Thinking about a home extension?
Sydney’s marketplace may still be booming, but making just one of these five common mistakes will cost you dearly
Almost nine in 10 Australian property owners believe that a home extension is a great way to increase the value of their property, so it’s no wonder that more and more Sydney-siders are taking advantage of the favourable market conditions and expanding their home.
But if you love where you live and are planning a home extension to create a little extra room, make sure you do your homework first. We’ve listed the top 5 areas in which homeowners get caught out – and remember, it only takes one of them to cost you dearly.
1. Home extensions Sydney that work via a room-by-room strategy instead of focusing on the larger plan
With limited funding and time, it’s too easy to get caught up in the simple ‘room-by-room’ approach with your home extension. But given that at least a quarter of Sydney renovators raise money by using the equity in their property, it’s vital that your extensions give you a strong return over the long term. Yes, a home extension will create additional living space, but what’s absolutely key is that the living space is functional.
Rather than focusing on each room in isolation, consider the overall design plan of your home. Look at the areas you are keen to develop and identify exactly how those extensions will enhance the usability and accessibility of your home. Who will be using the space? How frequently will they be using it? And how will those extensions fit in with the overall design to complement, rather than separate, your space?
Although you may want to transform your home piece by piece, working from a big picture perspective will guarantee the most successful outcome over the long term. The time taken to plan will prevent not only poor design, but also long-term financial damage.
2. Home extensions Sydney that overcapitalise
The golden rule with home extensions is planning – and this extends to overcapitalising. If you’re extending the home purely for resale and profit, then you need to be very conscious of the purse strings. If you’re planning on staying in the property over the longer term, then you need to be absolutely certain that any money you spend can and will be recouped when you decide to sell.
So plan carefully, and continually step back and ask yourself if the extension will be adding genuine value to your home.
3. Home extensions that don’t follow Sydney’s planning permissions
Yes, Sydney’s building regulations are complex. Yes, you may need to work with local Council to ensure your extensions meet requirements. And yes, the system is onerous. But choose to proceed with unauthorised works? You’ll quickly learn that you’ll be at risk of potentially enormous challenges, including large fines and criminal charges.
It’s worth the time and money to ensure your home extension complies with all council and legal requirements. From trees and hedges through to Heritage listings, you’ll find a raft of rules that outline your rights and responsibilities at the NSW Land and Environment Court site (as well as a few examples of unfortunate punters who undertook unauthorised works). It’s always best to be guided by a professional in these instances, which leads us to…
4. Home extensions that aren’t done by professionals
Of course we support and encourage all home owners to be proactive in the maintenance and development of their home, but this doesn’t extend to large projects where wiring, plumbing and even structural expertise are required.
Most home renovators think that they will save money by doing it themselves, but surrounding yourself with the right support team can actually curb your costs. From architects through to builders, you’re guaranteed to have the job done properly from the very beginning. You’ll have access to higher quality and cheaper materials, and you’ll know that the premises (and particularly the subfloor) are structurally sound.
It goes without saying that hiring a licenced tradesman for plumbing, gas fitting or electrical work is a no-brainer – not only is it illegal not to, but also incredibly dangerous. To guarantee quality, talk to your builder about referring you to quality trade partners.
5. Home extensions Sydney that don’t use compatible materials
The right choice of materials is key to a successful home extension. They must be comparable with your existing building type, as well as the period of your home. It’s important to be selective when it comes to materials – they need to support the existing style of the building and blend as effectively as possible with the current structure. If not, the extension looks like an extension rather than part of the original home.
Being selective with the materials you choose, as well as getting professional advice on those materials, is essential to a quality outcome.
So if you’re thinking of a home extension in Sydney, don’t start with the detail
It’s vital that you start with the big picture and work your way into the detail. The big picture will ensure that your approach is genuinely the best one for both your home and your investment. While extending your current home and avoiding the costs associated with moving into a new one can be a smart investment strategy, it can also cost you money over the longer term if not thoroughly planned.
Engage an expert for planning and design, and build up a strong referral network of trade providers to benefit from the latest industry concepts and products. Work with a quality builder who has experience with homes of your style and vintage, and who understands that extensions should be sympathetic to the original building.
And of course, it should go without saying – don’t rush it, and enjoy the process!
Over to you
Have you undertaken a home extension? We’d love to know your plans or experiences – please share below!