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Adding a second storey is a fantastic way to reveal newfound space, repurpose existing rooms, and boost the value of your home. Yet, despite the many benefits, there is no guarantee the journey ahead will be smooth sailing.
To help your renovating project get off on the right foot, here are useful answers to the 10 most frequently asked questions about second storey additions.
1. How Much Does the Average Second Storey Addition Cost?
There are many factors that determine the cost of a second storey addition. This includes the size of the property, quality of materials, cost of labour, location of stairs, and whether the ground floor needs reinforcing to carry the load of the new level. Any one of these factors can bump up the price tag.
That being said, based on our 30+ years of professional experience, you can expect to pay approximately $2,500 to $3,300 per square meter.
2. Is a Second Storey More Expensive Than Extending the Ground Level?
Contrary to popular belief, a second storey addition is not always more expensive than a ground floor extension. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true. How? Because when you extend out from the ground level, the height of the slab, the space or access to the addition may be difficult for builders to either lay down new foundation or concrete slabs – and this can add to the expense.
Which type of new rooms you require will also influence the cost of your new storey. For instance, ground floor extensions typically favour open plan living areas (e.g. dining, kitchen or lounge room), while second storey additions are better suited for new bedrooms (e.g. kids bedroom, master bedroom and ensuites).
3. Can My House Handle a Second Storey?
That depends on the property itself. Only a certified engineer can inspect your home and determine its current load bearing capacity. Fortunately, even if your home falls below engineering standards, there are ways to reinforce the property.
4. What is the Optimal Spot for a New Staircase?
A new staircase is much more than just a way to travel up and down. When placed in the correct spot, it should provide an abundance of natural light and be easy to access, while taking as little space away from the ground floor as possible. If desired, you can also ask the staircase to be wider, so that it’s easier to transport furniture and other belongings up and down the stairs.
When you approach a builder, be sure they have experience in creating well-designed staircases, the kind which complements the property and enables for a smooth flow of traffic.
5. Lower Ceilings: A Good Cost-Saving Strategy?
Absolutely! Quite often, as a way to slash the cost of their second storey project, many homeowners are happy to sacrifice some of the ceiling height. This is a particularly good cost-saving benefit if the new floor is to mainly add new rooms – i.e. bedrooms, private office, or storage room.
Fortunately, even if you still want the ‘illusion’ of a tall ceiling at a reduced cost, you can always install coffer or raked ceilings.
6. Are There Special Requirements for Second Storey Windows?
Yes. The Building Code of Australia has strict regulations to prevent the risk of people falling out of windows.
By law, any window with a fall of 2 meters to the ground or higher, must be fitted with a device to restrict the window’s opening, or a suitable barrier. For instance, a fall prevention screen, or window restrictor lock – which restricts the opening distance of the window.
7. Will the Local Council Approve My Second Storey Project?
Each local council has their own unique building requirements. If your local area is considered a fire, flood, or heritage area zone, you may have to satisfy unique guidelines before they can approve your project.
Fortunately, this is where your builder can help. If they’re familiar with the area, they’ll know these guidelines like the back of their hand, and tell you what specific requirements you have to meet – before any work begins.
8. Can I Keep Living in My Home During Construction?
That depends on the property layout and whether your project is a partial or full renovation.
Generally speaking, if the project is a partial upgrade (only a portion of the property gains a new level), then the project can be isolated and you can continue to go about your day in peace. However, if the entire house is to be renovated, the builders may need to access some parts of the property to get the job done.
Rest assured, your builder should be upfront and realistic about your accommodation needs during the construction phase.
9. How Long Will it Take to Build a Second Storey Addition?
Project times can vary greatly depending on the project scope and size of the property. Other forces outside of the builders control may also extend the timeline, including weather and supply delays.
Generally speaking though, the average build time of a second storey addition is between 14-18 weeks.
10. How Do I Choose the Right Builder?
When searching for a builder, take into account these 3 key factors: quality, experience, and satisfaction.
This should go without saying, but, make sure your builder uses only the highest quality materials and components to build your second-storey addition. This will ensure your new level is structurally sound and guaranteed to last.
Secondly, your builder should have relevant experience in building second storey additions. Check out their online portfolio to see photos and read a brief description of each project. These projects should match the style and approach of your project. If you’re unsure about something, don’t be afraid to approach the builder directly and ask specific questions.
Finally, customer satisfaction. Most builders will have glowing testimonials from past customers posted on their website. While this is a helpful guide, it doesn’t tell the whole story. If possible, try to obtain the contact details of a past client and ask them about their experience first-hand.