Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Ask RiotACT

Charity and fundraising auctions for the Canberra community

Ask RiotACT: Small house extension advice

By spades - 18 June 2017 10

Ask RiotACT

We bought a property with a 150sqm house built in the 70’s. It is exactly as you’re imagining it to be right now. A rectangular box with brick veneer walls. It does not stand out and, by today’s architectural standards, is probably considered boring and outdated.

Because of our growing family, having just one living area doesn’t seem to cut it. We’d like to add a second living area by simply “slapping on” a 30sqm box behind our house. Now I’m thinking this is a fairly simple and straightforward job. No mucking around with kitchens, bathrooms, or any sort of plumbing. We just want a brick veneer room with 2 windows and a patio door.

I’ve been told by more than one person that builders in Canberra are not all that interested in small jobs. And to as a way to discourage small jobs, I’m likely to be given overpriced quotes which includes a “call out fee”.

Has anyone who’s done anything similar have any advice? Better yet, can anyone recommend builders happy to work on smaller extensions? I have been given recommendations but mainly by people who have had more complex renovations. When their builders hear what I want to do, they seem to be less interested. Kinda understandable. They’re probably asking themselves, “why bother with a 3 week project when I can easily find a 6 month project?”

On a side note, I bumped into this article today: Want to extend your home? Make sure you don’t lose more than you gain/

Any thoughts? I’m not looking at building a weatherboard extension on a brick veneer home. Nothing wrong with having a box behind the main house as long as it’s consistent.

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
10 Responses to
Ask RiotACT: Small house extension advice
1
K_c24 2:20 pm
18 Jun 17
#

Have you got all your designs and building consents etc sorted out?
As far as finding people to do smaller jobs, try Gumtree. There’s often young tradies just starting out, post apprenticeship, who are keen for this kind of work, either as their own boss or on top of their day to day. Lots of ads on there. It sounds simple enough to be done by a single tradesman overseeing the various trades (usually their other mate tradies). You might have to be flexible when they can do it as they might want to work a series of weekends or afternoons. And also, you might want to be open to getting it done for cash, as that’s how a lot of these boys will work. Just sayin’.

2
DeadlySchnauzer 2:58 pm
18 Jun 17
#

What you have heard to some degree is correct, the big name builders around the place won’t touch something that size. I have gone through a similar thing with an even smaller job (garage conversion). However there are plenty of smaller builders around who would consider your extension a good job, they are the ones you want to talk to.

Just lookup “Extensions” or “Renovations” in the yellow pages and give people a call… I just straight out asked them if they thought my job was too small to take on.

I ended up using Kenro Services and was very happy with them.

3
K_c24 5:21 pm
18 Jun 17
#

My brother at Ariston Building Services might be able to help you. His number is 0413267570

4
Maya123 6:50 pm
18 Jun 17
#

You have the chance to make sure the windows face north to bring in the sun for free heating; you have the chance to make sure you insulate this section of your house properly. Don’t waste this chance. Are you building this on a slab? Then insulate the edges. Other things can be done too, but those are the simple basics. Don’t just add a box without thinking of these things. At least it doesn’t sound like one of those add on ‘pimples’ on the roof people used to do. As well as visually very ugly (and a turn off to many buyers), I have been told cold in winter and hot in summer too, because good insulation was never considered. But hey, electricity used to be cheap and was never going to increase, so why care!

5
Another OptimisticPe 8:16 pm
18 Jun 17
#

If you engage a builder you’ll be paying the Canberra tax!
Get plans drawn, approved, find a certifier, then Owner Build unless it is a complicated site. A single level 6×5 extension without plumbing isn’t difficult.

6
McGreggor 6:49 am
19 Jun 17
#

Maya123 said :

You have the chance to make sure the windows face north to bring in the sun for free heating; you have the chance to make sure you insulate this section of your house properly. Don’t waste this chance. Are you building this on a slab? Then insulate the edges. Other things can be done too, but those are the simple basics. Don’t just add a box without thinking of these things. At least it doesn’t sound like one of those add on ‘pimples’ on the roof people used to do. As well as visually very ugly (and a turn off to many buyers), I have been told cold in winter and hot in summer too, because good insulation was never considered. But hey, electricity used to be cheap and was never going to increase, so why care!

Plus one !

As option is to zone your new extension by providing an air lock door, use a double stud wall to allow for more insulation, timber floors are easy to insulate, concrete slab s can also have insulation underneath as well as around the perimeter, building wraps can provide airtightness!
If you can’t afford double or triple glazing make you sure you consider thick curtains.
Good luck and have fun!

