Extending Out the Back? Key Things to Consider

Home Extension

Along with adding a second floor, building an extension is the most popular way to expand your home.

There are many reasons people choose to stay put to develop their home rather than sell it and buy a bigger one, and we cover much of this ground in our ‘love it or list it‘ article.

Assuming you are set on adding space to your existing home, we cover the key considerations that will help you understand:

  1. Whether an extension is the best choice versus the alternatives;
  2. If definitely extending, the things to look into before you start.

Is an extension the best choice?

As mentioned, homeowners usually choose between extending out the back of their home or ‘going up’ and adding another level.

It’s also worth briefly mentioning there is a further option: knock down and rebuild. If you are also considering this, please read our article specifically covering the pros and cons.

However, if your decision is principally between an extension and an addition, here’s the factors that usually determine which one is best for you:

1. How big is your back garden and what is it used for?

The first question really is, do you have room to extend? Pretty much every extension is to the back of your home, so if your garden is small and you love using it, it’s an easy decision to say ‘go up’ instead.

Similarly, if you have a large garden and don’t use it, then extending out the back isn’t a dilemma.

Of course for most people, it’s not cut and dried. So we encourage our clients to think clearly about the next point.

2. Your ‘Needs’ versus ‘Wants’

Sit down with your family and start to prioritise.

Make sure you are brutally honest in capturing what your family needs from your renovated home – because you can’t function well without these features – versus the things that would be ‘nice to have’, more aspirational than necessary.

Your thinking should be with one eye to the future.

You may have young children who don’t need a big garden now, but will when they get older.

You might be considering a future where an elderly parent will eventually live with you, so you need everything to be accessible, without stairs.

3. Your lifestyle… and the future owners

Not all needs are so practical. Some needs and wants blur…

You’re not sure if the open-plan living / dining / kitchen flowing onto a back deck and then back garden is strictly speaking ‘needed’, but it was the prime reason you embarked on this adventure!

We know, as builders of around 80 renovations a year, that creating your ideal open plan living and entertaining space is one of the key factors driving extensions.

We also know from real estate agents that this is a sought after feature if you ever come to selling your home.

So from a lifestyle and resale point of view, some dreams are worth following.

And do your research: it’s never a bad idea to ask the real estate agent who sold you your home how they think your renovation plans might affect the price and marketability for your home.

4. Cost comparisons

Many people assume that extending will be cheaper than an addition. This is not the case.

Generally, extensions cost more than adding another storey because of the need for excavation and foundation work.

5. Council checks

Your council might have restrictions, heritage or otherwise, that dictate what you can or can’t do in terms of altering your home.

In some cases, adding a second floor might not be possible, in others, an extension might be more problematic.

It is worth checking before you get your heart set on one or the other.

Considerations Before You Start

Once you have confirmed that you are building an extension, here are the next set of considerations to take you forward.

1. Explore Your Finances

For most people, home alterations will require extra financing, so it’s time to have an initial talk with your existing lender if you have one.

And look into whether you can combine the building work with finding a better deal with another lender if you aren’t completely sure that you have the best possible loan.

To prepare for that discussion, talk to local real estate agents to get a feel for the likely uplift in your property’s value should you expand your home. Whilst many homeowners aren’t looking to sell after renovating, this information will be useful when talking to a lender.

2. Get Your Neighbours Onboard

Unless you are eligible for a Complying Development, your home alterations will require a Development Application (DA).

Your neighbours will be allowed to give their feedback, and, in our experience, they will be more helpful if you have already discussed your plans with them.

It is far better that they hear about your plans directly from you rather than when your council contacts them to seek feedback for the DA.

One of the reasons to stay and renovate is because you love where you live and, we hope, get on with your neighbours. So it makes sense to show them you care about what they might also have to go through, even if the disruption is relatively minor.

3. Choose Specialists

Not all builders and designers are the same. Choosing specialists in the field of extensions is very much recommended.

You also need to think about the advantages of a specialist designer versus an architect.

Again, we’ve covered this in more depth here, along with why choosing a ‘design and build’ company like Addbuild can be an advantage in terms of both cost and know-how.

It makes sense that companies who work only on extensions and additions will be able to give you the benefit of their knowledge, experience and trouble-shooting skills, and in the case of Addbuild, that’s 40 years worth spanning over 1,800 projects!

4. Blending with your existing home

Every home is different, but the general consensus is that extensions, more than additions, look best when they blend with your existing home.

Again, leaning on the advice of one of Sydney’s leading real estate agents, whilst designing the new space with a contemporary look and feel is the right approach, you should also look to carry through from the older section features like the fixed skirtings, window trims, doors and the cornicing to create a connection.

Looking to Expand Your Home?

Addbuild is always happy to help, and can arrange to come out to look at your home to talk through your options.

We can help you decide whether a ground floor extension or first floor addition would be the best option for you.

Feel free to call us on (02) 8765 1555 or send us a message using our contact form.