Many renovators are uncertain about whether to add a first floor to their home or to add rooms at ground level.

A first floor addition is the best way of saving precious back yard space (great for a young family) and perhaps capturing some views. It can also be a great way of creating a ‘parents retreat’ away from the hustle and bustle of ground floor family living spaces.

There is usually a marginal cost premium attached to renovating ‘up’ – allow around 20% if there is no design on which to base specific costings. This is to cover the cost of structural upgrades, a staircase, roof alterations, high level trade work and so on.

Adding space at ground floor level will usually be more cost-effective, so if you have a large block of land and a smaller budget, a ground floor addition will probably be your best option. A single level home will also be more accessible for older residents or visiting grandparents.

Try to make the decision which way you want to go before you start commissioning plans or talking to builders. If you want to see some sketches and preliminary costings for either or both alternatives Archicentre Australia architects can help.


Sustainable Design Saves Money

Environmentally sustainable design is not a fad, nor is it just about ‘saving the planet’.   Sustainably designed, built and maintained homes can benefit their owners in two important   ways:

  • By reducing household running costs
  • By adding value to the property

A well-oriented home with separate living and sleeping zones requires less energy to heat and cool, enabling year-round energy cost savings. With energy costs expected to rise in the future, the owners of well-designed homes will be winners whilst the owners of poorly designed homes will be hit hard by ever increasing energy bills.

As the high running cost of poorly designed homes becomes clearer, it’s not hard to imagine home-buyers expressing a preference for energy-efficient houses. An increased demand for sustainable homes might well be reflected in higher property values, making the owners winners again.

New homes must be sustainably designed and built these days, with a 6-star energy efficiency standard set as the minimum requirement in most states of Australia. Older homes built before these standards were introduced can be improved in sustainability terms.

Much can be done to improve the performance of an older building. Ceiling insulation, door/window seals, window shading and double glazing can all be introduced to a home to reduce heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Timber and brick veneer houses and those with timber floors also are good candidates for thermal improvement – by adding bulk insulation to external walls and subfloors.

Similarly, energy efficient appliances, low energy LED light fittings and solar panels can all be retro-fitted to an existing building to reduce its energy consumption or to boost its capacity to generate power but again, it’s more cost effective to incorporate these into the construction of a new home or a major renovation than to install them afterwards.

If you want a sustainable home that will keep your power bills down and be attractive to buyers when it comes time to sell, get some early advice. Archicentre Australia’s Design Architects can design sustainable homes or renovations and they can also provide advice about making your current home more sustainable.