home extension home addition

How to decide between a home extension or addition

Torn between renovating horizontally or vertically?

A home extension and an addition are two of the most common major renovation projects done by families who’ve outgrown their homes. 

These projects allow you to add more livable spaces and maximise your property. With more space for your family, you avoid the expense and hassle of moving out of your home and finding a new residence. These two, when planned, coordinated, and executed right, provide greater value to your existing property in comparison to building a new home.

Here, let’s look into these two renovation projects, their differences, the pros and cons of each one, and how to choose between the two. 

home extension home addition
Image credit: Shaun Lockyer Architects, Scott Burrows Aperture Photography

Home extensions

A home extension is a type of renovation that aims to enlarge the home’s floor size. A home extension stretches your living space and opens it outdoors, giving you and your family extra breathing space. 

Here in Australia, ground floor extensions are extremely popular. Home extensions that give additional space up and down are also realistic for many homeowners. 

When to choose a home extension

Deciding to extend your home is a difficult decision to make for there are many things to consider prior to the planning phase. Here are a few instances when a home extension is the better option: 

  1. When you want a bigger living or entertaining space – A home extension that adds a few more square footage can make a spot for entertaining (e.g. a dining room or living area) more spacious.
  2. When you want to open up the living space to the outdoors – A home extension that involves the construction of a deck or patio entertaining area next to your indoor lounge can provide you with a seamless indoor-outdoor area.
  3. When you want an open plan living space – A home extension, plus a few minor demolitions of internal walls can dramatically change the layout of your home. 
  4. When you want to make your home design more accessible for people with mobility issues – Ground floor extensions mean your home gains additional square footage without building stairs. You have a bedroom, a bathroom, and keep the hallways wide enough for a person using a wheelchair. 
home extension home addition
Image credit: LUSHER architects

Pros and cons of a home extension

Before you green light a project like this, you should know its advantages and disadvantages:


  • Applicable to most houses in Australia, provided that the design meets regulatory requirements
  • Opens up the shared living spaces to the garden
  • The interior rooms extended become larger, better looking, and more spacious
  • Increases the value of your property, in case you want to sell


  • Extending horizontally means sacrificing some of your outdoor space
  • Often requires homeowners to give up an existing garden or a lawn area
  • Can get a tad expensive due to excavation and foundation costs

home extension home addition
Image credit: Sans-Arc Studio, David Sievers Photography

If you have decided an extension is the best option for you, make your dream home renovation a reality with proper planning, coordination with professionals, and execution.

Register to Dreamspace to access the project dashboard with all its project coordination tools and features to assist you. 

When you sign up, you can: 

  • Get a free no obligation quotation
  • Work with a dedicated project manager who will assist you in every step of the way
  • Find or get matched with designers suitable for your project
  • Coordinate your project with all the design and construction professionals you need 
  • Find skilled builders and get quotes faster than ever
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Image credit: ArchiBlox

Home addition

A home addition, on the other hand, aims to add more liveable square footage to your existing house. Typically, an addition offers a different room that’s supplemental to the space next to it. 

Here in Australia, many homeowners add another floor level to their existing homes to create more livable spaces. They add onto their house and then renovate the ground floor to make it better. Projects like these are called first floor or second storey additions. 

When to choose a home addition

When one or more than these instances apply, a home addition might be the best option to do on your property. 

  1. When you have no room to extend at ground level – Renovating a home on a narrow lot? Build vertically! With a first floor extension, you can essentially double the space in your home and only lose a small amount of ground floor space for the stairs.
  2. When you want to capitalise on potential views – First floor additions are ideal when your property has a stunning view of nature or the city’s skyline. 
  3. When you need extra bedrooms – Whether your children started needing rooms of their own or you just want a place to entertain extended family members who come over, a home addition can give you the extra bedrooms you need. 
  4. When you want spaces at home for work and leisure – Extra square footage means you finally have the space for the home theatre, home office, or that informal living room that you’ve wanted. 
  5. When you want a garage or to build a home gym – Many homeowners across the country opt for a home addition when they want to have utility rooms such as a laundry, garage, or a home gym in the ground floor of their homes.
home extension home addition
Image credit: Day Bukh Architects

Pros and cons of a home addition

Before you embark on a home addition project, you should know its advantages and disadvantages:


  • There is no need to give up any of your outdoor space because you are adding height rather than length
  • The final home design can give you stunning views of your surroundings
  • When planned and designed carefully, a home addition can be more cost effective than a ground floor extension
  • When planned and executed beautifully, the house can have a higher resale value than the original structure


  • Not suitable for all houses
  • Often requires a major renovation to ensure the structural integrity of the new house, which can disrupt a family’s daily activities
  • Often requires the family to move out until the builders complete the construction of the project
  • Requires the construction of stairs, which can be a  concern especially when you are living with family members with mobility issues

home extension home addition
Image credit: Weathertex

Difference between a home addition and home extension

A home extension builds outward whilst a home addition builds upward. These are two very different approaches to solve your home’s space issues. 

