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Ask RiotACT: Home extension – where to start?

By bundahgal - 24 July 2016 9

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Hello Rioters,

We’re in a small two bedroom single level duplex, but are feeling the squeeze. We’d love to stay in the hood (Narrabundah), so we think extending might be the way to go as we’re unlikely to find a bigger house that we can afford in the area. We’re thinking it might be a good idea to engage an architect. Our house is a 1950s ex-govie and we want the addition to be sympathetic to the house’s character. Can anyone recommend a decent architect who fits the bill? Any idea on what the fees are like? We have no idea where to start so any information is appreciated!

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
Ask RiotACT: Home extension – where to start?
Steph101 6:05 pm 26 Sep 17

We’ve used Luke from Fresh Renovation & Construction in the past and had great success. They specialise in extensions and home renovation but literally did everything at our place in Garran from gutting the the entire residence to extending and landscaping. Luke also gave us referrals to designers and architects that he worked with ( one of which we chose ) which was great as they collaborated throughout the design stage. contact them here freshrenovation.com.au

bundahgal 9:37 pm 27 Jul 16

Thanks for all the tips – very helpful starting point.

Ezy 8:28 am 27 Jul 16

dungfungus said :

I’d have a chat to Jigsaw Housing – I came across their website one day and had a good read of all of their articles about taking advantage of the sun + building aspects etc. If I were to build new, or extend in the future I would definitely chat to them for some guidance.

http://www.jigsawhousing.com.au

A little story based on work by the same company… it looks like they have had a restructure, or name change.

http://www.allhomes.com.au/news/solar-houses-to-be-showcased-across-canberra-20160725-gqcwjc/

OldOwl 5:41 pm 25 Jul 16

If you do go ahead with an extension in the ACT it might pay to ensure:
– you have a formal building contract, not just a quote and acceptance. Technically a formal building contract is required for building jobs meeting or exceeding some amount ($12,500?) in the ACT but I have seen builders simply quote for jobs in excess of this amount. As the policing of builders in the ACT is less than brilliant you are stuffed without a formal contract. Spend the small amount needed to get a decent lawyer to check the contract;
– contract with the builder holding the building licence, and not a separate “contracting company” with a licence;
– ask around about good certifiers – the builder doesn’t appoint the certifier – you do.

I think it is best to get an architect to draw up plans – they will generally make items much clearer which helps with costing & choosing specs. Then get tenders from builders you hear good things about. If you sign on with a builder having them doing the drafting, then it’s not clear what incentive they have to not do the cheapest building they can get away with – or alternatively charge you massive overruns when down the line you realise you don’t want the specs set-out by the builder. I agree with the comment that suggests it might well be worth getting an architect to run the project.

I guess it all comes down to doing your homework – and good luck – choice of builder is fundamental to ensuring a good experience.

Ezy 4:18 pm 25 Jul 16

I’d have a chat to Jigsaw Housing – I came across their website one day and had a good read of all of their articles about taking advantage of the sun + building aspects etc. If I were to build new, or extend in the future I would definitely chat to them for some guidance.

http://www.jigsawhousing.com.au

Rollersk8r 2:26 pm 25 Jul 16

We went a fair way down the road to extending with ABC Constructions. They were great, would definitely recommend their service. However, we could have built a brand new house for the cost of what the extension was going to be. Ended up making more sense to move.

crackerpants 11:25 am 25 Jul 16

We started talking to builders. Long story short, we’re going with an architect. Expect to pay around $20,000+ all up – for us this is all building design, documentation with relevant agencies, interior design, and then architectural oversight of the build itself. From reading, fees seem to be around 10-15% of total build budget. A builder may or may not come up with a good design, but in our experience they were looking for the path of least resistance. Whereas our architect has worked extensively with us to make the most of the site (land use and energy efficiency), work in sympathy with the original design (which we love, and was architect-designed), as well as our needs as a growing family, plus futureproofing where we can (accommodating ageing parents in future etc).

We are using The Mill Design, recommended to us by one of the builders I approached. Their work is online, and includes an extension/reno to a duplex in Dickson of similar vintage to yours. Google is your friend – by looking through galleries of various builders and architectural firms, you’ll get an idea pretty quickly of who is going to give you the best, most sympathetic design, and who is going to give you a “Gungahlin house” (a builder’s term, not mine).

There was one particular firm based in Queanbeyan who “sacked” us as clients, because, as a self-proclaimed one-stop-shop, we didn’t fit their business model, which is timetable based and doesn’t allow time to mull over option and be comfortable that you’re getting it right. For us, this project is far too important to rush through on someone else’s schedule – and rushing does not bode well for getting value-for-money! Good luck!

Masquara 4:26 pm 24 Jul 16

Quite a few builders around the traps do their own drafting – if you can identify a good extension of a similar house to yours, just take some notes (even ask the owners if they mind if you crib – especially if they aren’t in your immediate neighbourhood) and a good builder can often save you the architect fee.

ungruntled 2:15 pm 24 Jul 16

You can check with the Institute of Architects as to what fees are normally charged. Last I knew it was worked on a percentage basis, but that was many moons ago.
If you’re not experienced in building & design, I really do recommend using an architect – better design doesn’t necessarily mean more money, but usually a better result for the money you spend.
As with everything else, talk to some of their past clients & look at some of their work before settling on a choice.
Good luck & don’t use BuildIt for the construction – just that my experience was awful.

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