First Things First- How To Best Approach A Remodelling Design

A successful second storey addition (aka first floor addition) requires understanding your budget limitations and basic design principles so that you achieve the additional space you are looking for in your home- both from a design and a functional perspective.



It’s easy for homeowners to fall into the trap of getting carried away with second storey addition (aka first floor addition) designs without first considering an appropriate budget for the project that will not break the bank. It sounds simple in theory to set a budget, however in practice too many people get caught out by not having a clear and definitive budget before embarking on a remodeling project. What are the common blind spots for homeowners when setting a budget for a second story addition? Here are some common mistakes made:

  • Allowing cost to be the sole variable in judging trade services. In fact many homeowners have been burnt by going with cheapest service provider on an hourly basis only to find that it has taken the tradesperson twice as long to complete the work. Do your homework when choosing a suitable building company so you can get a feel for their reliability and how well they meet original costs for work. The lesson learned is that quality stands for a lot particularly when you are managing the budget of a remodeling project.
  • Setting a fixed figure budget. Not even the most experienced estimators for a building project meet the cost 100 per cent of the time – unexpected things come up that can throw things out. This could be due to extra engineering or Council requirements, or even when home owners have required changes to their initial selections. It is more practical to set a budget with tolerance levels, for example, allowing an additional 5 to 10% of your budget for the project to still be financially viable. The key here is to make sure you’re working with a builder who will communicate with you every step of the way so there aren’t any rude shocks.
  • Not knowing the true cost of fixtures or appliances. Estimating the cost of fixtures and appliances based on what a friend or relative paid, particularly when they live in another state, can be a recipe for significantly underestimating costs! What a second story renovation costs in QLD can be very different to what it costs in NSW so again take your time in doing your research.


It’s exciting when you finally have made the decision to add a second storey to your house. Using an online design board so that you can imagine more clearly what your new second story addition will look like and allow you to collate your ideas to discuss with your builder. Before you commence it is best to create three lists: needs, wants and “nice-to-haves.”

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between needs and wants, however it is vital that this is done so that you don’t find yourself going overboard with your design to only find out when the costs are estimated that the “needs” of your project are unaffordable, crushing your dreams of reinventing your house.

It’s also good to know limitations with online inspiration boards before you get disappointed with the final look. It is very difficult to visualize a 3D remodeling design in 2D. The most important thing is to have your expectations of a project aligned with reality so you are not disappointed with the final delivery. Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) has developed in leaps and bounds over the last decade and can be the best way to visualise what a second story remodel will look like in 3D. Your builder will be able to help bring these ideas to life for you so you can clearly visualise what your home will look like.


When renovating for a second level you need to plan for everything and most of all not to forget the fine details – this is where working with a builder like Keystone comes in. This is what we do, and we do it well so those crucial details aren’t missed.

Plan enough space

The last thing you need when you remodel an area is to not plan for enough living space. Believe it or not many couples can fall into the trap by not getting a draftsman to develop a proper floorplan that includes scale cut outs of fittings and fixtures. By developing a floorplan to scale you will not be disappointed when you start fitting in your new products and furnishings because you know exactly what space is available. You should also think in advance and ask questions about your future living requirements such as do you need more space because you are planning for more kids? Or (tongue-in-cheek) will you need a parents retreat to get away from all the additional kids you plan to have in the future?

Plan for a complementary addition

One of the pitfalls some second storey renovations can fall into is remodeling a space that does not complement the look and feel of the original house. While adding square metres to a house can transform a poorly laid plan to perfectly meet the space requirements of occupants, it should be done so that the addition retains and better still improves the aesthetic appeal of a house. This can be best achieved by getting a qualified architect in that has a broad range of experience in developing second storey renovations so that the home renovation both from an exterior and an interior perspective blends together.

Plan for double functionality

Despite best attempts, sometimes you still can’t achieve all the additional space you need so to further utilise and maximise the space created in a home it is important to also envisage the right furniture that will work to enhance space provided. Ideally, design features and furniture should be used that serves two or three purposes. For example a kitchen bar with stools can serve both as a homework spot for the kids as well as a gathering spot for dinner guests when entertaining. In a living room, introduce inbuilt features that create additional storage like shelves or cabinets or perhaps bench seating that provides both additional sitting room as well as storage. Also think to the future when considering functionality – you may need all those bedrooms now, but when the kids are grown you may want to use the rooms for something else so make sure you’re not restricting their use.

Ready to find out more about how to bring your second storey addition (aka first floor addition) dreams to life? Get in touch with us today to organise a meeting with our team.

First Things First- How To Best Approach A Remodelling Design