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A Home Office By Extending Out or Up

For those of us craving an all-exclusive, full-on workplace at home that also increases the value of the property (courtesy of extension, alteration or addition) here are Terence Yong Architect's top five tips...

Be warned - as they are usually more costly, demanding and complicated it's best to call in the professionals...Especially when today's complex regulatory landscape is concerned! 

An outward extension

An outward extension can take the form of a light-filled and airy addition to a room or a light-filled and airy independent structure in an outdoor space. With the opportunity to create a separate, accessible entry, it is an excellent option for a house with a generously-sized outdoor space.

Pros 

  • Enhances the sense of space and utilisation of an adjoining room
  • Activates part of an underutilised outdoor space
  • Adds no vertical load on an existing structure
  • Requires no space-consuming staircase
  • A higher level of accessibility, safety, and cleanability*
  • Less disruption to day-to-day life*
  • Less time-consuming*
  • More cost-effective*
  • Less impact on neighbouring amenities*

An outward extension into a balcony or terrace

A balcony or terrace can be reimagined into a light-filled and airy, semi-outdoor workplace — or loggia — complete with skylights, windows, or louvres. It is an excellent option for a house or an apartment in a high-density living environment, which is usually more contentious when neighbouring amenities are concerned.

Pros

  • Enhances the sense of space and utilisation of an adjoining room
  • Acts as a thermal and acoustic buffer zone to an adjoining room
  • Adds a minimal vertical load, if any, on an existing structure
  • Requires no space-consuming staircase
  • Minimal disruption to day-to-day life
  • Relatively time-saving
  • Relatively cost-effective
  • Minimal impact on neighbouring amenities

An upward extension

An upward extension can take the form of a light-filled and airy addition to the whole or part of a structure complete with skylights, windows, or louvres. It is an excellent option for a house in a low-density living environment, which is usually less contentious when neighbouring amenities are concerned.

Pros 

  • Captures a breathtaking scenery, especially if a house is in a picturesque location
  • Preserves an outdoor space

Cons

  • Adds a vertical load on an existing structure;
  • Requires a space-consuming staircase
  • A lower level of accessibility, safety, and cleanability**
  • More disruption to day-to-day life**
  • More time-consuming**
  • Less cost-effective**
  •  More impact on neighbouring amenities**

An upward extension into an attic

An attic can be converted into a light-filled and airy, private workplace complete with skylights, dormer windows, or even balcony windows (a window that turns into a balcony). It is an excellent option for a house with a high-pitched roof.

Pros

  • Breathes new life into an otherwise abandoned indoor space
  • Acts as a thermal buffer zone to the room below
  • Captures a breathtaking scenery, especially if a house is in a picturesque location
  • Minimal disruption to day-to-day life
  • Relatively time-saving
  • Relatively cost-effective
  • Minimal impact on neighbouring amenities

Cons

  • Adds a vertical load on an existing structure
  • Requires a space-consuming

An upward extension into a ceiling's airspace

A ceiling's airspace can be transformed into a light-filled and airy, trendy workplace — or a mezzanine — complete with skylights, windows, or louvres. It is an excellent option for a house or an apartment with a high ceiling.

Pros

  • Creates coziness within a large room
  • Minimal disruption to day-to-day life
  • Relatively time-saving
  • Relatively cost-effective
  • No impact on neighbouring amenities

Cons

  • Adds a vertical load on an existing structure 
  • Requires a space-consuming staircase

It is important to seek professional advice and carry out a comprehensive feasibility study before embarking on an extension.

An extension needs to be sympathetic to the existing structure and its surroundings and meet regulatory requirements. It also needs to optimise natural light and cross-ventilation while being adequately shaded and insulated.

Adopting step four: Embracing Natural Living in the first part of 'Working From Home Office Design Tips' further contributes to environmental sustainability as well as health
and wellbeing.

Footnote

  • Neighbouring amenities include view, natural light, and privacy
  • *Generally when compared to an upward extension
  • **Generally when compared to an outward extension.

Did you know?

Little Albion was made possible by carrying outward and upward extensions from a heritage-listed, Victorian Gothic-style former convent on a tiny urban infill site. Their shape and form celebrate the significant elements of the neighbouring buildings, especially the adjacent church gable wall and trinity windows while maintaining neighbouring amenities. Their eclectic composition creates a microcosm of Surry Hills.

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