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Up, out or under: what sort of extension is right for you?

by renov

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Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed building approvals for home renovations in totalled $6.35 billion in 2012 – or around $500 million every month. So chances are you, or someone you know, will be thinking of extending up, out or under – or giving your home a makeover at some point.

 

Extensions

If you’ve decided to extend, generally the cost of building an extension up is more expensive that extending out.

So if you are budgeting for further additions – such as kitchen renovations or a pool – and have plenty of room on your property, you may want to err on the side of the less costly option.

Try to stay unemotional in this decision.

For example, if your justification for wanting to extend up instead of out is based on the fact that you don’t want to build over your precious DIY paving, then the reasoning of a professional may provide more sensible and unbiased advice.

Up, out or down

There are clear pros and cons for going up, out – or even under.

Going up

Besides providing more living and storage space, an upper-storey extension can help to bring more light into the property. It will also save your existing garden.

An additional storey that enhances the access to pleasant views, particularly water views, and can dramatically boost the value of your home. But you do lose some space downstairs with the staircase.

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Going up usually means taking the roof off (unless you have a lot of attic roofspace to work within), which brings its own set of problems. Many people worry about the inconvenience of living in an unsealed house, particularly in wintry conditions. However, some builders promise all-weather, 24-hour emergency work.

Upper-storey additions mean adding extra weight onto the existing house. You need to be sure your house can handle this pressure. Some older-style slab homes or cheaper package homes are not built to withstand an upward extension.

But there are ways builders may be able to work around structural limitations, such as by carefully distributing weight to different areas of the home. It becomes imperative at this stage that you are dealing with an experience extension builder and trusted engineer.

Pushing out

Are you making the most of a wide block? To increase your kerbside appeal you can extend out the front of your house to increase your streetscape presence and possibly add to the value of your home.

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Extending outwards means you can keep your original roof. Although, you will have to match the new section with the existing one.

The slope of your land is important to consider: excavating for outwards extensions can be costly.

Or going under

Even a small amount of excavation can be very costly, depending on the logistics and the type of soil or rock that lies beneath. But depending on the lie of the land on your block, you may be able to go under your home to squeeze in some more space.

Queenslanders are a good example of this kind of extension, as are older homes with existing cellars or homes set high on sloping blocks. Make sure to factor in damp proofing.

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Factor in the unknown

Extensions are big undertakings so – as with all building work – always factor at least a 10% contingency buffer in your budget for unknown extras that can arise.

Don’t overcapitalise

The golden rule of renovating and extending a home is to be cautious of overcapitalising. Unless you’re planning on staying in the property for the long term you need to make sure you’d recoup the money you’re spending in any sale.

So always ask yourself if any extension is really adding genuine value to the property.

source: Real Estate Australia