Kitchen Bump Out

Is a Kitchen Bump Out really the right kind of home extention investment for your home.

This article is in reply to a message kindly written into us by a homeowner in southern central Canada - and as you will see, the extension that they have added to their home has brought them both benefits and problems.

First let's have a look at the message so that you can get a good understanding of the situation and then we can talk about why this type of project is becoming more and more popular - and why it may well be our top home renovation investments of the year - and then look at some of the pitfalls that this project can bring with it.

"We installed a kitchen bump out with windows [3 feet deep by 5 feet long] that now holds our sink and dishwasher.The area below was excavated to allow for the pipes to be installed,there is only a very small access to the pipes thru a basement wall at ground level.A heating duct comes thru the space and blows into the kitchen but I feel no heat when I put my arm into the space.We have been lucky no burst pipes but it can get very cold and windy here. At -25 with a -35 winchill yes we spend time thawing the pipes.Any suggestions?. Thanks"

Now, not everyone has a kitchen bump out, but maybe you do...

If so, is your Bump Out working for you and your home?...

  • please write in and explain a little about your own home bump out extension project and tell us about any particularly good or bad experiences during the build itself.
  • how difficult it was to get your building permit.
  • how you occupy your new space - breakfast table or sink and dishwasher or...
  • and if you have had similar trouble with frozen pipes as a result of the project.
  • and finally how happy you are and if you would recommend a kitchen or breakfast bump out to other home owners.

write in with your own Kitchen Bump Out 'Have Your Say' adventure, tell me if you want to be credited for story or remain anon as the above author - and take this opportunity to pass on your knowledge and experience and help others.

Kitchen Bump Out Graphic of before and after

What is a Kitchen Bump Out

Simply put, a bump out is a way of extending a room in the quickest, easiest and one of the most economical ways possible.

Small Bump Outs usually have no foundations and as such homeowners often find getting planning permission for the extension to be easy. No foundations means a quick build in comparison with traditional extensions and of course less building materials and manpower hours help bring the costs right down.

The exterior wall is removed and strength and rigidity is returned to the construction by the installation of a good solid laminated header.

The original flooring is cantilivered out - extended out a couple of feet or so, it is braced internally from within the house so it doesn't need under support.

New walls are built up at the new perimeter and windows included where required - a small roof entends out over the new area supported by the laminated header

...and hey presto you have a larger room.

Take a good look at any room in your home that has an exterior wall - would it benefit from an extra 2 or 3 feet of depth - and just how long is that exterior wall - how much more floor space would you gain...

I have simplified the build but I would recommend calling in a qualified, experienced, certified contractor to do this work for you, like all other projects, it must be carefully planned out and measurements must be exact - otherwise you could end up with a big hole in the side of your home.

Kitchen Bump Out Hic-Ups

It's not all roses with Bump Outs... they are a convenient build but there are important factors to consider before deciding that this is the right type of extension for you and your home.

And please don't forget that all home improvements should have the necessary building permits as well as completion certificates and long warranties - before you start and to make the project a worthwhile home improvement and financing investment.

  • Your home has to be structurally sound - foundation, walls and roof - to be able to support a cantilevered structure - some people cantilever the floor, some the roof or both... none of it's any good if your home can't support the cantilevered weight.
  • You have to use the right size and strength of laminated header - making sure that structural strength is returned to walls and roof.
  • extending to fit an eating area with window views is the easiest bump out extension project but the new flooring and walls should still have adequate insulation to match the rest of your home and your climate.
  • The kitchen sink is traditionally placed at the kitchen window to provide a view while washing up - and beside the sink and the water pipes goes the dishwasher... logical - but placing water pipes at the perimiter of your kitchen bump out means that wall insulation and pipe insulation and access should be paramount.

If your new kitchen bump out has placed you in a similar situation as the writer of the message I do have sympathy for you, but it is time to act... your new bump out is taking control of your life - I imagine that in that situation you can't comfortably leave home on a cold frosty morning for fear of your pipes bursting and flooding your home while you are away.

You can't go on retro-fixing this problem any longer by continually trying to thaw your pipes - you really have to solve the cause of the problem - of why your pipes are able to get so cold in the first place.

(I find in general that most people in this situation really already know that they have to get to the root of the problem and solve it... and what is holding them back? - strangely enough it not just down to the expense, it's really more the thought of further upheavals at home, more dust, more banging and building work... but you know something has to be done sooner rather than later..., you just have to try to make sure that it is the right solution.)

Kitchen Bump Out Solutions

- you have to call in a number of contractors and get as many options as possible so that you can choose the best solutions for your home, lifestyle and budget. (you know the rules on contractors if you have already read my articles on finding contractors - see certificates, references, previous work etc.)

- ask other homeowners in your area who may also have a kitchen bump out and see if they have solutions that could work for you at your home.

- if another local homeowner has a 'problem-free' kitchen bump out you may be interested in talking to their contractor about helping you find the right solution for your home.

It is not easy giving you a solution without being there but here are some ideas to get you started...

  • You want to improve the insulation generally through the bump out area - wall insulation, floor insulation and roof insulation! - wherever possible
  • You want to improve your access to all pipes if at all possible
  • You want to improve any built in method that is supposed to keep that area warm and frost free, in this case you want to make sure that warm air passes through the heating duct to keep the area containing the pipes above freezing - if the heating duct was warmer would your problem be solved - on the other hand if the duct is not insulated you will lose heat along it's entire length!.
  • Get in full control of how water flows to your kitchen bump out area - make sure you can cut off the supply if necessary - where it is handy for you.
  • You want to wrap your pipes up in insulation and keep them warm to stop losing heat.

Let me ask other visitors who may live in more southern locations - can you imagine living in a climate where the winters drop to below -25ºC, I have watched bufalo in that weather, about the only reason I would stand outside in such cold - and once you have felt the freezing snow around your feet you know the value of clever insulation in walls and around windows and doors to keep that hard earned warmth within your home.

So in such extremes of weather you couldn't imagine building any kind of extension without taking the upmost care of insulating walls and pipes could you - but what if you inherit these problems when you move into a home - what can you do...

Kitchen Bump Out Summary

If you have pipes in your bump out and they are freezing - you don't have enough insulation in that area to keep the water warm enough to keep running through. An insulation solution has to follow the pipes all the way down to warmer ground.

If you include a method of heating that area with warm area passing over the pipes to stop them from freezing, a lot of the energy used creating warm air is going to be wasted as the heated air escapes outside of a poorly insulated bump out area - It could get quite expensive just to stop the pipes freezing, or as in this case, this method fails and the pipes freeze anyway.

Insulation is key to keeping your home warm. If you have adequate insulation throughout your home but poor insulation in a newly build kitchen bump out - you can imagine why it's suddenly much cooler throughout your home and why your energy bills have gone through the roof... because all your warm air has escaped out of your badly insulated kitchen bump out.

It is not easy to accept that you should lay out the cash to give a problem the right solution but in the long run it is often less expensive than continually trying to deal with quick fixes.

Bump-outs with foundations are more expensive to build and require more paperwork but often have less problems as normal updated building practices starting from the ground up should include the correct insulation for your home and your area.

Having said that, a properly built and well insulated cantilevered Kitchen Bump Out should add value to your home and not add to your home maintenence problems.

Best building wishes for a speedy solution

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