If you’ve been thinking about adding a floor to your home, you probably are agonising over whether the ‘gain’ of extra space is worth the ‘pain’ in terms of the disruption and cost of the building work.
People usually work out that the cost is mitigated by the additional resale value you create by adding rooms to your home, and the fact that the alternative of buying a new, bigger home would cost you a substantial amount in stamp duty, moving fees and potential disruption, from finding new schools to connecting to new neighbours and neighbourhood.
The big unknown is living through the building work. You’ll probably only ever do this once in a lifetime, so it’s unlikely that you’ve experienced anything like it before.
How much stress will turning your home into a building site cause you? Should you stay at home whilst the building work is being carried out? Can you stand the mess? In short, will you regret your decision to build?
With more than 1,500 homes completed and over 35 years in the trade, Addbuild has seen many homeowners living through renovations, and whilst every project is different, we thought it would be good to ask one of our clients to hear how they experienced their building work.
Anne and husband Paul live in the western suburbs of Sydney. With a growing family, their home was starting to feel cramped. Their teenage children wanted their own space away from each other … and their parents!
An extra bedroom, bathroom and study/second living room become a priority. The family loved their neighbourhood and home, and, having weighed up the alternatives, settled on adding a second floor to their home as the solution.
Anne notes, “we were lucky that we all agreed on the plan and were pretty excited by the thought of making our home better but it hadn’t been our first thought.”
“We had done some looking around to start with, but trying to fit in the children’s weekend sport with looking at houses wasn’t easy, and then we just didn’t see anything we really liked. That’s when we started looking at how we might expand our home and realised it made a lot of sense.”
“We looked at several builders and after a few quotes, discussions and doing our research, we chose Addbuild – they were competitively priced, had a great track record, and had experience of exactly the type of addition that we wanted. We also liked the idea of working with their designer to create a plan, and that they looked after the DA Process.”
Getting Everything Approved
The Development Application process wasn’t completely straight forward and took a bit longer than expected. “Yes, letting Addbuild handle the DA was a good call.” Anne explained, “We found dealing with our council frustrating. Addbuild obviously had a lot more experience of what happens and took the back and forth in their stride. They found smart solutions to the issues raised. We’re not bagging the council, we just had no idea!”
Staying or Going
With the DA approved, the family had another big decision to make. Do they live in the house through the work, or move out:
“The big thing was that we still had use of our bathroom and kitchen. So we decided to save money by staying.”
“Addbuild told us that at certain times we might be dealing from leaks, holes in walls, tradies coming though the home, noise, debris, dust and more. I’m glad that they didn’t sugarcoat it. There is no hiding from the fact that, at times, you feel like there is dust everywhere despite all the protection they put up and cleaning up they do. Be prepared!”
Building Work Starts
“We were all excited but also very nervous when all the building materials, scaffolding and a big skip arrived.”
“We had been warned that the first bit was one of the worst stages because obviously, to put a whole new floor on your house, they have to take your roof off first! The skip filled up pretty quickly when that was happening.”
“And they do put tarps down, but as Addbuild explained to us, they are temporary until a special tarp goes down which they make to fit over the house. That can only be measured after the roof is off, so there a few days when you are at risk of leaks.”
A note to the reader: the temporary tarps Anne mentioned aren’t as watertight as the “special” fitted polytarp which provides much better protection. This stays on until the roof is secured. However, neither tarps are 100% waterproof compared to a fully fitted roof. Rest assured that if there are any leaks, Addbuild guarantees to repair and fix any damage caused.
Framing and Floors to ‘Lock Up’
“From memory, it was about 3 weeks for the carpenters to do the new floors, then the timber frame for the walls and roof. This was on top of the special tarp so whilst the roof wasn’t on, we still felt a bit better protected.”
“A fair bit of dust still makes its way into the house, but this wasn’t unbearable. We were lucky that no heavy rain tested how waterproofed we were but we felt well protected.”
“Within another couple of weeks, a plumber had added the gutters and drainpipes, then the roofer put on the insulation foil and tiled the roof and we felt even better after that.”
That stage is something builders call “lock up” and usually takes up to 6 weeks to reach. Whilst the house is still slightly vulnerable as there will be gaps to be filled as the new floor and roof settle, work can now start on the interior of the new floor.
Trades Get To Work
Now the pace of work can vary quite a bit as different trades come in to work. Usually they will come in one after the other and factors such as availability and weather may dictate the speed of progress.
“We mentioned to our building supervisor that there were some days when no one was on site working which we hoped wouldn’t be the case,” Anne recalls, “but he explained that whilst it was also in their interests to avoid this, Addbuild uses quality tradespeople and their schedules don’t always overlap perfectly.”
“Everyone was friendly and professional, but whilst the plasterer was fantastic, the mess his work creates was without doubt the worst stage for us! Sanding of plaster leaves a fine coating of dust everywhere. This is unavoidable, and we were warned, but nothing can prepare you.”
“We played count the tradie: sparkie, carpenter, waterproofer, plasterer, plumber. They came and went over several weeks and everything started to take shape but because the outside goes up so quickly, you think it’ll all be finished soon, but obviously it takes longer than you’d like.”
“The Addbuild supervisor warned us there might be short periods when no one was on site as people’s schedules don’t always fit together perfectly. It made sense: if someone is good at their job, they are working somewhere all the time.”
“By this point we were itching to get everything finished, so it feels a bit frustrating when that happens, but we were happy to wait if it meant the person coming in was good at their job.”
Once the made-to-measure staircase goes in, the bathroom can be completed. Given the weight of tiles and cement that need to be moved, ladders are best avoided.
The project has now officially entered the home straight and, well, it is time to get the home straight: painting is the final stage followed by cleaning to get rid of any remaining dust and debris to transform the home back to how it was, now with the addition of a brand new floor.
Was it all worth it? We’ll leave the final word to Anne:
“When you live in a building site, time does seem to drag on, especially in the middle, but once you start seeing a glimpse of what you’ll be living in, the excitement starts to take over. You are definitely glad when it’s all over, but looking back, we couldn’t be happier with the result and how everything was handled by Addbuild.”