PROPERTY NEWS - A home extension can be a useful way to add space, liveability and value to your home. The right planning, advice and discipline will ensure that your home renovation project goes off without a hitch.
Not sure where to start? We've got your back with this helpful 12-point guide.
Here's what to keep in mind:
Where do I start?
The design stage of the project is the first step in any home extension plan. Every home extension requires a custom plan, which can be completed by appointing the help of a professional draughtsman, a building designer or an architect. This is your opportunity to improve the liveability of your home, as well as the chance to add value to the property. For this reason, choosing the right person for the job is essential.
Do I require planning permission?
By law, homeowners must ensure that any new building or renovation plans for their property have been approved by the relevant local authorities. Whether you want to build a new wall around the property; build a swimming pool; add on a room, a second storey, or a new wing, it is important to liaise with the planning department of your local municipality as you may require planning permission before proceeding. This can be achieved by appointing a qualified architect or draughtsman to draw up and submit the building plans to your local municipal planning department. It is important to also keep in mind the fee structure that the process entails. For smaller home alterations, a draughtsman would be better suited and more cost-effective.
Who am I building for?
Many homeowners plunge ahead with their extension project but put very little thought into what they are trying to achieve. It is imperative to establish what the purpose of your home extension is. Your extension plans should never be a listing of random thoughts and ideas you have collected over the years. Instead, it should reflect any personal and unique aspects that comprise the purpose of the extension.
Do I have enough space to extend?
Are you looking for a new living area that the whole family can enjoy, an extra bedroom for a new arrival or a home office? Knowing exactly what your home extension will be used for will also help to determine the kind of alteration you need, which in turn will give you an indication of how much space you need for the extension.
- To visualise the space needed, use a rope to map out the extension plan.
- Use the size of your existing rooms as a guide to gauge how big each room should be.
- Stand back and assess whether you are happy with the space remaining afterwards.
Up, down, or out to the side?
Deciding which part of the home to extend is the next big decision. If you don't have enough space to extend at ground level, you may need to consider adding a second storey.
An additional level to your home is a great way to retain backyard space. However, it can be a costlier project as it requires more work in removing the roof structure, replacing it with a new floor structure and supporting the new upper-floor walls. It is important to also consider what it will look like.
Will my plan impact on my neighbours?
It's important to take into account the effect your home extension will have on your neighbours, especially if you are making major alterations to your property. If you share a wall with your neighbours, you will need to consider if your home alterations may potentially damage their property. There is also the social aspect to consider, as your plans may affect their quality of life during the construction period, so it's wise to keep your neighbours fully informed of your intentions right from the start.
Do my neighbours have a say?
While you should keep your neighbours informed of your plans to extend, there is no legal requirement from the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (NBA) requiring home owners to submit or inform their neighbours of their building plan application. However, depending on the area you live in and its policies, a neighbour can be at liberty to object against your home extension, if the area policy implemented by local authority allows for it. In this case, a neighbour can submit their objection, but it won't necessarily prevent the building plans from being approved. While the municipality can acknowledge the objection, it is up to local authority to make up its mind about approving the plans or not.
What are the costs involved?
One of the central elements of a home extension is the demolition work required and the costs that come along with it. It is important to bear in mind that each wall demolished will require the involvement of several tradespeople. This may include carpenters, plasterboard experts and painters, and depending on the rooms affected, you may need to enlist the help of electricians, plumbers and tilers as well. It is essential that these additional costs are accounted for in your project's budget.
Will it brighten up the house?
One of the key considerations when extending your home is to investigate the most effective ways to bring more sunlight and warmth into the house, especially if you are adding a living room or family room that you will spend a lot of time in. Having more natural sunlight will make it a more comfortable space to live in, and will also reduce the amount of artificial heating required. However, while an excessive amount of sunlight may be wonderful in winter, the opposite can be said for a scorching hot summer's day, so you should be very aware of the amount of sunlight the windows will be exposed to when including large windows into your design.
Would I need to move out?
Being able to live in the house throughout the build can be less expensive and more convenient, as you can avoid having to uproot your life and routine. However, an extension project which involves a significant amount of renovation work to an existing part of the house might be difficult to live with. In these circumstances, you can arrange to have the extension project staged so that you can move from one part of the house to the next. However, a staged building project generally takes longer to complete - which means it may be costlier.
How do I find a builder?
Finding the right building contractor is one of, if not the most, important factor to consider. It is crucial to appoint a builder who is registered with a professional, reputable organisation.
In South Africa, there are two primary building bodies, the Master Builders Association South Africa (MBSA) and National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). Recommendations are also important. You should choose a builder who is experienced in doing similar work and within budgets similar to yours.
Consider asking friends and colleagues for their recommendations and create a shortlist of builders to get quotes from. Based on the quotations you receive for their pricing and workmanship, you will be able to choose a builder that is best suited for the job.
How long will it take?
If you are adding only a small amount of space under an existing roofline and don't require a full range of tradespeople to complete the job, a quick and simple extension can take between four and six weeks.
A similar timeline would apply if you were adding a kitchen or bathroom.
However, for large extensions that involve a lot of renovations to the existing house, the time frame is more likely to be between three and six months or longer, especially if the extension involves a second storey addition.
It is advisable to set yourself a strict timetable for completion.
Don't underestimate the impact that building an extension can have on your quality of life, and try to minimise that impact.
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