Whatever the size of your property, there’s every chance that you’ve kicked back, closed your eyes and dreamt of creating more space. Not only to add value, but also to provide the ultimate living area for you and your family.

The plethora of home makeover programmes that populate the TV schedules make things look relatively quick and easy, but the reality is that extending can be something of a minefield for the uninitiated. At Refresh, we specialise in managing home extensions to ensure that clients receive the best outcome from all angles. In other words, we deliver the best design ideas and oversee the build process to ensure that what is on the plans is what actually ends up being built, and we’re also accountable to our clients in terms of quality control, budgets and timescales. We achieve all this by keeping oversight of what we believe are the ten golden rules for any successful home extension project:

1) Focus on the why

We encourage all of our clients to think carefully about why they are extending as there is a temptation to focus on the design rather than the practicalities of the space. In a minority of cases, there can even be a case for moving rather than extending, especially if the spatial requirements are so great that the planners would deem the property or plot to be over-developed. In most situations, however, it is more cost-effective to extend your existing property, especially when you factor in the costs incurred with a sale and purchase.

2) Plan, plan, plan

As the old saying goes: failing to plan is planning to fail. From the moment you hit upon the idea of extending it’s therefore advisable to begin the planning process and to ensure that you go into as much detail as you possibly can. It can be beneficial to start from the point of the motivations and objectives for the extension. What will it be used for? How large does it need to be? How will the rooms be configured? Rather than simply adding rooms, answering questions such as these will ensure that the design encompasses more than just the layout and is sympathetic to the less tangible benefits an extension can bring.

3) Consider your materials

Most extensions will require building consent, so it’s critical to give careful consideration to the materials that will be used in order to achieve smooth progress through the consent process. The design phase should ensure that the materials complement the existing architectural style and are not specified on a whim – it’s worth remembering that the extension will be permanent, so it’s important not to go for anything that will either date or pass out of fashion in a short space of time.

4) Check your measurements

It’s advisable to take your time over the measurements because even a few millimetres can have a huge impact on the project. While it’s imperative to avoid an extension that swamps the original structure, it’s equally important to ensure that the new addition isn’t dwarfed by the current building. Can the extension combine with the existing space to create a different feel rather than simply adding new rooms to the side, for example? And once you’ve hit on your optimum size, measure, measure and measure again to ensure that your plans are completely accurate.

5) Extend in style

The planning phase will include many elements, especially in terms of the budgeting and scheduling, but consideration must also be given to the architectural style that will be most appropriate. Maximising natural daylight through the use of large swathes of glass is currently on trend, and this can be a useful way to blend the new with the old, but the choice of brick and roofing tiles will also contribute to the overall style, as will the introduction of wood and natural materials. Above all, the aim is to guarantee that whatever you’re adding won’t look out of place or jar with the style of the building you’re extending.

6) Show some respect

As we can all become preoccupied with our own homes, it’s easy to neglect our neighbours when we’re planning an extension. As well as sustaining harmonious relationships with those who live next door, it’s also helpful in the planning process to ensure that your planned extension is of a reasonable size, avoids overlooking others and maintains an element of privacy. Housing developments are designed to provide a degree of space, so it’s vital that any planned extension avoids effectively joining two houses together or compromising the open feel of neighbouring residences.

 7) Think value, not cost

When planning your extension it’s easy to become obsessed with the costs, but it can be helpful to shift your thinking away from the price of each element and onto the value it can contribute to the overall look and feel of the final outcome. Ultimately, you won’t be extending to bring added value to your property in the longer term, but to improve your living space and quality of life from day one. Keep in mind the value of that, rather than the cost of achieving the build.

8) Aim high

In truth, it’s unlikely that you’ll be extending and then moving in the near future, so it’s prudent to specify the best materials, rather than try to achieve a great result on the cheap. Added to that, there is often merit in reducing the size of the extension in order to allocate funds to higher-quality materials, rather than compromise on the quality to achieve more square metres.

9) Consider starting over

While an extension is something of a fresh start, there’s also an argument for knocking your existing property down and building something new if the space you’re adding is extensive. From an environmental – and possibly emotional – perspective, it’s preferable to work with the current structure and enhance it, but a completely new build can present lots of opportunity for innovation and is potentially the only way to deliver an end result that meets all your expectations. And if you’re adding a large extension there may ultimately be less difference in the two prices than you expect.

10) Brace yourselves

The most cost-effective way to achieve your extension is clearly to continue living on-site while it’s carried out, but that can take a lot of patience and a willingness to embrace the dust and mess that will inevitably ensue. If you have friendly neighbours or accommodating parents then it can be helpful for everyone – including the builders – to vacate, although attentive project management will be required to ensure that everything remains on track.

If you’re staying on-site, encourage the construction team to seal up rooms wherever they can – that will at least minimise the spread of dust.

At the end of the day, the best approach to your home extension will depend on your site. Queenstown renovation specialist David Dolphin recently carried out a ground floor extension in Wanaka within just 12 weeks. He says the particular site he worked on “lent itself well to a ground floor extension.”

David’s project involved creating a sleepout extension, and one of the main priorities was ensuring that it matched the original house and connected to the home in a functional way.

“The room dimensions, cladding, glazing and roofline of the extension were all designed to tie in with the existing house.”

If this is the type of extension you are interested in, check out the full project to gain a thorough understanding of what type of work will likely be involved.

For further inspiration, check out our full range of home extension projects.

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Refresh Renovations are renovation builders that offer design and build services for extensions and home renovations. To discuss how Refresh can manage the environmental impact of your new-build, renovation project or home extension, please get in touch today using the enquiry form listed alongside, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.

All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.

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