Extending or going double story? What to consider.


When you need extra space but don’t want to move you’ve got two options – build up or build out. Home extensions or adding a second storey both require careful planning – and there are a few things every renovator should consider before calling in the builders.


  1. Do you really have the space? If you’re living on a small urban block, going up maybe your only option. Extending always means sacrificing garden space for living space – if you have young children this might not be the best move. Also, you’ll need to consider your available floor space on your ground level even if you do decide to build up instead of out. Adding a stairwell to lead to the second floor often means you’ll need to sacrifice a whole room to create enough depth and width to ascend comfortably.
  2. Are you prepared to move out during the build? Extending your home on the same level is often less disruptive to your family life than adding another story. In general, an extension allows you to stay in your home throughout the build (as long as you’re okay with noise and dust), but a second story means you’ll definitely need to find alternative digs while the work’s being done, which can take between twelve and twenty weeks. This can also add extra costs to your project budget.
  3. Can you afford to go up? Adding a second story can often be more expensive than a ground floor extension – it requires more structural work, plus you'll need to make sure you have plans drawn up by an architect or draftsperson and submitted to council before you begin. Even ground floor extensions can be pricey if they need significant preparation work or to excavate massive foundations in difficult terrain. You'll also need to think about access – can heavy machinery access your property easily, or will extra works need to be done even before you start work on the extension?
  4. What about the views? Building up can mean getting a whole new perspective on your neighbourhood. But not every aspect is a stellar one. Do you know what's behind your neighbours' fences? What will you do if you're unhappy with the vista from your windows? Will your neighbours approve your plans to gain sightlines over their properties?
  5. Does your chosen builder share your vision? Following weeks of research, you've finally narrowed down your list of potential home builders.The next step is to interview them in person to make sure they’re the right fit for you. You’ll want to feel comfortable interacting with them throughout what is often a highly stressful process. Do they value transparency and excellent client communication? If it's important to you, does their building philosophy match yours regarding sustainability and/or energy efficiency? Do they have references you can call to check their bona fides? Can you tour examples of their previous work? The more details you can glean at this early stage of your home renovation project the more likely your build will go off without a hitch.