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A welcome addition to your home

HIA builders can explain exactly what’s involved and help you to develop a design that meets your needs. They often begin by making a sketch of your property including buildings and landscaping. Or you can make a copy of the survey provided when you bought your home. A larger sketch of the proposed addition for more detailed consideration is also useful.

  • Make the most of natural light. Marking the position of the sun throughout the day on the sketch will help to determine the best window and door placements. This in turn will influence the positioning elements such as interior walls, closets, fireplaces and entertainment centres. Your builder can advise you on the best type of windows to avoid overheating in the summer and prevent fading of furniture fabrics and rugs.

  • Connect with the outside. Consider what you want to see from inside. You might want a clear view of the children’s play area from a work area, or be able to smell the flowers right outside your window. Place exterior doors intended for regular use close to an established outside traffic path to minimise maintenance. Also think about incorporating cupboard or storage space close to entranceways.

  • Consider the traffic flow. A well-planned traffic pattern will make the most effective use of your new space. Your builder will offer sound ideas for connecting new and existing areas in your home, or suggest where best to position the door from your new family room to the deck to minimise space lost to traffic flow. As a general rule, corridors and hallways should not account for more than five to seven per cent of the total area.

  • Allow plenty of room for furniture. Before finishing the plans, think about how you will furnish the addition. On your sketch, draw the furniture you intend to use. Will it fit? Add the entertainment centre, shelving, cabinets and anything you plan to have built in. Is there still enough room? It’s much easier to change the addition at the planning stage than later.

  • Build on a solid foundation. The foundation for your addition is important to the overall quality and lasting value of your renovation. An HIA builder will explain the options in detail: e.g. placing the addition on piers sunk into the ground; or excavating a full foundation. A simple soil test can provide the necessary information about the condition of your site, such as solid rock below the surface or unstable soil. The new foundation will also need proper exterior drainage to prevent moisture problems.

  • Determine plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling and ventilation needs. These hidden elements can add up to a sizeable part of the work and budget, particularly when kitchens and bathrooms are involved. Your builder will conduct a thorough inspection to determine what’s required for your addition and what modifications or upgrades may be needed to your existing systems.

  • Know the regulations. Local government codes and policies can affect your design: height restrictions; rear- and side-yard setbacks; percentage of windows to wall area; and even the location of an air-conditioner condensing unit are covered by these rules. Your builder will know what to ask the council and will check to ensure your addition complies with these codes.

  • Tie the ‘look’ together inside and out. A successful addition should look as if it was always there. Inside, your builder may recommend matching or complementary colour, trim and flooring to blend the old and the new. Outside, new wall finishes, repainting, the addition of window shutters or landscaping will all help to create a harmonious look.

  • Ensure access during the work. Your builder will take a close look at your property to determine if there is enough room for heavy equipment such as backhoes if major work is being carried out, and check what needs to be done outside before work can begin, such as moving a fence or protecting your garden.

  • Think about being more efficient. There is plenty of information available on ways to make your renovation more sustainable – think about water efficiency and energy efficiency as the building blocks of a sustainable renovation. HIA GreenSmart professionals can help you with these ideas. HIA GreenSmart professionals go beyond current building regulations for energy and water efficiency, and look at the way the home is built to make sure the impact on the environment is reduced. To find an HIA GreenSmart professional in your area, visit 

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