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Do I Need an Extension, Addition or Renovation? 5 Things to Consider

Updated: Sep 6, 2023


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Does your home no longer fit the requirements of your household? Perhaps the kids have grown, but due to the current market rental prices, they haven’t yet 'flown the coop'. Do you need to make room in your home to take care of a family member? Or are you looking to create a dedicated office space now that you're working from home more regularly?

Whatever the reason, if your current space no longer suits its original purpose, do you undergo an extension, addition or renovation? First, let’s clarify the difference.

Alterations and Renovations

Alterations and renovations mean updating a space; repairing, or returning it to its original condition. For example, if you live in a 1930’s house, you could renovate the home back to how it would have looked in its day by removing the modern bathtub and replacing it with a claw foot tub. You could also remove the plain architraves and cornices, and replace them with the patterned ones that were popular back then.


An extension increases the floor area of your home. This would mean adding on another room or making one larger while remaining at ground level. You would be sacrificing some of your property space to do this.


An addition is similar to an extension in that it increases your livable space; however, you would be adding height to the house (building upwards with another level), not extending into your property space.

Which option will best suit your needs? Here are FIVE things to consider:

  • ONE - How will the addition, extension or renovation affect the flow of your home? From a practical sense, which would work best for the members of your household? For example, if you have very young children or elderly family members, stairs may be a hazard, which would cross out an addition. An extension may also be crossed out if you have children at home who need the yard space to play in.

  • TWO - Are there any restrictions? I.e., council or neighbourhood covenants that may stop you from being able to build an addition or extension? A renovation may be more doable in this instance.

  • THREE - Is the interior of your home up-to-date? If not, would building an extension or addition really date the rest of the house?

  • FOUR - If you are looking to increase the value of your property, which option would add the most value? Kitchens and bathrooms are usually the most expensive rooms to remodel, but they do add the most value. Adding on another bedroom or living space may cost less than adding an en-suite in an extension, but which option will most increase the value?

  • FIVE - Does your budget allow for an addition or renovation? Remember that an addition or extension may cost more than a renovation. Usually, adding additional square floor metres will cost more than renovating a space that already exists. A new space also requires services that a renovated area may already have or at least may have easier access to (unless of course, the renovated space needs plumbing installed which wasn’t there previously). Generally speaking, building upwards will cost more than expanding outwards. The structural work required for building an addition is expensive. Renovations can also be costly if you need to seek council consent, architectural drawings, and so on.

We suggest talking with a licensed builder when weighing up all the pros and cons. Their expertise can help you make the best decision for your needs. If you are considering selling your property in the not-too-distant future, you might also want to consider seeking the advice of a local realtor. They will be able to offer some insight as to what renovations or additions may be most valuable in your area.

Wellington builders Orkney Group Limited also offers design and architectural services and would be happy to speak to you about your project. Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like some expert advice about the best way forward for your next construction project.

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