MOVING ON UP

A house extension is a terrific way to improve your existing home and add more square meterage. While many house renovations involve adding more space at ground level, it might be time to think bigger…could adding a second storey to your home be an option? Read on to find out.

WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT HOUSE LIKE?

Your current house’s configuration and structure will be the guiding factor when investigating a second storey addition. If you’re in an older timber house on stumps, you’ll probably have to raise the home and build in underneath. If you’re in a single-storey brick home, adding a second storey right on top is probably the way to go. Remember, your new level doesn’t have to mirror the size of your existing home – for instance, you could add on a small two-level parents retreat at the back of the house.

WHAT CONDITION IS YOUR HOUSE IN?

If your foundation isn’t stable, it might be struggling to hold up your existing house, let alone an additional storey! Consult an engineer to find out – your Hille’s home renovations builder can help coordinate this.

WHAT RED TAPE IS THERE?

Most local councils will require some sort of building approval before you can start building. You’ll likely need finalised house designs to submit with your application, so check in with your Hille’s designer on what the process for this is.

WHAT’S YOUR LAND LIKE?

For people on a sloping block, adding a second storey may still be possible but it will come with some caveats. Your land may require some excavation work to level out the site, as well as some retaining walls to hold the earth back.

WHAT’S YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD LIKE?

If you’re in an older area with lots of heritage-protected homes, there may be design codes you have to follow to ensure your house renovation fits in with the existing character of the street. Also think about what view you’ll have on the new second storey: consider window and door placement and if you can, position them so they take advantage of light, privacy, and any killer views (i.e. try to avoid a bedroom window that looks directly into your neighbour’s toilet!).

WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCE LIKE?

As in, what are you prepared to deal with while your house renovation is taking place? Check with your builder to see if you’ll need to move out during the renovation. You may also have to put some furniture in storage, particularly if the house is being raised.

If you’re still not sure whether adding a second storey to your home is a good option for you, chat to the team at Hille’s. With experience in all sorts of house renovations under our belt – including house extensions, raising, and renovating! – we’ll be able to guide you on what’s best for your lifestyle.

STORAGE TIPS FOR LIVING THROUGH A RENOVATION

We’ve already given you tips for incorporating clever storage in your home renovation, but what about ideas for during it? Many people live in the property during house extensions or renovations, if it’s safe to do so. For most renovations, this means a temporary re-work in your living situation during the build. So how do you ensure you don’t go crazy and still feel like everything’s in order? Here’s our guide.

 

  1. GET A STORAGE ROOM

You could rent a storage unit, but a cost effective option is designating one room in the house for storage. That probably sounds unappealing, but remember it’s only temporary! Place the stuff you definitely won’t need until the renovation is over towards the back of the room. Save space for stuff you’re not sure about towards the front. Last but not least: label, label, label!

 

  1. MINIMISE THE REST OF THE HOUSE

Chances are, you’re losing a room or two during your home renovation. So it’s time to look at the space you’ve got with a minimalist mind. If you need to move excess furniture into the dining room or living room, maybe pack away any wall art or photo frames. Otherwise all those items in the room could make things feel cluttered.

 

  1. SET UP A KITCHEN CORNER

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so the idea of having to part with it for a few months during a kitchen remodel is pretty daunting. Many people set up a ‘camp kitchen’ outside on their patio or deck, and put the barbeque and camp stove to good use. For others, laundry rooms are fantastic for temporary kitchens, given the proximity to running water. If neither is an option for you, make sure you at least have a designated kitchen area somewhere. You don’t need much: set up a bar fridge, microwave, toaster, and just a few key utensils on a small table or workbench. Make sure any food preparation is confined just to this one area, to eliminate crumbs in the rest of your house. Apart from a chopping board, sharp knife, some tupperware, and a dining set per person, pack everything else away and stack it neatly in a spare room or your garage. Tripping over spare muffin tins and baking trays will just add to your renovation chaos – so pack it out of sight!