Both allow you to greatly expand the amount of space in your home and each solution has its pros and cons. The right choice for you depends on your unique requirements, what kind of space you are working with and what you want to get out of your home expansion.

One thing is for sure: both home extensions and additions require demolition as an integral part of the home renovation process.

home extension home addition
Image credit: Jonathan Lake Architects

Types of home extensions and additions that add value to your home

Both a home extension and a home addition can boost the value of your property. If you have plans of selling the house in the future, taking on either one of these projects would benefit you a lot. 

Here are a few home extension and addition ideas that give the biggest return on your investment: 

  • An indoor-outdoor living area with alfresco dining 
  • Open-plan living areas
  • A functional rooftop terrace
  • An all-weather deck for dining, entertaining, relaxing, and bonding with family and friends
  • Extra bedrooms
  • En suite master bedroom
  • Additional bathrooms
  • Bigger and more spacious kitchens and dining area
  • A private lounge room or a second living area ideally located on another level
  • A wrap-around extension, often renovating the rear and sides of the house to gain extra floor space surrounding original structure

Research on the hottest home design features of the properties located in your area. In many cases, it’s not luxury home design features that will impress buyers and get you the biggest return on investment. It’s often the simple yet practical upgrades that will give you the most bang for your buck.

home extension home addition
Image credit: + MO-DO

Hot tips for homeowners embarking on a home renovation or addition project

Now that you’ve set your heart on a home extension or addition project, here are a few useful tips to help you get started plus a few relevant things that you need to know:

Be intentional about your new home design

Determine the pain points of your current household and then think about possible design solutions. How do you want these problems to be solved? What are the spaces you need? Overall, how do you want your home extension or home addition project to improve your home?

Check in with your local council before planning

Conduct a quick council check to know the exact things that you can do on your property. Even small extensions and additions require development applications. Also, renovations are harder especially when there are overlays involved. Check in with your local council to find more about the stipulations of the limits of the design, layout, materials and colour palette.

home extension home addition
Image credit: Austin Maynard Architects

Save the charming design elements of the original structure

Preserving the unique design elements of a specific architectural style is hard especially when you are renovating a traditional home. Oftentimes, homeowners realise how expensive it is to source or replicate these architectural elements. 

Be on the lookout for new advances in building and design that make period or heritage home aesthetics cheaper and easier to purchase or engage a building designer who specialises in this. 

Match the extension or addition with the architectural character of your home and street

Your personal taste is important, but visual continuity is key to a successful home extension or home addition project. The new parts of your home must work seamlessly with the original structure. Extract design elements from the original structure and feature them on the new part of the house. Use a cohesive colour and material palette as well.

home extension home addition
Image credit: Ben Anders Photography

Build your dream renovation team

Here at Dreamspace, we are committed to help you plan your project properly and coordinate with the design and construction professionals you need. Use our project dashboard to find and build your dream home renovation team! You’ll find designers who are experts in home extension and home addition projects here, and they can give your new home a real wow factor!

Sign up here.

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Use tool for project management

Regardless of the size, you need to manage your home extension and addition project properly to avoid delays and going over budget. 

The Dreamspace project dashboard makes it easy for you to manage your project and coordinate with the professionals yourself. You can also use the dashboard to track the progress of your project and tick one milestone after another!

Sign up here.

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Moving out or staying in during the renovation?

It is common for many Australian families to stay put during the build (to save cash), but when living through the renovation becomes impossible, consider moving out until the builders finish their work.

Be mindful when building before and during summer season

A summer build is the easiest project to do because of the weather, which makes the period of December to February the busiest time for many builders.

Start planning your renovation during spring to give your designer enough time to work on the planning documents and for you to get all permits and approvals. 

If you have decided to build early to avoid the Christmas rush, make sure that your project gets done before the start of the Christmas break. Many builders close down in the last two weeks of December until the first week of January (annual holiday break). Not to mention, the supplies of building materials often goes out of stock in December. Many renovators had to wait until mid-January for their orders. These situations are out of your control and work around these to avoid delays.

home extension home addition
Image credit: Architect Michael Ong, Peter Bennetts Photography

Plan your home extension and home addition project with Dreamspace

Use Dreamspace’s  project dashboard for your upcoming home addition or extension project. From one simple dashboard we make it super easy to:  

  • Plan a successful home extension or addition
  • Find inspiration and ideas
  • Monitor the progress of your project
  • Coordinate with the professionals who specialise in home extensions and additions onboard
  • Get quotes for your project
  • Manage your project from design through to build.

Sign up here.

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