Renovations, Additions and Alterations

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A renovation is an update to an existing building or a return to a new condition. An alteration is a change to an existing building. An addition is adding to an existing building.

Most people consider any combination of the three to be a renovation, however.

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The design of whatever addition you do can be a difficult process. Because there is already an existing building, whatever you do must complement what is there. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to imitate the design of the existing building, but any new addition needs to be sympathetic – and this is where a design professional can help you considerably.
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Things to Consider include:

  • Matching the style and materials already used in the house or adding something that is different (but still, ideally, complementary)
  • Is it time to change elements in the old house, for instance wooden to aluminium joinery; updating bathroom fittings, new tiles
  • Adding new technologies, such as computer cabling or underfloor heating if replacing tiles (highly recommended)
  • Moving walls
  • Retro-fit insulation (highly recommended)
  • Adding storage (highly recommended)
  • Do you really want to match light fittings and bathroomware to the old style prevalent in the house or should you use modern items?

Hidden problems of Renovations

Bathrooms are particularly susceptible to issues around water leaks, but the Leaky Homes issue in recent years has shown that leaks are not restricted to this area. Poor workmanship in previous renovations or even the original build may have serious implications for the work you’re planning.

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These are items you may be mentally and emotionally prepared for, but when the reality hits and your budgets are blown out, things may be quite different. Be aware that there may well be nasty surprises so make sure you have contingency in your budget.

Keeping that warning in mind, renovating or adding to your house can be an exciting and very rewarding exercise. You already know the good and bad points to your home. If you like where you live, then improving the house you already know so well can dramatically improve your quality of life and improve its capital value.


Asbestos Warning:

Many NZ houses built between 1940 and 1990 have asbestos in the building products used – lino being one example, fibrolite and textured ceilings. Generally there is limited danger if the material is not touched but if you’re wanting to remove materials and your house is of this vintage, make sure you test for asbestos before doing any demolition works.

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