 

  1. THINK OF THE KIDS

That awesome toy room your kids love is probably the first target on your quest to find storage space during your reno! Try and soften the blow for the little ones. Take all of the toys out of the toy room first, then move in your boxes and other items for storage. Pop the toys in boxes and stack them towards the front of the room. That way, toys will be easily accessible so you can bring one box out at a time for the kiddos to use in the living room or outside. If you can, create a play corner for them in the living room or their bedroom, so they don’t feel like they’ve lost their play space entirely.

 

  1. BE SMART ABOUT LAUNDRY STORAGE

If you need to store your washing machine, make sure it’s aired out for a few days and there’s no water left in the hoses (otherwise, hello mould!). Keep a bottle of laundry detergent, your pegs, a clotheshorse, and a washing basket out – and pack everything else away.

 

With a bit of careful planning, you can make sure you’re maximising the space you’re left with while living through a home renovation.

STYLING FOR STAGING

It’s here: handover day. Your house extension or renovation is finished, you’ve bid your Hille’s builder a sweet adieu, and you’re ready to get your upgraded property on the market. Freshly renovated home extensions may be ticking all the boxes when it comes to lighting, flooring, and finishes, but what about the styling? There are some clear rules when it comes to styling a property for sale, but it doesn’t need to be hard – or expensive.

 

RULE 1: WHAT WOULD MARIE KONDO DO?

We’re not saying you should start throwing out couches and tables that don’t bring joy – instead, get rid of the clutter. This Northcote Hille’s renovation is a great example of how elegant a space can look when knick knacks are pared right back. The only thing on your kitchen bench should be perhaps a simple fruit bowl or flowers, like at this Brunswick Hille’s renovation. Clear surfaces make rooms appear bigger, and are a great way to showcase beautiful furniture or stone benchtops.

 

RULE 2: PACK AWAY PICTURES

You may love your family photos and happy snaps on display, but a potential buyer may be put off. It’s best to make your property as neutral as possible for a buyer, so they can form their own attachments to the place. Pack away any personal photographs and stick to artwork on the walls.

 

RULE 3: CLEAN!

The golden rule when styling for sale is to make sure everything is spic and span! It goes without saying that a dirty house is not appealing, and it will probably put potential buyers off. Don’t forget mirrors and windows – grubby finger marks on glass surfaces will be a total eyesore.

 

RULE 4: THE FINAL TOUCHES

Think fluffy towels in the bathroom; clean and crease-free bed covers; and nice plump throw cushions in the living room. It’s often the little things that we don’t notice unless there’s something wrong – so put your old threadbare towels out of sight and keep a new set especially for your property viewings.

 

RULE 5: WHEN IN DOUBT, OUTSOURCE!

Home extensions may mean you have a new room (or two!) that need furnishing. If you’re low on furnishings, or are selling a rental property, you might want to consider hiring a home stager. These professionals style homes for a living, and have an arsenal of chic furniture and artwork to jazz up your space. It may seem like overkill, but staging a room can help buyers see the potential in a property.

 

You’ve put a lot of effort into your house extension, so make sure it’s given the best possible chance when it comes to sale time.

HOUSE EXTENSIONS IN A NUTSHELL

House extensions can seem overwhelming for the uninitiated. What happens first? What part do you play? When does the build start? Understanding the home extension process can really help in alleviating some stresses you have, plus it gives you an understanding of the role you play, as the owner. Read on for a rapid-fire education in all things house extensions.

Stage 1: Research

Research is vital as it shapes the direction for the build. It’s about you taking time to think about your goals, tastes and budget, so that you’re armed to talk to a designer and home extension builder and start the project. First, define your overall objective: what’s the main reason you want to extend? Then, expand on that: if your reason is more space, figure out where more space would be most valuable. If your objective is to increase your rental return, do some research locally and see what features are bringing in high rents. It’s also important to figure out a budget. Your builder and designer will guide you on costs of specific features later on, so make sure you’re equipped to decide on how much you can spend.

Step 2: Plan!