7
spades 10:16 am
19 Jun 17
#

K_c24 said :

As far as finding people to do smaller jobs, try Gumtree. There’s often young tradies just starting out, post apprenticeship, who are keen for this kind of work, either as their own boss or on top of their day to day. Lots of ads on there. It sounds simple enough to be done by a single tradesman overseeing the various trades (usually their other mate tradies)

What you’re suggesting is I become an owner builder (which requires me to be licensed) or get someone to oversee it (which requires them being a licensed builder). Apprentices in Gumtree aren’t normally licensed builders. Whilst this is a small job, it requires a licensed builder to oversee it.

Maya123 said :

You have the chance to make sure the windows face north to bring in the sun for free heating; you have the chance to make sure you insulate this section of your house properly. Don’t waste this chance.

Understand what you’re saying but I’m not renovating the entire house, I’m just adding a room. I can’t change the position of the house. What you’re suggesting may mean knocking down several walls, reconfiguring rooms and relocating bathrooms. Sorry, but there’s no way I am doing that sort of renovation.

There’s no reason why an addon room can’t be done properly. I’m very cautious about architects or builders upselling a renovation. I’ve had first hand experience from workmates who were sold into making unnecessary upgrades to renovations. The battle I seem to be facing is architects always want to be award winning and artistic (in place of practicality), and builders just simply want to sell you more services.

DeadlySchnauzer said :

However there are plenty of smaller builders around who would consider your extension a good job, they are the ones you want to talk to.

Another OptimisticPessimist said :

If you engage a builder you’ll be paying the Canberra tax!
Get plans drawn, approved, find a certifier, then Owner Build unless it is a complicated site. A single level 6×5 extension without plumbing isn’t difficult.

Thanks for the advice. After reading all the replies to my question, seems looking into being an owner builder is not too bad, but I’d need to invest time managing the work! I work full time during business hours. Cautious of how much time I need to get off work to oversee this project.

8
Holden Caulfield 10:36 am
19 Jun 17
#

spades said :

Thanks for the advice. After reading all the replies to my question, seems looking into being an owner builder is not too bad, but I’d need to invest time managing the work! I work full time during business hours. Cautious of how much time I need to get off work to oversee this project.

It should be pretty manageable, especially given the relatively small scale of the works you’re looking at. If you go owner builder, as you state, you’re pretty much just dealing with the licensing issues and the ongoing warranty period (if applicable).

Then try and get a lead tradie/carpenter to do the work and manage the other subbies etc. Conscious of not wanting to underplay the owner/builder angle, it’s pretty much a paper pushing exercise.

However, some banks won’t lend money on owner/builder projects, so best investigate that first if you’re not able to fund the improvements with cash.

9
Maya123 1:52 pm
19 Jun 17
#

spades said :

Maya123 said :

You have the chance to make sure the windows face north to bring in the sun for free heating; you have the chance to make sure you insulate this section of your house properly. Don’t waste this chance.

Understand what you’re saying but I’m not renovating the entire house, I’m just adding a room. I can’t change the position of the house. What you’re suggesting may mean knocking down several walls, reconfiguring rooms and relocating bathrooms. Sorry, but there’s no way I am doing that sort of renovation.

And I never suggested you do all that. My suggestion was to make sure it had good insulation, etc and yes, windows to the north. But if you don’t have a northern side to this, then it must be on the southern side of the house – the coldest side – so the insulation will be even more important. Double glazing would be worth considering too (especially being on the southern side of the house, which you didn’t mention), but with thermal breaks in the frames, or better with wooden frames (if you don’t mind that look and the maintenance). As it’s the southern side, windows should not be too large, as even double glazed windows (without sun advantage) are not as good as insulation as a well insulated wall.
Too few people consider these things. Energy prices are not about to go down, or stop rising.

10
K_c24 7:00 pm
21 Jun 17
#

spades said :

K_c24 said :

As far as finding people to do smaller jobs, try Gumtree. There’s often young tradies just starting out, post apprenticeship, who are keen for this kind of work, either as their own boss or on top of their day to day. Lots of ads on there. It sounds simple enough to be done by a single tradesman overseeing the various trades (usually their other mate tradies)

What you’re suggesting is I become an owner builder (which requires me to be licensed) or get someone to oversee it (which requires them being a licensed builder). Apprentices in Gumtree aren’t normally licensed builders. Whilst this is a small job, it requires a licensed builder to oversee it.

That’s not what I said at all…I said POST apprenticeship…as in they are fully qualified and licensed. You seem very keen to rebuff all the suggestions people have given you, while not actually taking the time to properly read or engage with it.

Good luck to you.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Search across the site