Build ‘a house on a house’ to create space in your home

As the family grows, it calls for clever ways of expanding the home to accommodate the new members.  Or it could be that when you built your house, you had limited finances so you put up something small.

But now that you are better off financially, you want to expand your home. You can do this sideways, if you have a large expanse of land, or go upwards if you do not want to compromise your compound space.

According to Jackeline Naula, an architect in Kampala, you can increase your home space by constructing a structure on top of your house to accommodate a few self-contained bedrooms and a patio.

You can increase your home space by constructing a structure on top of your house

She adds if planned well, the extension adds value to your home and allows family members to enjoy a spacious home, without overwhelming the existing structure.

Nevertheless, there are unexpected costs that come with remodelling which have to be budgeted for like rewiring, plumbing, roofing and others.

 How to do it

“Before embarking on this project, assess the suitability of your house for extension. Consider the strength of the walls, foundation and beam,” Naula notes.

She adds that to avoid shoddy work and wrong designs, all work should be done by experts like architects, civil engineers, electricians, plumbers and others in bits or at one go.

“Get plans drafted and ascertain whether the foundation, walls and roofing are strong enough to hold the weight of the existing house,” she advises.

Make sure your plan is approved by the authorities.

Robert Ndyashaba, a civil engineer with Frendy Contractors, adds that the homeowner, with the help of the experts, should determine how and where the extension is going to sit.

Is it on top of the garage, lounge or the whole house? “Be ready to move out when the builders move in. If you decide to stay during construction, brace yourself for turning off services at key stages like electricity and water while wiring and plumbing,” he explains.

Erecting the structure

Ndyashaba cautions against demolishing the house and erecting pillars in one go because it weakens the structure. He says that it should be done in intervals of at least a week in between to achieve a strong and durable structure.

Before embarking on this project, assess the suitability of your house for extension. Consider the strength of the walls, foundation and beam

Before embarking on this project, assess the suitability of your house for extension. Consider the strength of the walls, foundation and beam

“Erect enough columns with at least three meters between them and create a strong beam that will hold the mass of the upper structure,” he affirms.

Decide on the size of the bedrooms you plan to construct and make sure the columns correspond with those on the house like on the shade.

“For a three-bedroom house seated on 50×100 plot, you can add not more than two medium size bedrooms, so as to leave space for the bathrooms,” he states.

Muhammad Nsereko, an architect with 3M Design and construction says the toilets and bathrooms should be in the same line with the ones on the existing house for easy plumbing and drainage.

Roofing

“Avoid roofing with tiles if the foundation, beam and walls are too weak to hold their weight. Use lighter, but quality iron sheets and the walls should be 230mm,” Ndyashaba cautions.

He adds that one must consult a roofing expert to determine which of the two – the roof and ceiling – goes first.

“You may have to remove the entire roofing system to prepare for a slab, column and beam structure for strong upper rooms,” he explains.

Ndyashaba further explains that you can change an ordinary garble roof into split smaller and lower pieces to enhance the uniqueness of your house.

To avoid shoddy work and wrong designs, all work should be done by experts like architects, civil engineers, electricians, plumbers and others in bits or at one go

To avoid shoddy work and wrong designs, all work should be done by experts like architects, civil engineers, electricians, plumbers and others in bits or at one go

Risks

  • The existing structure might diminish in strength as modifications are carried out
  • There is risk of sudden collapse of some parts if not handled professionally
  • Final product might lack coherence between the existing and the new additions
  • Inaccuracy is very possible when carrying out works, leading to more demolitions
  • Changes in the downstairs space may be inconveniencing
  • The house height and coverage may conflict with the council’s standards
  • Renovations may strain the budget
  • The ravages of overturning the house might affect members
  • Scaffolding and extra materials to strengthen the roof can be costly

Simple questions to answer before demolishing

  1. Naula says that before demolishing and adding a structure to another, the homeowner with the expert should answer the following questions;
  2. How can I extend upwards to gain more space
  3. How high and wide can my extension be
  4. How deep and wide do my stairs need to be
  5. How can I maximise natural light flow
  6. How long will the construction take
  7. Are we staying on-site or moving?
  8. What is the cost of expanding the house?

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