Beginners’ guide to renovating your house
A carefully considered home extension can make an amazing change in terms of aesthetics, comfort and convenience. Plus, it can add value to your property. Extending your current home – whether going out, up, or even down – can make more sense than moving, especially if you're happy living there. We look at what an extension entails and what you really need to know.
Before you embark on an extension, it's important to be very sure of what you're hoping to achieve. Maybe you'd like a second storey or a sleep-out for teenagers, even a room for Granny? Perhaps you want a bigger kitchen or a second bathroom.
What you can do depends very much on the size, shape, layout, age and condition of your house. It might be straightforward, such as simply building another wing or enclosing a verandah, or more complex, like building into a basement space. If you're adding another level, bear in mind that you will inevitably lose some existing space in order to install stairs.
When you know what you want, you'll need an architectural designer or architect to interpret your ideas – as an added bonus, they are likely to have kept up to date with what your local council requires, and what the relevant authorities will or won't let you do. For instance, extending the property's footprint will in many cases only need council consent, but for other projects – especially involving heritage buildings, or what are deemed buildings of interest – resource consent may be required.
Some architectural designers and architects will provide you with a rough estimate of the cost of your extension, while others will judge this task best left to your builder, who is more hands on.
Steve Lawson at Trade Guys Renovations says that even with a consented extension, a builder can only price according to what he or she can see or is aware of. “We know the cost of the materials and the labour, but when you're extending an existing home, especially an older one, there can be surprises – and they're sometimes not nice ones,” he says. “For example, when we're doing a basement extension, we'll sometimes find that the footings aren't up to current standards, and obviously fixing that will add to the cost of the job.” Steve says it's essential for homeowners to be realistic and put aside a contingency fund for variations. Be realistic about what you can afford – a major renovation is stressful enough without running out of money halfway through.
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