An estimated $2.2bn was spent on alterations and additions to residential buildings in the first quarter of this year, showing the popularity of upscaling and improving existing homes.
Increasing the size of your home has never been easier with the invention of strong, durable and lightweight modern materials, however, it’s important to make the most of the opportunity by adding not just room, but life to your home.
“While increasing square feet is an obvious benefit of any home addition, it should also be an opportunity to consider your block and how you live, to define the new space and redefine the entire home,” says architect Joe Snell.
Here, Joe provides his tips on how to question your home addition plans to make your new space greater than the sum of its parts:
Know your needs, now and in the future
From getting up, to getting to bed, we do a lot in our homes and it can be hard to understand all of our needs of a house. Focus down on your most important times of day and build back from there. For example, if you’re a great entertainer or enjoy family meals you might consider an extension to create a dining alfresco space that can be used year-round. Conversely, if ensuring the whole family enjoys a silent night is a must, you may choose a to build a well-insulated second floor addition. You may also be able to combine these two goals by creating a cantilevered second floor over a ground floor deck.
Know your home
The basics of home design rely on five key concepts (light, sound, space, view and air). Creating an addition offers the opportunity to harness these concepts to improve the experience of living in the home.
A tried and tested way to do this is to create a modern addition, as the style lends itself to large expanses of glazing improving daylight into the home as well as framing the views you want to capture. In addition to naturally improving light levels these windows can be used to encourage cross ventilation, raising air quality. An extension toward the back of the home will generally create a quieter space away from the street and if placed on the ground floor can open up long lines of sight, giving a feeling of additional space.
Make more room
Despite huge advancements in building materials, including Australia’s own Premium Fibre Cement products, many of us go straight to brick when thinking of home additions. Compared to brick, products like Matrix panels, Axon Cladding, Linea Weatherboard and Stria Cladding all provide subtle benefits to floor space.
Using these products can add up to 100-to-130mm additional depth at each external wall, as they have a thinner profile at approximately 130mm, with double brick and brick-veneer walls generally being 230-to- 270mm thick in comparison.
Due its lightweight formulation compared to masonry, Premium Fibre Cement cladding is naturally lighter which means it is generally less expensive to create cantilevered upper levels. This gives your designs the opportunity to establish more cost-effective floor space upstairs at the same time as creating dynamic and shaded areas downstairs. The win-win is that this type of lightweight design can add to your inside-outside alfresco lifestyle.
Create contrast and continuity
A good addition doesn’t have to meld seamlessly into an existing building, in fact there is a trend toward making modern a statement that departs from traditional facades. The trick here is making the two work together and not against each other.
While an addition creates an opportunity for a contemporary transformation, it has to work with the existing building by creating common ground while observing the basic tenants of the chosen modern look. From Mid Century to minimalist, these will generally include a bold, simple profile, large format glazing, a well-considered choice of cladding and colour, and a lack of ornamentation.
Whether you’re making room for a growing family or to get more out of your home, it’s important to think about adding more life to your home, not just more space.
–Joe Snell is an architect and an ambassador for James Hardie. James Hardie’s range of cladding can be mixed and matched to a specific look or to create a personal style. Most come primed and ready to paint to any desired hue and resist flaking, warping or swelling, meaning they require less maintenance to keep the look.