Now that you’ve defined your objective and budget, you need to narrow your focus and think about finishings, fixtures, and room size. You could start by creating a dream home wishlist – sounds fun, right? Make it practical as well by including some options that can be modified based on cost or time. Next, grab a pad and pen and draw a rough design of how you envision your extension – don’t be embarrassed if it looks silly! Your designer will love that they can gain an understanding of your vision right from the first meeting.

See more tips for the planning stage in our eBook: The Hille’s Home Extensions Ultimate Extension Guide

Get out the calendar too, to see if there are any important events or deadlines coming up that your project will need to work around.

Step 3: Meet the team

If you’re using home renovations builders like Hille’s, you’ve got the advantage of working with industry professionals who are all under one roof. First, you’ll meet the designer. Their role is key: without plans, the build can’t start! Designers also have an excellent knowledge of any structural considerations and regulatory requirements that need to be followed.

After your first site visit with your designer, you’ll get a rough estimate from them that takes into account your requirements and objectives. You’ll also have the option to get the design drawn up, usually via a 3D computer model. Before these official plans are created, you’ll work with the designer on hand-drawn sketches, perhaps modifying your initial scribbles to include their expertise on what will work spatially.

Your designer or project coordinator will also collect other documents that the builder needs. These include engineering documentation, and information about the materials, finishes, standards, and products used in your build.

In addition to doing the obvious – build! – builders are a key point in your renovation team, acting as the conduit between the design and the final product. They work closely with you, the designer, and other tradespeople to ensure the project is running on-time and on-brief. They can also offer valuable insight and opinions.

Step 4: Approvals

Hille’s will source all approvals and permits for your home renovation. Approvals can include council approvals, permits related to certain aspects of the build, and sometimes approvals related to the environmental effect of the build.

Step 5: The Build

Once everything is approved and the build commences, you will still be very much involved. You’ll attend regular site meetings with your designer and builder, which will give you a chance to check out the progress, and make any final decisions on fittings and finishes. It’s also very rewarding to watch your renovation take shape.

What’s Next?

Get more of an insight into a house extension and download our eBook, or contact the team at Hille’s today.

WET AREAS 101

 What is it about wet areas that can strike fear into renovators? Home renovations involving the kitchen, bathroom, or the laundry (or all three – lucky you!) don’t need to be stressful. Yes, there’s a lot involved with renovating these areas, but with some careful planning, you can make sure they shine as much as the rest of the house.

Layout

Remember the golden triangle with kitchen design. Whether you choose a galley kitchen style or a traditional kitchen with a breakfast bar, make sure you adhere to the golden triangle as best you can: the sink, fridge and stove should form a triangle with 1-2 metres of space between each for ease of use.

Bathrooms need thought, too. Don’t place your towel holder somewhere totally out of reach to the shower. If you’re working with a small space, ensure your vanity cupboard has room for a door to swing open. And no one wants to see the toilet when they’re walking past an open bathroom door!

Laundries are often where people go wrong. Renovators often stick to a vanilla script when planning the laundry, and hurriedly choose wall to wall cabinets and benchtops. But your laundry should be shaped to fit your needs: a mudroom-style laundry, with cubby spaces for shoes and bags, is great for busy families with kids.

Storage

Kitchens are not one size fits all. Get creative and think about what you most use in your kitchen. Your Hille’s home renovations builders will help with your kitchen design, but it pays to think about how you use the space. If you love spices, you’ll find a space drawer handy. Wine lovers will favour a built-in bottle rack. And entertainers will get plenty of use out of a large island with lots of seating.

Don’t forget the ironing board! A tall, skinny cupboard is often overlooked in a laundry. There are numerous items that you can store in here – an ironing board, mops and brooms all need a nice tidy place to live. If you’ve got a cordless vacuum, you could install your charging bracket in here too, out of sight.

Bathrooms can be a storage goldmine. Many people forget about the storage potential of bathrooms. Wall-mount vanities are popular, but you’ll sacrifice valuable under-sink storage space. Similarly, instead of hanging a mirror on the wall, consider a shaving cabinet with hidden storage inside.

