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Going up? Things To Think About When Considering a Second Storey.

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It’s the age-old question of upgrading: should you sell your current home and buy a bigger one, or stay put and extend? Doug Ross from view.com.au runs us through some points to consider.

If done effectively, and without any unforeseeable disasters, adding a second storey to your home can be one of the best ways to dramatically increase equity in your existing house, while providing you with an entirely new way of interacting with and enjoying your property.

Perhaps you bought a nice suburban three-bedroom home 15 years ago and have spent these years paying off the mortgage. Beyond the obvious capital gains you have probably already made, you may be considering the addition of extra bedrooms up top as a means to attract a greater price at auction or just to enjoy a view that has been cruelly denied to you due to your neighbour’s longtime love affair with the admittedly beautiful but famously tall grey gum tree. So what are your initial steps for adding a second storey to your home? 

WEIGH UP YOUR OPTIONS 

First of all, it takes on average between 12 and 20 weeks to add a second storey. Are you ready for that? There are alternatives to adding a second storey to your home, and they could work better for you. It is an unavoidably expensive way to renovate, even if the investment is matched by the increase in equity, and often involves homeowners having to vacate the property at certain stages (such as when there is no roof). Your best alternative is to build out. It involves fewer considerations and risks, if you have the space.

You may also want to consider selling the home and either building a two-storey home from scratch or buying a two-storey home, if this works out as a financially smarter option. Is adding a second storey to your dwelling even feasible? It may not always be possible, or at least financially prudent, to add a second storey to some houses. This is where the next step comes in. 

SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP 

A building surveyor can gauge whether your building will take the extra load of a second storey. They will be able to give you a better idea of some of the hidden costs (i.e. the extent of rewiring/plumbing the home, expected time without a roof, ability to recycle materials and so on).

If you're still determined to add a second storey, then it’s time to draw up plans. An architect or a draftsperson is integral to adding value to your extension and making sure the costs of the project create income in the future. A professional with experience in both your style of home as well as with extensions to existing structures will be able to help guide you over the hurdles of planning applications, building regulations and zoning restrictions.

They will also be able to apply innovative solutions to the designs. This helps to save space and enhance the way you experience your new home – things such as the amount of space you'll need to accommodate a staircase. An architect can find solutions that minimise the impact of this requirement. 

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT 

Once you have interviewed a number of builders and checked that they are registered with the Victorian Building Authority, it’s time to make sure the contract is right for you. In Victoria you are required by law to have a major domestic building contract for any domestic works that exceed $10,000 in scale, which applies for almost any extension.

There are also a few other i’s to dot and t’s to cross with the contract you sign with your builder:

• What are your rights and what are the processes for changes made to the plans during construction? Is there a clause that allows for changes?

• What is the payment process? Is it monthly or do you pay for particular milestones achieved in the project?

• What does the price include: planning permits, mandatory council inspections, lodgement fees, government levy fees? Is the price fixed?

Be aware of cost-price methods in construction. Some builders might want to charge hourly; on a large project such as a second storey, this is not common. A builder should work from your plans to estimate the costs of the project, accommodating for possible complications or even wage increases. 

 

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