So, you’ve finally decided on a house extension. An exciting project for sure, but many home owners find it can be quite overwhelming too. You may have heard some terrible stories from others who have journeyed down the same path. You don’t need to add another chapter though. With some planning, good advice and a little discipline, it’s easy to maintain control during the process and make sure the extension will improve your lifestyle over the years ahead. To start you off on the right path, here’s 10 questions that need to be asked.
Whether it’s a large or small house extension, every project involves creating custom design solutions. You not only have the opportunity to increase livability in your home; you can raise the overall property value as well. That’s why it’s critical that your first step is to seek a professional like Acura Developments to assist during the design phase of your project. This ensures that you will have the best outcome possible within your allocated budget.
In most cases, the options would be to secure either a drafts person, building designer or architect. Associated fees will generally increase in same order. We suggest though that rather than focusing on just the profession of who you decide to engage, familiarise yourself with their previous work. Ask some friends or colleagues who they would recommend and during your shortlisting and interviewing of potential designers, make sure they can demonstrate their experience with working to a brief and also to a similar budget as yours.
An often overlooked but very important question. Many people dive straight into their extension projects before gaining clarity around what it is that they’re aiming to achieve.
Think wisely about who you’re building the extension for and for what purpose. As an example, your children; are they young and will they be in your home for many years yet, or are they older and may possibly leave home soon? Do you want them staying home a while longer or are you ready for them to leave the nest? Maybe they’ve left already and retirement is fast approaching for you; if that is the case, do you really even need the extra space? Many things to consider aren’t there!
These are an example of some of the largely personal and distinct features of your life that should be clearly addressed in a design brief, as opposed to just a list of ideas or random thoughts that you’ve had over time. Clarifying questions like these and exploring the answers helps you to create a comprehensive brief, which can help with avoiding unnecessary spending on items or spaces not truly needed during your house extension.
To answer this, you will first need to think about what are your actual needs. For example, an additional bedroom might not use much space, where as a family room and/or kitchen extension is typically larger and may impact on how much area is left for a yard.
It helps visualise the space you may need by using markers such as a rope to see the area the extension will use on your property. The sizes of existing rooms can be used to guide you with what size the new room should be. Then, standing back, you can assess the remaining open space to see if you are pleased with the size you are considering.
If a ground level house extension is restricted by available space, it’s then time to contemplate going higher with the addition of a second storey. By going up instead of out, you are able to retain existing backyards or open spaces. A downside of extending upwards is that it is not often the best option cost wise as there is considerable work required to remove roof structures, replace them with the new floor construction and also support any new second-floor walls.
How it will look is another key consideration when extending upwards. A second storey house extension can potentially enhance how your home looks and add more charm to the overall streetscape. If you want to avoid the ‘tacked on’ look, consider the benefits of engaging a talented building designer or architect to help you consider the aesthetics of your extension whilst balancing the practical solutions required.
One of the most expensive aspects of any house extension is demolition work, plus the flow-on costs that usually follow. Be mindful that each wall demolished will also involve a lot of rectification work which will involve several tradespeople.
Potential costs are increased if the wall being demolished is load-bearing and requires additional structural modifications. Load-bearing wall or not though, the base and top of the wall where it connects to the floor and the roof will still need repairs to be made involving several tradespeople such as carpenters, plaster board experts and also painters.
Depending on which rooms are affected during your house extension project, you may also require plumbers, electricians, timber floor installers or ceramic tilers. Think carefully when in your planning phase about how you can design the extension with removing the least number of existing walls as possible.
Many people find the most exciting thing about a house extension is the opportunity to play around with its design. Who has ever said (other than council if you live in a heritage area) you have to match the current style or features of your existing home?
Choosing a contrasting building style to your existing house opens up many possibilities for choice of material, use of texture, roof style, ceiling height, glazing proportions to name a few. We find that modern materials better suit the open-plan style that is generally desired. They can enable more ventilation and natural light, along with giving you the ability to customise your finishes and colours.
A key thing to consider when you choose to extend using a contrasting style is making sure the variation from old style to new style is as concise and deliberate as can be. This can include contrasting the exterior colour and finish, roof style, and/or other supplementary details. Preferably, it needs to be quite obvious where the old home ends and the house extension begins.
Older homes are not typically known for having the best solar design advantages, so quite often, one significant consideration when extending is investigating different ways to gain sunlight and increase warmth in the house.
If you’ve lived in the house for some time, you will be familiar with where and when the sun enters your property from one season to the next. Otherwise, if you understand which way is north, you will have a strong sense of the sun’s direction at different times during the day. When adding your house extension, capturing any northern sun should definitely be a key priority, especially if adding a family or living room where a lot of your time will be spent. Natural sunlight will make a space more comfortable to be in as well as reduce how much artificial heating is required.
Be aware though, especially if adding larger windows, how much summer sunlight are the windows exposed to? In particular, the afternoon west-facing sun. While sunlight streaming into your space is lovely in winter, the scorching heat of the summer sun can often make your space totally unliveable. This is why a good understanding of orientation, appropriate specifications for your glazing and effective use of available shading elements are all vital. Again, a good building designer or architect can help in achieving the greatest results for your individual circumstances.
Living in your home during a house extension has obvious financial benefits and also allows the convenience of maintaining your routine and day to day life. Unfortunately, though, it’s not always that easy. If your extension project involves substantial renovation work to any existing parts of your home, it will make it difficult to live in during construction. It is possible in such circumstances, to have your project staged so you can move from one part to the next of your home. You need to be aware that by staging your project, it usually means it will take longer and result in slightly higher costs.
Recommendations can greatly assist when it’s time to look for a builder. Earlier, we mentioned that you are best choosing a builder experience doing comparable work within similar budget ranges to yours. Acura Developments has a wealth of history in the building industry and more than happy to refer you to some of our previous jobs that suit your project and budget. Your architect or building designer will also some good advice in this area and should recommend builders, such as Acura Developments, who will suit your project. Some may even have services that can see them administering your building contract and/or functioning as your onsite agent.
Don’t forget to ask colleagues or friends for recommendations as well when putting together your shortlist of builders who you will get quotes from. The builder you ultimately select for your house extension will tend to be the one who quoted the cheapest amount. This is wise choice but only if you’re totally satisfied that the builders quotes’ you received have quoted on the same things.
A question with no set answer! A fast and easy house extension may only take between 4 to 6 weeks. As an example, if you are only adding a small space under an existing roofline, and you didn’t require the skill set of all trades. If your extension was to add a bathroom or kitchen, this would have a similar timeframe.
Given that most house extensions commonly include a wet area – and also assuming the extension is a decent size – a time frame of 3 to 6 months is more probable. Large extensions involving renovating a lot of the existing house could even take longer; especially when they involve a second-storey addition or are a larger staged project. In such cases, 6 to 9 months may be a more accurate estimation of time needed to complete a house extension with those specifications.
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