What Are The Most Popular Types Of Home Extensions In Australia?

If you love where you live but need more space, adding an extension to your current home is usually cheaper than moving. In Australia's property hot spots, Sydney or Melbourne for example, you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by staying put and extending.

ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas

When it comes to deciding what kind of extension you want, there are a number of factors to take into account. The type of home you own, the size of your block, local Council building regulations, the climate in your region and, of course, your budget are all points to consider.
Not sure which extension is right for you? Here’s our guide to the most popular ways to increase your living space:

What are the advantages of adding another storey to a home?

Adding another storey allows homeowners to virtually double their living space without cutting into the rest of their block.
Upward additions can also allow more light into a home, help catch the breeze and create access to views that can enhance the value of the property.
The disadvantage of this type of addition is that the roof has to come off and be replaced at the end of the build. Builders will protect the roofless home with tarpaulin, but damage may still occur in wild weather and it’s usually impossible to live in situ while work takes place.
Good for: People living in big cities like Sydney and Melbourne where opportunities for extending outwards can be limited. This is usually a suitable option for brick homes with robust footings; other properties may need structural work to strengthen foundations first.

What are the advantages of extending outwards?

In places where land prices are more reasonable and block sizes more generous, people often prefer to build out to extend their living space, for example to create an open plan kitchen/dining/living area.
This type of addition is a major build, but is usually less disruptive and costs less than adding another storey. Check with your local Council to see if your property is subject to any heritage overlays or other restrictions, how far you are allowed to extend and to see if you need to submit a DA. Many councils now have a planning advisor available to answer planning questions over the phone, which can be a useful starting point.
Good for: People living in suburbs further from city centres, smaller towns and rural areas where block sizes are larger. This type of extension is popular all over Australia, particularly in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.

What is an up and under extension?

This type of extension involves lifting the existing home and building underneath it.
The Refresh business owner in Brisbane who extends Old Queenslander homes in this way says:
‘It’s a good way of gaining space within the original footprint. It gives you the potential to double your floor space, but you can do it on a small block without eating into your outdoor area and losing the rest of your block.’
She says that while the charm of Old Queenslanders is undeniable, renovating older homes can be challenging.
‘There’s quite a bit of complexity around approvals and there can be hidden costs – you may need to get engineering to reinforce the existing structure. You need to go in knowing things may not be straightforward and you need to be flexible, because there are always things you can’t control. The outcome will be awesome but you need to go in with your eyes open.’
Good for: Heritage properties, such as Old Queenslander homes, where Council regulations don’t permit changes to the facade. This type of addition is most suitable for timber homes.

How do I get more out of my outdoor living space?

Australia’s temperate climate means outdoor rooms, where people can eat, relax and even watch TV, are in demand.
Nielen Prince of Refresh Renovations in Adelaide says alfresco areas are a great addition to homes in South Australia:
‘We’re very fortunate here. We can use our outdoor space for nine out of 12 months of the year, not just on special occasions like Christmas.’
He says planning is vital.
‘It’s important to think about how you’ll be using your alfresco area and position it so you get most use from it - you don’t want to be too far from the main property. You also want to make sure you take advantage of features like a beautiful view.’
There’s a lot to think about, but Nielen helps ensure clients get the best result.
‘At Refresh we can work through more than one design option with clients to make sure they get something that’s perfect for their needs and lifestyle.’
Good for: All states, especially those where summers are particularly warm, and all types of home. Outdoor living areas that help create indoor/outdoor flow add value to any property.

You might be interested in reading: How do I go about building a granny flat?

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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