Home extensions are a great way to adapt your home to suit any lifestyle changes. Whether your family just got a little bigger, or you just decided you need a little extra living space, an extension can be the perfect alternative to moving to a bigger property. You get to stay in the home you love, without the hassle of selling and uprooting the family.
But before extending your home, there are a few things you need to know to help the extension project run smoothly.
1. Your budget
The first thing to figure out is your budget. You might have a lot of ideas for your extension, but you need to know how much money you’ve got to play with before you start planning any grand designs.
Set yourself a sensible budget. Be realistic about how much the project is going to cost, but draw the line at what you can afford, you won’t be able to enjoy your home extension as much if it’s left you in a financial struggle.
It’s worth accounting for any unexpected costs that may arise in your budget, so that if any obstacles present themselves during the build, you’re able to overcome them, hiring any necessary tradesmen to deal with the problem.
2. The cost
Once you’ve set yourself a budget, you’ll want to go about getting quotes. It’s important to know how much your extension project is going to cost before you start progressing with the build.
To work out the overall cost, you’ll need to look into who you’ll need to hire to help you with the build. For example, builders, electricians, maybe even an architect if you’ll be affecting the main structure of the house. You’ll also need to think about the cost of building materials, and the cost of decorating the finished extension.
If your budget doesn’t cover the proposed cost, it may be worth waiting a while to save up some extra cash for the project. This way you’ll be able to go ahead with the extension of your dreams. Or if you just need to bring the quoted cost down a bit, it’s worth enquiring about the different building material options, so that you can build the perfect extension for the perfect price.
Hopefully though, the quotes you receive will be well within your budget, and you’ll be able to go ahead with designing your perfect extension, knowing what to expect in terms of expenses.
3. What’s the purpose of your extension?
Before you go ahead with building your extension, have a plan for what you’ll actually use it for. Whether that be a spare bedroom, a home office, a home gym or even just another living room, having a clear idea of what it will be used for will help you design your extension to best suit its purpose.
Without knowing the purpose of your extension, it can be difficult to know exactly how big or small to build it. You might end up spending more money than you need to on an unnecessarily large space, or you might end up with an extension that’s too small for certain ideas. So make sure you know why you’re extending your home before starting the build.
4. How long will your home extension take to build?
It’s important to know roughly how long your extension will take to build, not only because you’ll be dying to start using it, but because having your home as an ongoing building site can be quite disruptive to your everyday life, especially if you’ve got young children.
You might also find that you’ll end up paying more than planned if the project overruns. Often you’ll be paying for people’s time, rather than just for the job, so you don’t want any unnecessary delays.
If you’re required to move out of your home during the build, it’s especially important to know how long the build will take, so that you can make other living arrangements for the duration of the build.
For these reasons, set a firm but reasonable completion date with your builders. Even if the project overruns slightly, your builders will do their best to complete the extension as close to your proposed deadline as possible.
5. Will your builders need you out of the way?
If you’re only having a small, single storey extension, you might be able to stay in your home throughout the build, without it disrupting your days too much. But for larger extensions that mean renovating huge areas of the house, it may be best to move out for the duration of the project.
It can be difficult to go about your normal every day routine when there are building works going on in your home, so often it’s easier to find somewhere else to stay until the completion date. This would also mean your builders can easily get on with their work without worrying about bothering you.
So before any building begins, ask your builders whether they would recommend you staying at home or not, and if not, allow yourself some time to find other temporary living arrangements.
6. How to seek approval for your extension
Some extension projects will require approval from the council, so it’s important to seek approval before beginning any work on the project.
First, you’ll need to contact your local council. They can help you understand the assessment and approval processes, and any fees that they might require.
The process for approval will differ from state to state, and depending on whether or not your home is a pre-1946 home, but basically, you’ll need a few certificates to give you the go ahead.
Usually you’ll need a Complying Development Certificate (CDC), which you can get by having detailed plans drawn up by a professional, and showing them to a building certifier. You’ll also need a Construction Certificate, which just lets the council authorities know that your extension will stick to the Building Code Of Australia. This is another certificate that can be granted by a building certifier.
After that, you’ll just need to tick a couple more boxes, by showing that you’ve stuck to the proposed and approved building plans, and if you plan on using your extension as a bedroom, you’ll need to have someone check that it meets the guidelines for living quarters.
7. Will your plan impact your neighbours?
You’ll need to take your neighbours into consideration when planning your extension, as larger extensions can block light from their property, and they will have the right to object to your plans.
Often councils will encourage you to talk about any possible issues with your neighbour personally, rather than allowing it to reach the point of formal complaint. So to avoid unnecessary hassle, talk to your neighbour about your plans, ask if they have any objections, and perhaps think of alternative ideas if your current plan for extension is likely to cause an argument.
Sometimes you’ll need your neighbour’s permission to obtain a planning permit, especially if you’re building a double storey extension that overshadows their property, so it’s better to get them on your side.
Maybe also work out an agreement with them about hours of building work, as sometimes building works can be particularly noisy.
8. Do you need insurance?
It’s a good idea to look into your home insurance and know what it covers and what it doesn’t, as the chances are that it won’t cover the construction of your extension, and it might not even cover the completed extension.
So look into getting construction insurance for the duration of the build, so that if anything goes wrong before your extension is completed, you’ll be covered for any loss, and won’t be out of pocket with a half finished extension.
Also contact your home insurance provider and ask whether or not they can extend your policy to cover the completed extension. Depending on your policy, you may already be covered, but it’s worth letting them know and extending the policy if need be. If they can’t cover any extensions, you may need to look for another home insurance provider who will cover it.
9. Who to hire?
Knowing where to start with your extension can be difficult, so before any progress can happen, you’ll need to figure out who you’re going to hire to help your dream extension become a reality.
You’ll need to find a home builder to help see your extension through to completion. Get in touch with a few different home builders before deciding on who to hire, as some may offer different prices and varying levels of expertise. Try to find a home builder who specialises in extensions.
You may also need to hire an architect, as often home extensions will affect the main structure of your home. An architect will know how to safely design an extension structure that will become a part of your main home. They’ll be able to draw up plans, and help you through the process of applying for approval.
Depending on what your extension is going to be used for, you’re probably also going to need an electrician, plumber, tiler and the likes.
10. Minimum room sizes
For health and safety reasons, as well as to insure a quality standard of living, there are minimum room sizes that you’ll need to adhere to, especially if you’ll be using your extension as a bedroom.
Ceilings in bedrooms should be a minimum of 2.4 meters tall, and the dimensions should be a minimum of 3 meters by 3.6 meters. Remember that bedrooms also need a window, to allow natural light into the room.
Other types of rooms have different minimum dimension requirements, but there is more freedom of size with rooms that aren’t bedrooms.
Whilst there are minimum dimension requirements, remember that these are the bare minimum, and that obviously the size of your extension can be much bigger if you’d prefer a more comfortable space.
So there you have 10 things to know and think about before going ahead with your home extension. Keeping these things in mind should help you plan a successful extension project.
Make sure you do everything by the book, and plan ahead, and your dream home extension will become a reality, the perfect addition to your home.