The Finishing Touches

Tying it all together is hard, but worth it. Many home renovators think this means matching a tile or two between rooms, but that’s just not the case. While that’s a sensible idea, ultimately you need to think of the bigger picture. Don’t create a beautiful Hamptons-style kitchen and then a blue and gold Moroccan bathroom. Keep your style consistent between all of your wet areas. This counts for even the tapware – don’t use farmhouse-style taps in the kitchen and then modern chrome mixers in the bathroom.

Power points! Often overlooked, powerpoint placement is so important in all wet areas. Try to hide powerpoints in cabinets as much as you can – think one for the washing machine, one for the microwave, and one in a shaving cabinet.

They’re rooms you spend a lot of time in, so it pays to plan ahead when renovating your bathroom, kitchen and laundry. For help with creating your perfect wet area, talk to a Hille’s home renovations builder today.

Bumping out or bumping up?

Having the expertise of quality home renovation builders and designers means there’s a huge amount of possibility when it comes to modifying your house. For many timber-framed homes, house extensions are an option as well as raising and building underneath. Like anything with home renovations, there’s pros and cons for both options.

 

The cost could be significantly different

House extension costs can vary hugely depending on the plans, but if you’re looking at just a small addition to your home, an extension could be lower in cost than raising. Raising and building underneath means a new concrete slab; whereas for many extensions, a slab isn’t required. It all comes down to what you’re trying to achieve with your home renovation: if it’s simply adding a room or two, or opening up the space, raising the house would probably be a costlier option that isn’t even suitable for your needs.

 

You could sacrifice a blank slate

When raising a home, the new level underneath often has to mirror the upstairs layout: foundations and load-bearing walls need to be put in particular spots to support the upper level. By contrast however, with house extensions you could have the opportunity for a blank slate. Depending on the size of your lot and how it’s laid out, you might have more freedom with the configuration of your new space.

 

Speed is key!

Raising a house can be a lengthier process, simply because there’s often more prep work required before the build can commence. Not only does the house have to be raised, but it needs re-stumping; the land underneath will often need to be excavated and levelled; and finally, the new concrete slab will need to be poured and set. Obviously for many house extensions, the majority of those steps can be skipped: while some excavation and levelling may still be necessary, the biggest time-saving is the absence of a concrete slab – which can take up to four weeks to cure before building can even start!

 

Ultimately, whether you bump up or bump out will depend on what you’re trying to achieve with your renovation; the layout of your existing structure; and how much space you have to work with. Hille’s home renovation builders and designers are on hand to help guide you in the right direction – give us a call today to find out more.

 

Scrimp vs Splurge with your House Renovation

Home renovations are a considerable investment, and probably something that’s been your savings goal for a while. On the flip side, if you’re lucky enough to have a big budget, house extension costs won’t be as much of an issue (lucky you!). For most builds, there’s opportunity to both scrimp on some things and save some money, as well as spend on other items that are worth the extra dosh.

Here are our tips for where you can save your pennies and when it might be okay to let loose a bit.

 

Design

Scrimp: if you’re doing a house extension, see if you can add the new area on without reconfiguring your existing floor plan. It will likely save you a lot if you can make minimal adjustments to your existing structure.

Scrimp: if raising a house, align the new wet areas underneath the old ones above. This will save on plumbing costs.

Splurge: extra windows may cost more but they’re usually worth it. In cool climates, placing windows where they’ll catch the morning sun could even help reduce your heating bill.

Splurge: similarly, houses in hot weather climates need to consider their position with the sun. Typically, the north side of the house will get the most sun in the morning, so you could make sure those areas are well-shaded with a covered verandah, or trees and vegetation. You could also consider glazing or shutters so that you can keep the sun out during the hot parts of the day.

 

Flooring

Scrimp: there’s a myriad of flooring options, so do your research if you’re on a budget. Vinyl plank is a low-cost product that’s gaining popularity, while even tiles can vary hugely in product and installation costs. Generally, rectified tiles and small tiles will be more expensive as they take more time to install.

