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.

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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…

What do the updated Permitted Development Rights mean for you and your extension plans?



You may not be aware but the Government’s ‘Larger Home Extension Scheme’ has now been made permanent in England. Previously, this was a temporary scheme, applying to developments completed before 30th May. Permitted Development Rights mean that homeowners may be able to undertake some works without the need to apply for planning permission. This raises some innovative opportunities for you if you are looking to extend your existing home.
Planning legislation changes. Permitted Development rights are no exception and these have been revised quite a bit in recent years. The changes aim to take the pressure off planning departments processing planning application (lucky them, lucky us). A key change is that we now have a right to build larger single storey rear extensions under Class A. This scheme means that if you are planning to build a single storey rear extension under Permitted Development Rights, you are now allowed to double your permitted development allowance size. Applying to extensions up to 8 metres (from 4 metres) for a detached house and up to 6 metres (from 3 metres) for other types of houses.

Permitted Development explained

Permitted Development Rights are policies which effectively give homeowners more freedom to enlarge their home, with pre-approved planning permission being granted. Within these rules, you can extend your property (within certain perimeters), without needing full planning permission. Obtaining planning permission can be a long process for some and can delay the start of your build at a time when you may be keen to get going.

These rights do not usually apply to larger extensions, larger loft conversions or where your property may be protected (in a conservation area for example). It is worth engaging with a local architect early on in your project as they will be able to advise you on work that may be considered as ‘permitted development’ and therefore, not need planning permission.

The Team @ Acre Design are used to navigating these policies. Alistair Crerar, Managing Director of Acre Design, also has over ten years of experience in Building Control. Importantly, Alistair is well equipped to advise on the legal requirements when building your home extension. The Planning Portal also has some useful information on its website and the Government’s general planning permission advice site can also be helpful.

How will I know if my single storey extension idea qualifies for Permitted Development Rights?

To gain the additional allowance for extensions under Permitted Development Rights, your plans must extend no more than 8 metres (for a detached home) or 6 metres (for other types of house) from the rear elevation of your home. This applies to how your home was positioned on 1st July 1948. This means that if yourself or a previous owner has already extended your home, your permitted development rights may already have been used.

If you aren’t sure, Acre Design can advise you on this. You can also visit your local authority’s planning permission website to view any applications made in connection with your address. The relevant information is freely available to the public.

Other rules which apply when utilising Permitted Development Rights:

  • You cannot build upon more than half of the land around the original house.
  • Your extension must be a maximum of 4 metres high, from the highest point of natural ground. However, this does reduce to 3 metres if your extension will be within 2 metres of a boundary.
  • You must use materials which are in keeping with the existing house.
  • Additions such as: verandas, chimneys and balconies are not included.
  • Rights are restricted if your home is in a conservation area, national park, area of outstanding natural beauty, world heritage site or The Suffolk or Norfolk Broads.

Different types of rights

Class A: Extensions (single storey rear), Class B: Additions to the roof. E.g. rear dormers, hip-to-gable extensions, Class C: Roof alterations (other), Class D: Porches, Class E: Buildings (such as outbuildings), Class F: Hard surfaces, Class G: Chimneys and flues and Class H: Microwave antennas.

Neighbourhood Consultation

The Larger Home Extension Scheme calls to approval process for extensions in this category a Neighbourhood Consultation Scheme. Once your architect has finalised your plans, your local authority will notify your neighbours. They will ask them to make any objections to your house extension within 21 days. If there are no complaints and your build complies with the relevant regulations, you should be about 42 days away from the approvals you need to start constructing you home extension. Although it is unlikely if you work with a reputable architect, such as Acre Design, an application may (rarely) be refused. You can appeal to this decision but may need to alter your plans.

Lawful Development Certificates

On paper, if a proposal meets the criteria for Permitted Development no Lawful Development application should be required. However, it is still advised that you apply for the Certificate of Lawful Development to make sure your design meets all of the required standards. This essentially covers your back, should you be faced with any difficulties post construction. In essence, going through this small process ensures that your building work does meet the requirements of Permitted Development and fully complies. A better safe than sorry approach!

Choosing Acre Design to guide you through your extension design process…

All of these policies and regulations may seem a little daunting. That’s why Acre Design are here to help. We submit all applications on your behalf, meaning we can deal with any technical questions which may arise. We simply inform you upon the success of your application! This removes any stress from this part of the process from our clients. At your free initial consultation, we will be able to advise you on the feasibility of your project.

Even where planning permission is not required, detailed plans are vital. They will save you time and money.

We hope that you find this information helpful, at Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things Architecture and design. We 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!