.5 meters tall.

If there’s no flue in your home or design, or even no fireplace opening, there are still some electric and gel models that can create an interesting focal point in the room. There is a choice of flue-less gas fires available too, where the waste gases are taken out of the room via a pipe that is ducted through an outside wall.

Look at our recent projects in Newcastle and the surrounding areas for further inspiration! Get in touch with the Team @ Acre Design to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your home!

While you’re mulling over all of the fabulous fireplace options out there, here’s a nice warming fireplace video…