Property Advice

Make room for more family members

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer |
Make room for more family members

Extending your home rather than moving can make a lot of sense. You get to improve your existing home to meet your current needs while adding value for when you eventually choose to move on.

While you are extending your home, it’s often a good idea to reconfigure the existing space to make the most of the new space. This will allow you to establish the optimum layout to make the most of access, views, natural light and privacy.

WATCH : Tips on making your space work for you

To effectively integrate any new extension and ensure you get real value and use from it, you may need to knock down some existing internal walls and move doorways to achieve the space you want. Consider the position of the entrance and the central hallway design – which should lead efficiently to all main rooms and the relationship between key spaces, such as the proximity of bedrooms to the bathrooms.

Before you start planning your extension, talk to a local estate agent and find out what types of improvements help homes to sell well in your area. It’s pointless spending a fortune on a costly extension that will put your property far above the ceiling price for your area. If you know someone who’s had an extension done recently, ask for their advice and any recommendations.


First, you need to decide whether the new section should be in a contrasting but complementary style or if you want it to look like it was part of the original structure.

  • Contrast is much easier to accomplish. However, if you decide you want the extension to be seamless, ensure you carefully match materials and copy the key design elements - or your new addition will look like an afterthought. This includes roof pitch and details like the brick bond and even the plaster colour.
  • Keep in mind that an extension may take away some of the light sources to your original rooms, so you need to make sure you include plenty of glazing to bring in natural light.
  • Consider adding a feature, such as a striking staircase design, a trendy fireplace or a preparation island in the kitchen.

Moving up

Adding a second storey rather than extending at ground level can work well, provided the existing foundations and structure are adequate. Your decision will also be influenced by who will be occupying the new extension. Elderly family members may not be able to negotiate the stairs, whereas teenagers would enjoy having their own space a little apart from the rest of the home.

If your garden is large enough, a separate building might well prove a more sensible and manageable solution than extending the existing house. A garden building can provide additional games or home office space and would be ideal as self-sufficient accommodation with kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living spaces.


If you're planning on building any kind of extension or separate outbuilding, you will need to apply for planning permission from your local authority. Therefore, before you submit an application, it's wise to engage with your local authority early on and research local planning policies to know what's likely to be approved.

You also need to comply with building regulations that cover issues like insulation, drainage and fire safety. This is why it is usually best to appoint a professional like an architect, an architectural designer or a draughtsperson to draw up the plans and submit all the necessary documentation on your behalf.

Whoever you appoint, always check that they have the relevant qualifications and professional accreditations.

Project management

You could manage the building project yourself to help reduce costs. However, project management can be challenging to juggle, especially with a full-time job, especially as you’ll have to manage each individual contractor. One option is to find a good builder who can deliver the work on time and within budget. Personal recommendations are a good starting point, as you can check the workmanship before appointing someone. Even so, you should always get several fixed-price quotations to compare different builders.

Check that your prospective builder has the relevant insurance and professional certification and is happy for you to check their past work.

Move out

Even if you expect the building to be very low impact, it is always best to move out during the worst of the disruption. If you don’t have accommodating friends and family in the neighbourhood, book accommodation nearby.

Be sure to visit the site at least once daily to check on progress and deal with all the problems that invariably crop up. And never, ever go on holiday leaving the builder in charge.

Writer : Sarah-Jane Meyer

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