When people approach us about expanding their home, more often than not, it’s because they are planning or growing their family.
Whether it’s their first born, second or more, they feel their home won’t cope when a new baby comes along.
Usually, their focus is understandably around the needs of the baby. However, babies don’t stay babies for long!
This is definitely an opportunity to think about the short, mid and long-term implications.
So, if you love your home, you are planning a family, and you feel you need more space, what should you be considering?
When is as important as What
Before we answer ‘what to renovate’, it is really important to have a grasp of the likely timelines if you want your renovation to be completed before a birth.
Right now, you realistically need to think about initiating your renovation before you fall pregnant! Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Even in a perfect world, all the steps in the building process will usually take more than nine months:
- First you have to find a builder and designer (or architect);
- Secondly you have to sign contracts with them;
- Thirdly, you have designs drawn up and turned into plans;
- Fourthly, you have to get Council to approve those plans;
- Finally, you get to build!
Council approval alone can now take six months. Whilst ‘concept-to completion’ companies like Addbuild can use their expertise to minimise the time it takes for approval, other factors are beyond anyone’s control.
Needless to say, we don’t live in a perfect world. The impact of COVID still lingers, and then there are one-off events like the Suez Canal blockage that led to a backlog for imported goods and a shortage of containers!
The building stimulus measures introduced by the Government during COVID means that builders are extremely busy, and tradespeople are in short supply.
And with more building happening, there are more approvals going through Council!
As we explained in a recent article, working with an experienced builder like Addbuild can help mitigate some of these issues, but you now understand why we recommend that you plan your renovation ideally when you are planning to become pregnant!
What to renovate
Whilst much of your focus will be on baby, you may have noticed that babies grow pretty quickly!
So, when planning a renovation, you want to both create the perfect environment for your baby and have an eye to the future.
Think about the stages of your children’s life – baby, toddler, pre-teen, teenager, young adult – and what your home needs to provide at each stage. Can the renovations you do now be flexible enough to be reconfigured easily in the future?
Many parents will set up a bassinet in their bedroom for when their new-born arrives home. At some point, they are likely to move baby into a nursery.
In terms of layout, it really goes without saying that if you are renovating to create a nursery, it needs to be close to the parent bedroom.
Whilst technology like baby monitors have been around for some time, this is about peace of mind.
You also want easy access to a bathroom, and if possible, for all three to be on the same level, whether that’s a ground floor or first floor, with no stairs in between.
Babies don’t need much room, and their clothes don’t take up an enormous amount of space, but in planning ahead, the nursery should be looked at as a room with alternative future uses.
Most immediately it could become your toddler or pre-teen’s bedroom, so including wardrobes and a desk first up will save you from having to add these things later on.
Looking longer term, that nursery is unlikely to become the bedroom for your teenager, or even a young adult still living at home.
However, it may be perfect as a home office, spare bedroom, or could (with planning) be converted into a walk-in wardrobe.
If you don’t already have a suitable bathroom, this is the time to invest in one.
First up, you’ll definitely want a bath, and generally that means you’ll need a fair-sized bathroom. Plus, you’ll want plenty of room for rubber ducks and other toys!
As mentioned above, ideally this should be placed close to the nursery and your bedroom for convenience.
Whilst baby clothes and toys don’t necessarily take up a huge amount of room – unless the family really enjoy giving you huge plush toys as presents – but that changes quickly as soon as babies become toddlers.
Then tricycles become bikes, wood blocks become train sets, and an assortment of sporting gear soon follows.
Anticipating this by investing in plentiful storage is the smart option, rather than retrofitting your house at a later date.
Babies and kids inevitably lead to a seemingly endless cycle of clothes washing and drying.
If you don’t want to be surrounded by mountains of clothes, a laundry is another ‘must-have’ if you don’t already have one.
Dealing with the clothes monster as efficiently as possible will mean you can grab back precious time for more meaningful interactions with the family.
Renovating prior to giving birth is a great time to ensure that all the odd jobs that have been put on the back-burner are attended to.
You might only be adding a new nursery, bathroom and laundry, but in the other parts of the house as well as these new rooms, you should be anticipating anything that may create a hazard to a baby or small child.
It’s especially important to consider your home from floor level where your baby will be crawling around.
Power points and cords, low shelves, floorboards and more can all be “baby-proofed”.
And when they become toddlers, you will thank yourself for creating higher shelves where precious objects can be kept away from curious but clumsy hands!
Looking to renovate?
Addbuild specialise in adding space to your home, whether that’s an extension out that back or ‘going up’ with a second storey.
We’ve worked on close to 2,000 projects over our 40-year history of building in Sydney and the majority have been for growing families.
We provide a ‘concept-to-completion‘ service which can include designing, looking after the Development Application approval process and, of course, building your renovation.
So, if you are planning a family and feel you need to expand your home, we’d love to give you the benefit of our experience.
Call our office now on (02) 8765 1555 or send us a message using our contact form if outside of office hours.