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Once the decision to extend has been made, it is a good idea, if you are relatively new to the house, to live in the existing home as it is for a period to get the feel of the place, which will help you greatly with your plans.

It is vitally important not to inhibit your imagination when thinking out your extensions. You must try to ignore the present use of existing rooms. For example your extension may include a family room but it may be a better approach to call the existing lounge a family room, then concentrate your energies on designing a new lounge room.

The key to a successful home improvement is planning. You must, if possible, take into consideration how long you will be living in the house. You may be planning to have a larger family in the future, and as a result, it may be wiser to put a larger proportion of your budget into new bedrooms. These rooms, in turn as the family becomes older may be converted to suit use as a study or business office. Try to utilise your electrical and plumbing services to allow for these future conversions.

There are many older homes which provide wonderful opportunities for improvement. Quite often, the older the house the more interesting possibilities it is likely to have. Whereas a newer house is unlikely to need structural repairs or alterations making it less adaptable.

Re-organisation of space can completely change a home. Walls can be removed to create endless possibilities at surprisingly low cost. For example, what was once a pokey little dining room with an adjoining kitchen can become a spacious kitchen/dining area.

When planning the position of new rooms, keep in mind the position of summer and winter sun and their varying angles and the direction of prominent and prevailing breezes. You may be wanting to include passive solar heating and deciduous trees to assist with temperature control in your new rooms.

Once you have finalised your own ideas of what you need from your extension, you will have to consult a draftsman to have your plans prepared for submission to the local authorities. Your final plans should be placed in consideration of the following:

  • The most aesthetically desirable position of the extension as well as aspect and cost efficiency.
  • Positioning or re-positioning or load bearing walls and any other structural consideration.
  • Local authority regulations in relation to distance from boundaries and the percentage of the land permitted to be covered by buildings.

Any extension should never appear to have been tacked on to the house as this will inevitably effect the re-sale value. It is wise, if possible, to match up building materials, so that the house does not look as though bits have been added. Likewise the roofline should marry together.

When estimating extensions or renovations always allow extra for hidden costs which may not be evident at the start. You may find, especially in older homes, that the condition of building materials hidden from view, behind a wall for example or under the house, may have deteriorated since the home was built. These additional factors may alter your original cost estimate, if they were not obvious and allowed for in your budget.

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