Choosing the floor plan is one of the most impactful decisions ahead of you when you’re building a home or adding a home extension [Extension Guide]. Your building plan affects everything from the budget you’re going to need to the overall feel of your future home. So, how do you choose the right house extension plans?
First of all, look out for any restrictions that may apply to your block. Environmental concerns, historical value of certain areas, landscape preservation etc. can all complicate obtaining a planning permit and starting a big construction project. Additionally, the residential development code requires that your property “respects neighbourhood character”, which can also shut down some house extension plans from the get go.
The site itself can also throw you some curveballs. For example, if you intend to build a single-storey extension by cutting into the garden, removing tree roots and other obstacles can be quite costly and time-consuming. Also, soil surveys are necessary to determine what kind of structure your block can support, among other things.
Making the Most of It
Avoiding unnecessary complications is only part of the initial planning, though. Maximising the advantages of your location is, arguably, even more important. What kind of view can you get? Which side of the house gets the most sun? Finding the best places for windows can get a bit tricky, especially if you’re building from scratch, so it is recommended to discuss it with your builder in detail.
Energy efficiency is also an increasing priority in modern building design and it too starts with your house extension plans. Passive design is a term that encompasses a range of techniques that allow you to maximise the use of natural light and reduce energy consumption for climate control. At the planning stage it revolves primarily around orientation of your building plan, location of windows as well as taking into account any additional shading that you may need to keep some parts of your home cooler, especially during hot summer months.
Of course, the main goal of your construction project, be it a new home or a home extension, is creating a perfect space for you and your family. How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms? What other rooms and areas would you and your family members want in your ideal home? Perhaps, you should include a study nook to work at home or an extra large garage if you have multiple cars. If you have younger children, they would likely need their own play area both inside and outside the house. And if you entertain guests often, a bigger space for parties might be in order.
Of course, the trick here is to not only find an optimal solution for your family’s current needs, but to future-proof your home as well. As your family grows or shrinks with your children growing up and moving out, your home would have to adapt as well. Planning for many years ahead will save you a lot of trouble with maintenance or big renovations down the line.
The Flow of Things
There are many different aspects of building a home for a comfortable living, including the materials you use, the appliances you have and the provisions you make for the future. However, one of the most essential ingredients of a perfect home [Step By Step Building Guide] is a floorplan that follows your daily routines and allows them to flow naturally. The general idea here is very straightforward – set up the dining area close to the kitchen to avoid carrying stacks of plates back and forth each time you have a meal, don’t place your stay anywhere near the entertainment area and so on. But beyond simple common sense ideas we all have our own ticks and idiosyncrasies and fine-tuning your home to follow your own lifestyle is a good way to improve your day-to-day life.
The easiest example here is the kitchen. Setting up your kitchen to follow your workflow not only makes it easier to cook all your favourite meals but also lets you use space much more efficiently. There are, of course, many different layouts you can use, but as a general rule of thumb your design should be based around the most commonly used parts of any kitchen – the fridge, the sink and the oven. Position them as a triangle for maximum accessibility with spaces between occupied by cabinets and work surfaces that you need. Include ample space for the pantry and your kitchen is ready to go!
The convergence of creativity and technology bring many exciting trends to home building. Here are 5 trends you may want to consider incorporating into your new house extension design…
1. Natural Light and Ventilation.
Good use of natural light and ventilation not only saves electricity, it can make your home feel more spacious. Rooms look bigger. Ceilings look higher. And more generally, things just look less cluttered.
This can easily be achieved through the placement of windows, the design of external doors, and the addition of natural lighting and ventilation features. See some examples on our services pages.
2. Blurring Inside With Outside.
Many people are taking natural light to the next level by blurring the line between inside and outside. This can be done by opening up a wall with large folding doors. Or it can be achieved by weather proofing a deck or courtyard. Ask your extension builder how you may be able to extend your living area by blurring inside with outside… and make the most of our magnificent Melbourne climate.
3. LED Lighting.
The most exciting technological breakthrough in lighting recently is definitely LED lights. They are bright, energy-efficient and compact. This gives you almost unlimited flexibility when it comes to designing lighting for any home.
Some people opt for the minimalistic appeal by hanging tiny lights from the ceiling. Others add drama by incorporating bold colours and unusual materials. Modern LED lights work well with both design styles.
Although your choice of colours is almost limitless, there seems to be 2 main house extension design trends this year. One is bold and bright with a mix of tribal and retro colours. The other is subdued and peaceful with a mix of earthy and romantic shades. You’ll find examples on our facebook page.
