The vast majority of homeowners we work with have a similar story: they love their home and their neighbourhood, but their house just isn’t big enough and they’ve noticed some of the telltale signs it’s time to expand their home.
The underlying causes, and the potential solutions, can be quite different, but the main driving force behind making contact with us, a builder that specialises in additions and extensions, is a lack of space.
So here’s the 5 preliminary activities we think you’d be wise to look at when you are starting to talk about your options.
1. Ensure the family is onside
What are the reasons you are considering home alterations, and is your family on the same page? This might sound obvious, but there is a difference between thinking you know how everyone in your household feels, and putting it out there for everyone to discuss and agree what you are actually going to do.
Make a list of the reasons you are looking to expand your home and what might feature as part of a solution. Put them in order of importance. If it was your job to create the list, next discuss it with your partner if you have one.
And whilst children won’t dictate what you do, you are starting a process likely to lead to some disruption for all family members, so it’s important that they all understand where you are heading.
If old enough, your children may even remind you of something you hadn’t considered. Plus something important to them might be easily included into your plan and excite them about the outcome.
Even at this early stage, having a more detailed list of ‘must-have’ and ‘nice to have’ features will help you down the track when you start talking to designers or architects, and builders, or a company like Addbuild that both can design and build home alterations.
2. Do some research with your council
When you bought your home, you will have received one or more Section 149 certificates with the zoning information related to your property, how the property may be used and any restrictions on development that may apply.
It is also worth talking to your council, because it is possible that rezoning has occurred since your purchase and they should be able to tell you some of the basic details.
This is important information to consider, because there may be restrictions that prevent you from carrying out the very thing that you wanted to do. This will save you heartache down the track: otherwise you may talk at length and become excited about plans that simply can’t happen.
New Section 149 Certificates can usually be purchased from your council, but that may not be necessary at this early stage.
3. Do some research on potential designers and builders
You should also start asking friends and family for their recommendations, be that for a designer, architect or builder.
Not everyone will have useful information to share, but if you don’t ask, you won’t know.
If you are lucky, you will get some solid leads, but whether you do or don’t, you will want a hit list of at least three to choose from and your research shouldn’t stop there.
The feedback you get may be for a company that doesn’t have experience in what you are looking to build, and even if they are a recommendation, you owe it to yourself to do the due diligence and independently check out their suitability – you’ll find our advice a good guide on what to ask and look for.
4. Talk to your neighbours
Your home alterations won’t only affect your household, your neighbours will also experience some inevitable disruption, and there might be aspects of the changes that have other impacts on their property: their views, for example.
One of the reason for choosing an extension or addition is because you love where you live and, we hope, love your neighbours, so it makes sense to communicate well with them about what you are thinking about.
If you have to put in a Development Application with your council, your neighbours will be allowed to give their feedback, and we think they will cooperate with you more if you already discussed them together, rather than your council contacting them out of the blue to inform them about the DA.
5. Explore your finances
For most people, home alterations will require external finance, so it’s a smart move to have an initial talk with your existing lender if you have one.
It might also be a good time to look at whether you can combine the building work with finding a better deal with another lender if you aren’t completely certain you have the best possible loan.
Remember, nothing is static in the world of finance and your existing lender may no longer have the lowest rate and best features. Wouldn’t it be nice to finance your building work and not see a major hike to your repayments?
It can also pay to talk to local real estate agents to get a feel for the likely uplift in your property’s value should you expand the number of rooms or add another floor. Whilst many homeowners aren’t looking to sell after renovating, this information will be useful when talking to a lender.
These five initial activities should get the ball rolling and provide you with firm foundations for your plans. If you feel that you have ticked all these boxes, you are probably ready to read our “Consumer Guide To Home Improvement” that covers the next steps.
You’ll also find an array of ideas to help you in our home improvement blog. This article is our 42nd so we’re sure you’ll find something of interest in there.
And if you are even further down the road, and have more solid – even professionally drafted – plans, then we’d love to hear from you. Call our helpful team on (02) 8765 1555 or get in touch using our web contact form.