Thinking of extending? The 4 most important things to consider

What are the key things you should ask yourself before you plan an extension?

1.What is my budget?

Based on what can I afford and what am I prepared to pay for my new extension.

Due to more stringent compliance requirements on lenders, it is increasingly difficult to qualify for a home loan. Consequently, the first step is to work out the amount you can borrow (unless you are among the few who have enough cash sitting in the bank).

There are plenty of ‘online calculation tools’ to give accurate information on monthly repayments of loans, for example. Generally, home loan brokers administer home loans more efficiently than banks and are usually at least as competitive with their rates. Even before contacting a Broker you should be comfortable with the level of mortgage you can afford based on your income only.

Your house will not necessarily be worth more, straight after a renovation or extension, so don’t rely on capital appreciation as a reason for extending. Although capital appreciation is likely, particularly over time, it is unlikely you will time taking a profit if your finances are under stress.

Once the budget is settled stick to it and sleep at night!

2.How do I find out what my extension will look like and how much it will cost?

Only a registered builder who regularly designs and builds extensions can give you an accurate idea of what your extension will look like and cost. In most cases, they can do this with a free consultation with no initial commitment from the owner.

Through years of experience extension builders know the hidden structural, time and cost implications of renovating and / or adding a second storey extension to an existing home. Already at the concept design stage, they will only use efficient design solutions. Excessive steel, expensive and inefficient building materials, complicated design solutions, and so on,
should be avoided, in favour of tried and proven, practical methods, which can achieve any desired result anyway. Too often costly Building designer and Architect plans never go ahead, after the owners find out the build cost.

The design-builder can give you a budget and design ideas free. Don’t spend any money on a design concept or working drawings before you know the facts. This is particularly important if your extension requires a Planning Permit. You could be out of pocket for over $10K and not even know what it is going to cost to build.

So make sure you Google “extension design builders” (in your area) and talk to at least 3 builders about a free design consultation. After this you should have a good idea of what you can achieve with your budget and which builder is the most compatible with your requirements.

3.What are my requirements, ideas and needs?

The main reasons for home extensions and renovations is a need for:

  • more space,
  • lifestyle,
  • comfort,
  • energy efficiency,
  • additional facilities,
  • maintenance, and the
  • aesthetic.

Growing families and the new home being too small or the old house needs refurbishing are the usual inspiration for renovations and extensions.

Don’t forget who you are building for. No point paying for a spare bedroom and then never using it. A well designed 3 bedroom home will sell for more than a badly designed 4 bedroom home. If you want a spare room for visitors make it a dual purpose study / bed.

Remember you are paying per square meter, for your new extension, make every square metre count. Avoid corridors, oversized bedrooms and bathrooms, add space in the living areas, where it matters, for comfort and resale.

Make sure your designer builder uses all possible energy efficient and sustainable design strategies and construction methods. Some of these methods, like orientation, correct windows and seals involve little or no extra cost. Higher star rating or passive house design features should make your house more comfortable and cheaper to run and will definitely add to resale value.

Look for Green Living Master Builders and Passive House Builders.  They are better qualified to advise on the costs and benefits of the many energy efficiency solutions available.

4.How do I make it all happen?

Now you have a loan and a budget, a design and a builder.

More so than ever, it is important to stay disciplined about the budget.

By now your builder should have provided you with a fixed quotation (scope of works) based on the design proposal and has clearly explained the cost of all inclusions and exclusions. Until the working drawings are finalised owners are often tempted to finesse and make changes. Such changes will most likely increase costs. Be aware of this and any other cost of items not included in the quote.

  • Will your extension require you to move out,
  • How long for and what extra costs will apply?
  • Have you discussed such details as painting, flooring, heating and cooling, ventilation, insurances and permits?
  • How long will it take to finalise contracts and permits ready for the build to start?
  • How long will the works take?
  • Has your loan been approved unconditionally?

If you want to make your extension ideas a reality call Capital Building and book in a design consultation with one of our experienced design consultants.

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