According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians spent an estimated $2.2bn on alterations and additions to their homes in the first quarter of 2019.

As families grow and needs change, homeowners often explore the idea of increasing space in their home through alterations and additions, while using the opportunity to also upscale and improve the space.

Homeowners have never had it so good with several strong, durable and lightweight modern materials available in the market to simplify the job and reduce the hassle while carrying out a home extension project. However, beginning a home addition project also presents an opportunity to enhance the quality of your home space in terms of creating a better living experience.

“While increasing square feet is an obvious benefit of any home addition, it should also be an opportunity to consider your block and how you live, to define the new space and redefine the entire home,” says architect and James Hardie Australia ambassador, Joe Snell, who also provides a few useful tips on how to make your new space greater than the sum of its parts.

Know your needs, now and in the future

Your home is your personal space – from waking up in the morning to going to bed at night, you use different areas of your home to carry out various activities. If you are considering the idea of adding more space to your house, you need to know how you will be using the extra space. Focus down on your most important times of day and build back from there. For example, if you’re a great entertainer or enjoy family meals, you could consider an extension to create an alfresco dining space that can be used year-round. If you are looking to create a space for the whole family to enjoy a quiet night in, you could build a well-insulated second floor addition. You can also combine these two goals by creating a cantilevered second floor over a ground floor deck.

Know your home

The basics of home design rely on five key concepts (light, sound, space, view and air). Creating an addition offers the opportunity to harness these concepts to improve the experience of living in the home. You can meet all of these objectives by creating a modern-style addition – one that uses large expanses of glazing to maximise daylight inside the home as well as frame beautiful views. In addition to naturally improving light levels, these windows can be used to encourage cross ventilation, and increase indoor air quality. An extension toward the back of the home will generally create a quieter space away from the street; if placed on the ground floor, it can open up long lines of sight to give a feeling of additional space.

Make more room

When one thinks of home additions, brick is an automatic choice in the materials palette. However, thanks to huge advancements, homeowners have a broad choice of building materials to choose from including James Hardie’s premium fibre cement products, Matrix panels, Axon cladding, Linea weatherboard and Stria cladding, all providing subtle benefits to the floor space.

The use of these products, for instance, can add up to 100-130mm additional depth at each external wall, thanks to their thinner profile, which at approximately 130mm is definitely an important advantage over double brick and brick-veneer walls that are generally 230-270mm thick in comparison.

James Hardie’s premium fibre cement cladding is naturally lighter compared to masonry thanks to its lightweight formulation, which means it is generally less expensive to create cantilevered upper levels. This gives your designs the opportunity to establish more cost-effective floor space upstairs at the same time as creating dynamic and shaded areas downstairs.

Create contrast and continuity

Though many home additions are designed as a natural extension to the house in terms of appearance and materiality, such projects also present an opportunity to use contrast cleverly to create a unique look that stands out without clashing visually with the existing facade. This is trending in home extension projects, the trick being to harmonise the two looks.

While an addition creates an opportunity for a contemporary transformation, it has to work with the existing building by creating common ground. From Mid-Century to Minimalist, these will generally include a bold, simple profile, large format glazing, a well-considered choice of cladding and colour, and a lack of ornamentation.

James Hardie’s range of cladding can be mixed and matched to a specific look or to create a personal style. Most of these cladding panels come primed and ready to paint to any desired hue and resist flaking, warping or swelling, meaning they require less maintenance to keep the look.

Whether you’re making room for a growing family or to get more out of your home, it’s important to consider adding more life to your home, not just more space.