Home extension tips

How to avoid costly traps when planning a home extension.

  1. Select an architect and a builder – preferably ones who have worked together previously.
  2. Are you planning to live somewhere else during the renovations? Make sure you budget for this and work out what you can and can’t tolerate in terms of living conditions.
  3. Check with council to make sure that your plans are compliant. You may also need to meet with the neighbours who will be impacted by the construction or the finished building, just in case you need to overcome any potential issues they have with your plans.
  4. Are you going to extend upwards, outwards, or downwards? Make sure whatever renovation you choose complements the original structure. Costs will vary based on the features of the site, but in general, it’s usually cheaper to extend outwards, rather than up or down.
  5. Going out rather than up leaves your roof line intact. By contrast, going up means the roof must be removed, the lower level weather protected, and then the roof re-married to the house.
  6. Don’t build up for a single room, especially if you need extra space. The space gain will be impacted by having to add a staircase. It's worth considering if you could benefit from another bedroom, or maybe a sitting room or en suite in your new, upstairs space.
  7. Excavating is another option, but it’s nearly always the most expensive option, particularly if your home is on a slope. Generally, an underground extension is for a garage, wine cellar, family room or perhaps an office. It’s usually not ideal for a bedroom, unless you can build a self-contained apartment. You’ll need to consider what you’re digging into, as it costs more to excavate rock than soil or sand, although it usually doesn’t require retaining walls.
  8. Try not to make changes to the existing structure and be mindful of your property’s aesthetics. Try to match the most prominent features, such as the roof, as closely as possible. Use similar building materials wherever possible and when adding new doors and windows, line them up with existing fixtures.
  9. It also usually pays to let your architect project manage the job. They understand builders, council requirements and your budget.
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