Need a Bigger Home, But Don’t Want to Move? A Home Extension Could Be Right For You

There are a number of practical advantages to extending your home rather than purchasing a new one, especially if you like an area and children who are already settled, and an abundance of friends or family that live near you. Not to mention that buying and selling property has a whole host of associated costs above and beyond the price of a home. This includes agent’s fees, taxes, as well as the overall nuisance of packing and moving your home/life. Here are some tips on where you should start when looking into a home extension project.

First things first, be practical. Take all things into consideration. You may not be able to turning 1,000 square feet into 6,000. At some point, building an extension could cost more than buying a new house altogether. You must be practical in terms of the economics, and think about where you are going to live while the project is being completed. You must also think about how much value the extension may or may not add to your home. Consider any upcoming life events that may make the extension process stressful, or impossible altogether. 

After you have thought about these factors, you should start to develop a budget. Gather all plans. These plans should be very detailed, regarding every aspect. Little things can add up, so while certain things are inexpensive, once combined, they can all add up to a large expense. You will certainly want to meet with an architect, or a building designer; builders, are going to be able to quote you in a more accurate way than an architect will. However, you should obtain quotes from both. Add about 15-20% to the quote that the builder gives you, as you should always budget for more. If you can’t afford the extra percentage, you should hold off on your project. With any remodeling or addition, the budget is almost always exceeded due to unforeseen problems. What you don’t want is a large, beautiful addition built without any plumbing or appliances since you were unable to afford them. 

The aesthetic of the design should absolutely match the existing structure of the home. It should blend with the rest of the house, not stick out like a sore thumb. Therefore, you should use the same materials that were used for the main home. Know that adding a second story is going to be more expensive, and also more difficult (from a construction perspective). However, the architect and building designer will be able to give you details of the associated extra cost, and detailed plans. Know that the materials used will drastically change the cost of the project.

Both building designers and architects need to draw up plans for the home extension. Don’t ever try to come up with a plan on your own. Of course, you can discuss with them what your plans are and share your ideas; but you should know that certain things affect where you can put things such as plumbing, and bedrooms, and the like. There are many codes that must be followed, which is why your extension may not be able to be set up perfectly the way you envision it. Realize that you may have to make some sacrifices here and there. They’ll also be able to give you advice; be sure to realize that they have likely done many extensions, and so you should be open to their ideas (within reason). They can help you figure out a blueprint based upon your lifestyle, the existing floor plan, and the amount of space being added to the home extension. 

One thing you should do, is be sure that you choose a great architect and building designer. You generally get what you pay for. Make sure that the building designer specializes in home extensions. You should also get many quotes, client testimonials, examples of their work, and also be sure to sign a contract. More importantly, read the contract before signing it. Once you sign,  you’re committed..even if you don’t like what is in the contract. Once your signature is there, you’ve approved every word on it.

Above all, be sure that you obtain a building permit. This is a task that must be completed before you begin building. It is illegal to not have a building permit, and it is the first step in the home extension process. There is a  plethora of regulation around building, mostly originating from the Building Code and your local council. A planning permit is the first step in this process, a document that authorises any works. You should also check with neighbors and be sure that it doesn’t impact their homes. 

For example, they may have a problem with you building anything that impacts their window or porch views, and the like. You don’t want to have to start over after the fact, or in the middle of the building process. Of course, if legally, it doesn’t impact your plans, you can still follow them out. You don’t have to base your designs on your neighbors opinions. But there are some laws regarding home extensions and neighbors that you should look into.


  1. It seems strange to have to get a building permit to build something on your own property. Seems a little unfair (and also intrusive) if you ask me.

  2. Agreed, but it’s the way of the world. It’s also a way for cities to make money, which they try to do in any possible way that they can. Ahhh…the government 🙁

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