Additions Pty Ltd

Second-storey solutions

Brisbane-based business Additions makes the process of adding a second storey to the family home a smooth and swift one.

Photo courtesy Additions Pty Ltd

Author

Philip O’Brien

After choosing to remain in their existing house rather than rebuild, homeowners still face the decision of whether to extend at ground level or to add an additional storey. But that second storey can seem a daunting prospect with concerns about cost, inconvenience and matching the old with the new.

All of these considerations are handled with ease by Cameron Miller of Additions Pty Ltd, in the Brisbane suburb of Loganholme. Additions, a family-owned and operated business, specialises in renovations and extensions, especially second-storey additions. And, as shown in a recent job completed in suburban Brisbane, Cameron makes the process of adding a second storey a swift and smooth one for his many happy clients.

The property concerned is located in Wynnum West, 18 kilometres east of the Brisbane CBD. The original home was built in 1995 and, although in good condition, was too small for a growing family.

The first consideration in making the choice between extensions or second-storey additions is the size of the property, Cameron says. For the owners in Wynnum West, with a pool in their backyard, there was limited space at ground level for additional bedrooms and living space. Going up was the logical decision.

Additions Pty Ltd
‘I prefer renovations simply because they are more challenging. It’s what I know and, as a firm, we do it well’
Photo courtesy Additions Pty Ltd
Additions Pty Ltd
Some clients have a firm idea of what they want; others have only a vague idea
Photo courtesy Additions Pty Ltd

‘However location of the stairs needs to be taken into account,’ he says.

‘Building a second storey means that you lose space – on both levels – with the installation of a staircase. That might mean the loss of a bedroom or study; they do take up a fair bit of space.’

So, are spiral staircases the solution?

‘I try to talk my clients out of them,’ he says. ‘It’s much more difficult to get furniture upstairs with a spiral staircase. I also think that walking down a spiral staircase is potentially dangerous unless the steps are really wide.’

A second consideration is cost.

‘While there’s not the need to put down a slab you still have to put a second floor up there,’ Cameron says. ‘Those costs tend to cancel each other out. In the end, what matters is the number of rooms. If you’re looking at something small – like putting on one bedroom with a bathroom – then I’d recommend an extension. But once you get beyond 70 square metres on the second level, you start getting better value for money than a ground floor extension.

This option suited the clients in Wynnum West who required a master bedroom with ensuite, walk-in robe, balcony, sitting room and linen closet as well as some lower floor renovations.

Another consideration is determining which option will involve the least mess and dislocation to the homeowner’s lives. ‘Ninety-five per cent of clients for whom we do a second storey stay in the house,’ Cameron says. ‘We do have to get into a few rooms and put in extra braces and posts. While it’s a building site, our concern is always to cause the least inconvenience as possible to our clients.’

One consideration is matching the second storey with the original house

He says that the work proceeds irrespective of the weather.

‘We have done quite a few jobs through heavy storms. It’s harder because we need to use much more tarpaulin. On those jobs, generally the first two or three weeks are the most crucial. By the third week we’ve generally got the old roof off and the new one on. It’s a very quick transition. And during that process – whether wet or dry – it’s all covered up.’

A final consideration is matching the second storey with the original house.

‘That’s generally straightforward,’ Cameron says. ‘For example, if the existing roof is Colorbond then we use that for the new roof. The greatest challenge is matching roof tiles but, if these are no longer available new, then we source second-hand tiles in the same style.

The second-storey addition in Wynnum West presented no difficulties, he says. The house was originally built of brick with a timber frame. For the external extension the clients chose weatherboard – Selflok Millwood Ruff-Sawn – with Monier Centurion roof tiles.

Cameron says that clients range across all age groups. ‘They could be younger parents who need more space for children or teenagers. Or they could be older couples who need space for aged parents. Some clients have a firm idea of what they want; others have only a vague idea and a limited budget so we make that work for them.’

Additions Pty Ltd Photo courtesy Additions Pty Ltd
Additions Pty Ltd Photo courtesy Additions Pty Ltd

A builder for 24 years, Cameron first joined his father and a business partner at Additions in the mid-1990s. He and his wife Nicole then took over the business in 2004.

‘While I did a number of new houses when I began as a builder, I prefer renovations simply because they are more challenging. It’s what I know and, as a firm, we do it well.’

He has been a HIA member for more than ten years and uses many of the services available, from legal and staffing advice to training courses.

‘It’s great value for money,’ he says. ‘If you take advantage of all that there is available, you can’t beat the benefits of being a member.’

Not surprisingly, the clients at Wynnum West were thrilled with their second-storey addition, especially that it was completed within three months.

‘That’s our standard time,’ Cameron says.

‘Our process is smooth and well-organised. And we get a lot of customer enquiries from the sign out the front of a job. A lot people don’t think of it as an option but when they see it happening, across the street or down the road, they think: “We can do this”. And we can make their dream home a reality.’

At a glance

Construction time: 12 weeks
Project size (addition): 85 square metres
Project cost: $217,000
Materials:
• Framework: timber
• Stairs: Kwila hardwood
• Roof tiles: Monier ‘Centurion’ - chocolate
• External board: Weathertex ‘Selflok Millwood Ruff Sawn’ – Colorbond ‘Surf Mist’
• Internal walls: CSR plasterboard

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