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7 things to know before adding a home extension

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
House Hout Bay Modern houses by Babett Frehrking Architect Modern
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Extending one’s house is one of the best ways to gain more space and up that property value. But things can get rather tricky when working with smaller spaces, which is where it becomes much more crucial to consider what you need (and want) before starting the design process. 

So, if moving home is out of the question to you, then stay put – we’re about to share with you 7 tips to factor into your home extension project when working in a limited space. 

1. Work with what you’ve got

Reconfiguring your existing structure (i.e. adding internal walls or removing them for a bigger layout) is a feasible and practical extension option. But always keep access and the relation to your home’s central zones in mind. 

With a smaller room that has supporting walls you can’t knock down, rather consider removing doors and finishing off the door frames to make your space seem bigger. 

2. Move upwards

Don’t want to infringe on your lovely garden / yard space? Then building a second storey might be your best bet. But keep in mind that this could become a costly construction process due to your property’s existing roof needing to be removed and reconfigured into a new floor structure to support the upper extension.

Working with a professional (such as an Architect) and looking into the estimated building costs right at the start can help you determine whether building up is a viable option or not. 

3. Make the most of natural light

5 Fin Whale Way Modern houses by SALT architects Modern
SALT architects

5 Fin Whale Way

SALT architects

Upping a small space’s lighting levels can make it seem much more spacious and welcoming. This should be your starting point when planning an extension’s design: taking advantage of all the different angles to usher in the most sunlight during the day. 

But don’t overlook the importance of investigating how much sunlight will filter into that room, especially during different seasons. You don’t want to end up with a sweltering space in the middle of the South African summer! 

4. Use your ceiling space

Got a vaulted ceiling? Then you can add much more natural light simply by installing glazing all the way to its tip. And if privacy is a concern, consider adding frosted film to the glazing, which will still allow sufficient natural light to shine through. 

5. Maybe extend your kitchen




Even a small kitchen with lots of cabinets can be opened up. And before you ask about kitchen storage, it might be worth it to consider creating a ceiling feature by hanging up some of those pots and pans. 

Or how about knocking down an internal wall to seamlessly connect a kitchen with, say, a dining room or living area? That can help by making the rooms seem bigger and making your kitchen more functional. It is trendy, after all, to have open-plan layouts, especially in modern and contemporary homes. 

6. Check in with your neighbours

Victorian Semi House Extension by Rider Stirland Architects
Rider Stirland Architects

Victorian Semi House Extension

Rider Stirland Architects

Doesn’t matter how straightforward or complex your home extension project is, you need to chat to your neighbours before doing anything. After all, your project might affect their views or privacy, and you don’t want them to complain about you to the local authority half-way through your project, do you? 

While it’s true that you don’t always require neighbours’ consent with a home renovation, it’s still worth keeping them in the loop to avoid any nastiness.

7. Check up on Planning Permission

House Hout Bay - Babett Frehrking Architect Modern houses by Babett Frehrking Architect Modern
Babett Frehrking Architect

House Hout Bay—Babett Frehrking Architect

Babett Frehrking Architect

By South African law, homeowners need to ensure that their building / renovation plans for their property are approved by the relevant local authorities. Always liaise with the planning department of your local municipality before doing anything, as you may require planning permission beforehand. 

A quick and correct way of doing this is to appoint a qualified professional (like an Architect or Draughtsperson) to professionally draw up the plans and then submit them to your local municipal planning department on your behalf. Just keep in mind the fee structure of this process. In the case of smaller homes, a Draughtsperson might be the more cost-effective option. 

When finished with your construction planning, you may start to wonder What role does texture play in Interior Design…  

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