 

Wet areas

Scrimp: floor-to-ceiling tiles look fantastic but make costs skyrocket. Consider doing a tiled skirting, then just tiling to the ceiling near the sink and behind the shower. You’ll still get that wow factor, but for less. You can also achieve a high-impact look on a budget by using a contrasting feature tile for a vanity backsplash, rather than an entire wall.

 

The kitchen

Splurge: a good rule of thumb is to splurge in the rooms you love the most. If you’re a foodie and cook a lot, consider nifty options like custom cabinets, soft-close drawers, and a huge pantry. Even people who don’t cook often find themselves in the kitchen a lot, entertaining friends – in which case, you’ll notice wear and tear on a cheap benchtop pretty fast.

 

The bedroom

Scrimp: if you’ve got a walk-in wardrobe, leaving the shelving open can save money, plus it makes everything easily accessible.

 

Power

Scrimp: gorgeous pendant lights look fantastic but can drive up costs. Work with your electrician instead on how to make the most of the space with simple LED downlights. Lamps can add a bit of style and colour.

Splurge: energy efficient bulbs are a case of pay now, save later. They may cost more than incandescent bulbs, but they’ll immediately reduce your electricity bill.

Splurge: solar heating could be a house renovation cost you didn’t initially consider, but it can ultimately save you some money on your electricity bill in the long run. It will also help with your property’s energy star rating – remember, other options for achieving your energy rating may end up being more costly than solar.

 

Home extension costs can add up, but if you do your research, you’ll make sure the money is being spent on the areas that matter the most.

Landscaping Projects for your Home Renovation that Could Improve the Value of your Home.

Most home renovation work we do involve the owner getting some kind of landscaping work done. If you are in need to know what project to focus on for your home renovation project – because not all landscaping work can add value to your home. Here are some that will.

 

Build a deck

What Aussie doesn’t love a deck? So this is no-brainer for any backyard, large or small. The great feature of any deck is that it basically adds another room to your home renovation – and you can create an outdoor living area for relaxing or entertaining.

 

Lay new lawn

Getting a new lawn is a great idea if your current lawn is looking worse for wear or non-existent in places. We find this a very popular option when some do their home renovation as it’s like the cherry on top of the proverbial desert. If you are looking at a new lawn and then put your property on the market then this feature will impress buyers at an open house and is sure to enhance your kerb appeal.

Add an outdoor room

Together with a deck, and outdoor room is a great way to add value to your home renovation. Some real estate agents will quote it as an additional room in their advertising –

though it does need to be well integrated and to warrant this. If you have a patio, roofing it and adding furniture may be all it takes to create an outdoor room.

 

Lay paving

Paving is a relatively low-cost addition to your home renovation and can definitely add some value to your home, and like decking, it can make an area more practical and useful. This is especially true for patios, pathways, garden paths and the area around a swimming pool.

Keep it all maintained

It’s all very well investing in improving your garden, but so many people then neglect all the hard work later. Neglecting your backyard is basically throwing money away. Plants need to be watered, trimmed and fed, weeds need to be pulled and pools need to be maintained. If you get landscaping done at the same time as your home renovation, then have a plan to keep it maintained. Unlike your new space, your new garden will not look after yourself.

Landscape Design

Lets just be clear landscaping jobs that may not realise a return.
Just as there are projects that will add value to your home, think twice about some jobs – especially if you are doing a home renovation to sell later. You may not recover the costs or outlay of your job. Be prepared to increase your budget if you have any of these jobs on your list:

Excavation: if you live on a sloping block, or need large rocks removed this can take time, which always cost money

Retaining walls: these may also require excavation or the services of a structural engineer

Pool: installing a pool is a serious undertaking that is also a significant investment, so make sure you do your homework before you decide you want to take this on

Driveway: if you are paving or concreting your driveway be prepared to bump up your overall landscaping budget

You also need to know what type of landscaping professional is right for you and your job, as this can impact the overall cost of your project.

