To extend or not to extend

As property prices inch inexorably higher more of us are choosing to renovate and extend our homes, rather than upgrade and move on. There are a number of practical advantages to this approach, especially if you like an area and have kids settled in local schools. Not least is the fact that buying and selling property has a whole host of associated costs above and beyond the price of a home. This includes agent’s fees, stamp duty and the not inconsiderable hassle of packing and moving your home/life. So where to start for getting a home extension project off the ground? Here are 6 pointers to get you started…

1. Practical Practicalities

Before you even get started on the nitty gritty of a home extension project you need to carefully consider the concept. This includes practicalities such as the economics of the project, where you are going to live during the works and how much value the extension may add to your home. Also take time to consider anything in your life that may get in the way of a smooth running project.

2. Budget, budget…

Once you have nutted these broad issues out it is time to get down to the nitty gritty of working out the costing of your project. This includes getting plans detailing the size and scope of the works. For these you need to work with an architect or building designer. A builder can then quote more accurately for your job. You also need to build in a contingency (10 per cent – 20 per cent) for any unforseen costs – a highly likely scenario, especially if you have not done a thorough due diligence.

3. Integrated Design

The design of any extension should be considered as an integral part of your existing home’s structure. This means it should seamlessly blend in, making use of the same materials to maintain continuity. If you are considering a second storey addition be aware that this is significantly more expensive and complicated from a construction point of view. Architects or builders are able to provide you with detailed plans that include a breakdown of the materials to be utilised and an idea of the overall costing.

4. Architects and Building Designers

Architects and building designers are tasked with drawing up detailed plans for home extensions. They have an intimate knowledge of the structural issues involved as well as the relevant regulatory requirements. These professionals are also well placed to give you practical advice on the configuration of your extension. This will be based on a number of factors, including your lifestyle, your existing floor plan and the amount of space being created by the extension. Having a personal rapport with your architect or building designer is important. This ensures that you are on the same page and share the same overall vision.

 

5. Sourcing a Builder

It goes without saying that a quality builder is worth their weight in gold. When you are sourcing a suitable candidate for your home extension you need to ensure that the builder specialises in extensions. And much like your relationship with your architect, you need to feel comfortable working with your builder. Remember it isn’t necessarily the cheapest quote that you receive that is going to be the best fit for you. Make sure that the builder that you end up deciding on is competent in what you need. There is no point saving a few thousand dollars to end up with heartache at the end of the renovation. Other pointers include signing a detailed contract that details their obligations during the course of the works.

6. Red Tape

There is a plethora of regulation around building, mostly originating from the Building Code and your local council. Seeking council approval is the first step in this process, a document that authorises any works. Prior to applying for this it is also a good idea to speak to immediate neighbours who will be impacted by the works. Besides being a courtesy, you also need to ensure that they do not object to your proposal – which could jeopardise the whole project. Remember to always use licensed, registered professionals and trades. They are likely to do a better job and crucially, your works will conform to regulatory standards.

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