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Building an Extension

“How come building an extension costs so much?”

High Prices for RenovationsThis is a common question asked by Owner Builders who are looking at a major extension and renovation to an existing property. But it’s not just Owner Builders who query the high costs of extension projects. Many people who wanted to contract a builder to take care of an extension project have been shocked by builder’s quotes, and even though these people never dreamed of Owner Building, they now feel that it’s the best choice available to them.

Extensions are tricky and challenging, and often builders don’t enjoy doing them. They never really know what’s behind that blank wall, so to speak, and so when they quote they do so accordingly. It’s not unusual for builders to quote well over $2000 per square metre and as much as $3000 per square metre. Crazy, isn’t it! If you accept the price quoted and it turns out to be a straightforward job – then the builder will do very well from your business!

Here are some questions you should ask when considering a large extension project:

  1. “Will I be over capitalising?”

    This is difficult to answer as each situation is unique.

    Do the research and then consider what you are trying to achieve and then budget $2000 per square metre for the cost of building the extension to begin with. Costing out the renovation of the existing property is much more difficult and depends on many variables, but you must have a conservative budget.

    Consider then what the finished product would be worth in terms of the market value. And be reasonable; everyone overvalues their property. The numbers will tell you if you are on the right track.

    Get independent experts to review your numbers and let them give you constructive feedback.

  2. “How will I get the design to work?”

    The first challenge with a good extension project is design.  The key is finding a good draftsman who has real experience with major extensions.

    Now before we go any further, let’s define a major extension: Anything in which you are adding additional floor space and roof span to an existing dwelling in excess of around 60m2. Anything less than that you should not be getting quoted the ridiculous prices. But you should definitely consider Owner Building because the degree of difficulty is manageable. 

  3. “What are my planning requirements? Will it get approved by council?”

    Again this particular issue needs to be dealt side by side with the drafting and design. Make sure your draftsman knows his or her stuff before hiring them. Ask for referrals from people who have undertaken similar extension projects.

    Alternatively, find out if the council use Private Certifiers and if so, locate a good one. Still unsure? Give us a call and we will give you some advice based on what you wish to achieve. UBuild Homes provide Kit Home Packages tailored to Owner Builders who are taking on the challenge of building an extension to their existing home.  

  4. “Can I live in the house while I do the extension and renovation?”

    This is a great question. Ideally, if possible, stay in the house. It’s cheaper and you can be close by to manage the extension project and the trades, etc. Downside is it’s a bit of pain to get the gain – you have to live in some pretty messy surroundings for a while. Then the question becomes – are you actually able to stay in the house? And that’s a question for council and the Private Certifiers.

As more and more home owners consider a major extension and renovation to their homes as an alternative to selling up and buying or building elsewhere, the prices and hassles involved are steering them along the Owner Builder path. It certainly makes sense financially – but you still need to do your research and tick all the boxes.

If you have an extension or renovation in mind why not touch base with us? UBuild Homes can offer you a customised, cost effective kit package that will help you successfully complete your reno project far cheaper than most builders can.

Renovation Tips

Sometimes when putting House Plan Designs together people tend to focus so much on the asthetics that they forget the practicalities and live-in-ness of their future property.

A very handy website, Universal Design Renovations was put together by Alex Cochran  and his partner, Desiree who share a hands-on account of the challenges associated to renovating a house for disability access.

Now, even if you don’t believe you need to consider catering for people with access challenges in your own house designs, Alex and Desiree’s website is still full of helpful hints to designing your surroundings for safety, comfort and a focus on sustainability.

They cover everything from automating your home to installing safety flooring in wet areas,  having photovoltaic solar panels for electricity to how to care for paint brushes, and tips for tiling a wall through to replacing floor boards.

I like the no-nonsense approach, the step-by-step description of the renovations made to the property now known as ‘Bimbadeen’, as well as Alex and Desiree’s personal journey adjusting to an access restricted lifestyle.

Make sure you check out the handy ‘How to… Secrets’ section as well as the ‘Project Design Aspects’ Articles for  honest opinions and advice on using the recommended products to their best advantage.