6 Things you need to do when you want to add an additional story to your home

You’ve moved into your new home and now you are keen on adding more floor space to make it the perfect home for you and your family. If you don’t have ground space to build on, you can always build up. It seems easy enough, but there are various steps to follow that ensure that the job is done properly and according to code.

Here are six things to do when you want to add an additional story to your home. 

Choose a good architect

Getting the new design for what you want your home to look like is the first step. This requires an architect - and a good one. 

“There are many people out there claiming to be able to draw up plans for your house,” says Brenda Lange, Franchisee, Leapfrog Benoni. “But you need an experienced architect and draughtsman who is registered and belongs to a reputable organsation. In South Africa , two primary building bodies exist: the Master Builders Association South Africa (MBSA) and National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).”

A good way to go about choosing these services is to ask for recommendations from family and friends. Also, be sure to ask for examples of previous work and a portfolio of work. 

Decide on where you want your additional story

Lange notes that there are a few ways in which to add vertical space to a home. 

“You can build on top of another structure such as a garage, create a loft space in your roof or remove the roof entirely and build a new level onto your existing house. Once you decide on which ones are actually possible and structurally sound based on the advice from your architect and a structural engineer, you can choose which one you would like to go with. Then it’s onto drawing up the plans.” 

Get the plans approved 

Before you get started on any building, you need to get permission to do so from local authorities and even your neighbours. 

“There are a number of permissions that you need to get when you make changes to your home,” says Lange. “Failure to do so could result in a hefty fine or, perhaps even worse, an instruction to remove the addition.” 

Chat to your architect about what they can assist with. In many cases, they are able to get the plans signed off by the local authority on your behalf. Also, there are some permissions you need from your neighbours. Check on what you will need to do and also use this as an opportunity to give them a heads up about the construction, the noise, and possible disruptions that will occur during the building process. 

Have a budget for unexpected costs

“Ask anyone who has built on to their house and they will tell you that there are many unexpected costs that come up during the building process,” warns Lange. “Ensure that you have some money to cover these”. 

This could include re-wiring, moving pipes to accommodate the new addition, roof repairs if you are reusing your existing roof and so much more. 

Take out extra insurance if needed

There are many things that could potentially go wrong during the building process. Be sure to chat to your insurance company and get your home covered. 

Lange says that most home and contents policies do not include damage to existing property when it is under construction. 

“Ask your insurer about extra insurance while you are building and enquire about any accidental damage done to your neighbour’s property.” 

Keep your eye on the end goal

Building onto your home can be a very frustrating process, especially if you are still living in the house while changes are being made. It can feel as though you are living in a construction zone with dust and debris everywhere. And things often get delayed for various reasons. 

“It’s good to remind yourself of what the end goal is and why you are doing this project. There are times when you are going to wish you had never started it, but thinking about what you get once it’s all done will help you through these periods of frustration,”  Lange concludes. 

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