A landscape architect is more suited to large projects where all the various elements need to integrate. They focus more on the design and planning stages of your project but can also help supervise a project. To get this kind of attention will definitely cost more but it does come down to bang for buck.

A landscape designer, however, has a similar skill set to a landscape architect, though will generally work on smaller projects and therefore more affordable.

Landscape contractors, often also called landscapers, are another option. They can also handle design and should have great practical insights and advice to share about your project.

Hiring a professional landscaper ensures your new garden is landscaped cost effectively. They’ll also be able to suggest new ideas, show you innovative products and help you understand how to maintain your new garden which is important as you don’t invest in something that has no longevity.

When it comes time to hiring a landscaper make sure they are the right person for your job.

 

Some important questions to ask them could be the following:

Are you licensed for my project?

Do you hold valid insurance?

Can you provide a proper quote?

How long will my job approximately take?

Do you have references in the area I can follow up?

The best way of finding out the cost of your landscaping job is to get quotes from local landscapers. Be sure to provide enough details about your property, vision and budget – this will enable them to provide an accurate quote. Expect them to visit your property and chat through your ideas with you.

Like your home renovation, it always pays to do your research and do your homework for your landscaping job and only use reputable, and where possible licensed builders.

Do I stay or do I go when it comes to home renovations and extensions?

A home renovation or extension brings with it many questions: how many rooms? How to configure the space? Open plan or cosy? For owner-occupiers, there’s one other question that is often lost in the excitement of planning an extension and renovation design: are you prepared to live through it?

The majority of house renovations will require homeowners to vacate the premises during key points of the build; but for many projects, living on-site for virtually the whole time is possible. Let’s break down staying versus moving out.

 

Stay!

  • You’ll save money. Unless you have a very generous friend or family member with extra room, living away from the home will mean shelling out to stay in a hotel, Air B’n’B or a rental property. This is something to think about when you’re already dealing with the costs of a home renovation.

Tip: Stay, but take two-night hotel breaks here and there during the build.

  • You’ll watch everything unfold. Seeing your house renovation ideas come to life is exciting, and architecture buffs will love watching the build take shape. Living off-site limits you from seeing everything come together (although, rest assured your Hille’s builder is on site to make sure it does!).
  • Your routine won’t be impacted. You won’t have to think of a new route to school or work, or deal with the annoyance of temporarily packing up your life.

 

Go!

  • You won’t get in the way. Building sites and the contractors working on them are carefully managed to ensure projects get delivered on time and on budget – so sometimes it’s best to stay out of the way. It could be annoying for you too, depending on how your house is configured – if your existing living area isn’t totally separate from the new build, doing simple things like going to the bathroom could equate to a monumental trek across a building site!
  • You won’t go crazy. We won’t lie: a renovation site is dusty, dirty, and noisy. Small children may struggle to nap during the day when workers are on-site.
  • It’s a good excuse for a holiday! Or why not explore your city and live in a new part of Melbourne during the renovation?
  • No microwave meals! If your kitchen is a part of the home renovation, you’ll have to think creatively about meals for awhile if you stay. You may be able to set up a temporary kitchen with a microwave, kettle and slow cooker, but not having a dishwasher or oven can be difficult.

 

Ultimately, whether you live in the house or not during a your home renovation and extension will come down to your lifestyle, budget and the work that’s being carried out. Either way, it’s a good idea to be prepared to be flexible.

house extension tips image of house

House Extension Tips from your Trusted Home Renovation Contractors

There are many reasons why homeowners want a bigger space for their home: a growing family, a need to have an office for a blooming home-based business, while some just want to have an extra space to accommodate their visiting friends and relatives.  That’s why our house extension tips can provide an important checklist of items you need to consider…

Instead of moving to a bigger place, it can be more economical to give your house an extension and gain much needed space. Speak to the renovation experts at Hille’s Home Extensions before you start the project and keep following tips in mind Read more “House Extension Tips from your Trusted Home Renovation Contractors”