5. Flexible Designs.
Gone are the days when every room was built for a purpose. The best designs today allow the owner to adjust the room for different purposes. This not only gives you better use of each space, it generally gives your home a more open and natural feel.
6. Bonus House Extension Design Trends Tip.
Knowing about design trends is important. But following them blindly can cost you a lot of money and leave you disappointed. Be sure to talk with your extension builder Melbourne before making up your mind about any particular trend. There is always more than one way of achieving the result you want.
Popular house extension plans ideas
Popular house extension plans have changed dramatically over the years as have the houses that we live in. We’ve moved from tiny post-war cottages… to fibro and brick combinations… to modern custom homes complete with media room and large outdoor entertaining area.
It’s great to gather home extension ideas by looking at lots of popular house extension plans – there are plenty of home extension ideas examples in this article.
But it’s best to start with a solid ‘base’ design. Head over to our services pages to have a flick through some popular house extension plans to gather some ideas. We have free house extension ideas Australia for ground floor extensions and two storey extensions.
Before you rule a design in or out, sit down and talk with your extension builder. He’ll be able to show you what modifications are affordable. And when you’re better off starting with a totally different ‘base’ design.
The advice of a builder during the design stage is invaluable. And it will save you money and time.
Saving money with your design
While house extension design inclusions like premium floor coverings, bench-tops, tap-ware and lighting can add thousands to the price of your new home extension, there is something more fundamental that may affect the price.
In fact, just being aware of this little-known house extension design feature could save you tens of thousands of dollars without compromising the style and sophistication of your home. And it simply has to do with…
The shape of your house
Think of it this way: whether its a single storey extension, two storey extension or a complete knock down re-build, the simpler the external shape, the lower the cost to build.
But please don’t misunderstand. A more complicated shape is not more expensive because of added difficulty to build. It just requires more building material.
A house extension design with more angles will likely have a greater wall surface area. This will increase the number bricks needed to build the walls. It will increase the length of gutting and eaves. And it will usually also increase the framework, gyprock, cornices and other building materials.
A house extension design with a simple shape (e.g. rectangle) can retain the same floor area with a greatly decreased wall surface area. The savings can run into the tens of thousands.
This extra saving can often times be the difference between being able to afford a house extension or blowing the budget. Alternatively, this money can be re-budgeted to upgrade bathrooms or your kitchen.
So before you fall in love with a complicated architectural house extension design, check with your builder how you may achieve the same result with a slightly modified external shape. This little design secret together with some friendly professional know how could save you thousands on your next home extension design plans.
Should you use an architect or builder for my house extension plans?
Would you like to save thousands on your home extension? Here’s a valuable design tip…
I know it sounds counter-intuitive. But before you look for an architect to design your home, choose your builder.
Well, did you know 80% of architectural plans never come to fruition?
You see, an architect focuses on what a home will look like. The design. The problem is, they rarely factor in the house extension costs. So what you end up with is a design that can quickly become…
Very Expensive to Build
Think about it: architects are trained to be visionaries. They ‘live’ to create the ‘perfect custom home’. That’s what you pay them for. But, they are not always focused on the practicalities of building — how much extra time and money certain design elements may take.
And the reality is,
They get paid for the design they create whether you end up using it or not.
There is a way to fuse vision with the practicalities of building. With a few small modifications, you can often achieve the same ‘design result’ for a lot less money.
When you choose a design and build builder, you get the best of both worlds…
- A design that is beautiful and functional
- And a design that is affordable to build
Avoid getting sued
There is a little-known problem an increasing number of people are facing. And it has to do with one of the most exciting aspects of extending your home design.
When shopping around for a builder, it’s tempting to compare house extension plans and ask for quotes from different builders for the same plan. If your house extension plans was prepared by your architect, that’s usually fine. Although your architect owns the copyright, he will usually give you access to the plan through a ‘licence’. But more often than not, people take house extension plans from one builder and ask a different builder to quote on that plan.
In their Information Sheet G017v09 January 2012, the Australia Copyright Council goes as far as to say this:
“If you decide not to build from that plan, it is advisable not to show that plan to anyone you subsequently ask to draw a new plan for you. If the second person does see the earlier plan there may be an inference that that person has consciously or subconsciously copied original elements of the earlier plan.”
With architects and builders eager to protect their intellectual property, this can quickly escalate into a legal battle.
This is a tricky area that can cause you a lot of grief and wasted time and money.