Building an extension is a great way to get the space and modern luxuries you want without having to go through the expense and hassle of selling your home and finding (or building) a new one. Extensions can also be a great way of adding to the market value of your home if you do end up deciding to sell down the track.
Maybe you need a bit of extra room for the kids, or maybe you’d love a new home office, second bathroom or a bigger entertainment area. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a new extension.
- Have a big clean out
Organise skip bin hire and give your house a good clean out before you get started. De-cluttering and getting rid of any household items that have passed their use-by date is a great way to give yourself more room and get the ball rolling in the lead up to a big renovation project.
- Who are you building the extension for?
Think about the reasons why you want to extend. What do you want from your extension and how will it make your life better? Do you need an extra bedroom or bathroom, a bigger kitchen, a rumpus room for the kids, or maybe something that gives your home more natural light?
Who will use the extension, and for what? Are the kids still young and likely to be living at home for a long time, or are they grown up and more likely to be leaving home soon? Maybe the kids have already left home and you are approaching retirement; in which case you might need to reconsider if you really need the extra space at all.
Having a clear idea of the function and purpose of your extension, and being very specific about exactly what you are after, will help you avoid spending money on unnecessary spaces and items.
- Consider the practicalities
Building an extension is a big and time-consuming job. Consider some of the practicalities and the way the project is likely to impact on your life. Where will you live while the extension is being built? How long is it likely to take? Is there anything going on now or coming up in the future that might affect your extension plans – things like weddings, travel plans, operations or new babies? Ask yourself if now is best time to start, or if it might be better to wait until things settle down a bit.
- Consider your budget
Projects like this aren’t cheap. Only start a house extension if you are confident that it won’t over-stretch you financially. How much will the extension cost and how much do you have to spend? What happens if you exceed your budget? It’s also wise to factor in a contingency (10 per cent – 20 per cent of your budget) for any unforseen or unexpected costs.
- Look around you for ideas
If you think you might like to sell your home in the near future, it pays to do a bit of research into the kinds of renovations and extensions that have been popular (and profitable) in your area. Ask a local real estate agent for examples of extended properties they’ve sold recently and how much they went for. This research will help you plan an extension that is likely to get you a better return on your investment down the track.
- Think about the design and style of your extension
Would you like your new extension to blend in seamlessly with the design and features of your existing house? Or are you after something a bit different? Are you thinking of adding a second story? Or are you looking at building a ground-level extension or granny flat? Keep in mind that if your house is heritage listed, or if you live in a development with stringent rules about the kinds of materials and styles you are allowed to use, you may not have much choice in the matter.
- Speak to an architect or building designer
Once you have a clear idea about what it is you want, you’ll need to hire an architect or building designer to nut out some detailed plans. These guys have an intimate knowledge of the structural issues involved, as well as the relevant regulatory requirements. They can also give you practical advice on the configuration of your extension – factoring in your lifestyle, your existing floor plan and the amount of space that will be created by the extension. Having a good relationship with your architect or building designer is hugely important – you want to make sure you’re both on the same page and share the same overall vision from the very beginning.
- Get the right permits
Always, always, always speak to your local council before starting any major renovation. Councils will not provide you with a permit if you don’t meet their regulations and/or your neighbours complain about the nature of your home extension. With this in mind, make sure you do consult your neighbours when developing your ideas for an extension. You never know – they may even have some helpful ideas for your project that you hadn’t even thought of.
- Find a good builder
A good builder is worth their weight in gold. Much like your relationship with your architect or building designer, you need to feel comfortable working with your builder. Make sure you do your research and choose a builder who specialises in extensions. Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations, get multiple quotes, ask for testimonials from past clients, and be sure to view examples of their recent work.