Home Renovation Blog
Expert renovation tips and information about Home Additions and quality Renovations
You may heard about the prefabricated two storey additions being built in one day. Of course that is not possible, it is simply a marketing ploy. However, to test whether the idea has some merit, we put our research hats on to find out the pros and cons of this building method versus traditional construction, so that you can make your mind up for yourself what fits better for you.
The idea behind a box on top, is that the top storey is built off-site i.e. not at your home, in a workshop/factory, and when it is ready, it is transported and dropped on top of your home. There you go, a prefab second storey in one day. That is the claim. Of course that is ridiculous, there is a lot more involved. The existing roof needs to be removed, stairs need to be installed to join the ground floor with the second floor, the prefabricated top storey needs to be joined and services such as electricity and plumbing need to be connected, plus more.
Join us as we dig in deeper, comparing the differences between plonking a Box on Top of your home and a second storey addition that is custom-built on-site via the traditional method.
Drop-in second storey boxes are manufactured off-site – either in a workshop or factory – and then transported and dropped in onto the prepared home. In preparation the existing home needs partial demolition to take place, possible construction of new supporting walls and removal of the part of the roof where the box is to be located.
It is worth noting that this is not a new idea. However, in Perth some builders have recently adopted this approach as a way of systemising their second storey renovation projects.
In fact, we are certain this is not a new idea because Steve Burke actually experimented with this construction method way back in 1998 in a development in Doubleview. Working together with a business partner, they craned in pods and built 3 homes using this method.
Steve Burke said ‘At the time we thought if we could make this work it might be a great solution for low-cost basic housing for rural areas. It was potentially a solution for constructing basic homes for the north-west, where the conditions can be harsh for construction workers. What we found with second storeys though, was that joining the top and the bottom was not always that easy. There always seemed to be issues with the joins. We decided to abandon the idea, and was about this time that I decided to specialise in the renovations market, back when renovations were not in favour with big builders who were busy chasing the new home builders market.’
With some builders backing the Box on Top concept, they have invested in marketing to sell the idea.
Their main claim is that you get a second storey in one day. Sorry, this is simply not true, but is certainly a clever marketing ploy with a juicy baited hook to tempt homeowners. If you really want to believe this claim, then go for it, but I think most people can see thru this. It is simply not possible.
In fact, as Steve says “We often complete second storey additions while clients remain living in the home. Constructing the walls is actually easy and doesn’t take that long anyway. All the rest of the work still needs to be done such as roof cover, fit-out, insulation and much more.”
Well yes and no. That depends on what you are building. If it is a simple box, then perhaps quick and cheap is fine. To some extent whether you want cheap depends on the value of your home and your suburb. That said, custom-built timber frame second storeys do not take as long to build as you might think. Steve said ‘When we add a second storey, the top storey frame does not actually take that long to build, it is the fit-out and everything else involved that takes most of the time.’
The claim is that there is less disruption to your family life because you stay living in the home. However, they are also overlooking the fact that this is true when building via the traditional method too. Steve said ‘we build second storey additions for families using traditional methods with families that remain living in the home all the time.’
This is unproven, and potentially only true because the design is not customised and with a ‘box on top’ type approach it is offering a budget design. Make sure you do not affect the future value of your home with a cheap looking solution.
There are no weather delays because it is prefabricated off-site and therefore it is quicker. Steve says ‘in Perth we are blessed with great weather, and I have never experienced a delay due to weather that has affected the delivery date of the project.’
As Steve discovered many years ago, adding a modular second storey onto an existing home rarely lines up exactly square. As such, joining up the top and the bottom does not always work quite as expected. When it doesn’t work, it can be a nightmare. Potentially there will be patching and fixing to marry the top and the bottom. This has the potential to ruin the look and finish of your home.
But what is one of the main problems as we see it? Can we say it? Well, many just look plain ugly. Drive around and look at those just completed. You can pick the drop-in boxes on top a mile off. Not much style, and generally a simple boxy approach.
Steve added ‘After chatting with tradies that have worked on both types of construction, I am also hearing that when the Second Storey module is physically craned into place, that often ground floor roof is damaged at the same time.’
The decision about the construction method you choose is entirely your decision. However, when making your decision, we recommend considering these factors too:
? Are you interested in adding value to your home? If so, which option is better for long-term gain?
? Will you be under-captialising your home by opting for a poor quality design?
? Does your home have character features or heritage value that will potentially increase in value over time? Will you do it justice?
? Do you value quality construction? Are you sure this is what you will be getting?
? Do you value design flair?
? Do you want your home to have street appeal?
If you would like to chat with Steve about your second storey addition project, please contact us using the form below or on (08) 9227 1822.
“ We completed our first home renovation in North Perth with Amerex last year. We were undertaking a large two storey renovation of our dream home and the decision to choose Amerex came down to the high level of professionalism, expertise, excellent customer service and vast knowledge that Steve and the team displayed in character home renovations.Laila, North Perth 'We thoroughly enjoyed the building process'
We had not renovated in the past and we were very unsure of the process however Amerex staff spent a lot of time assisting us with the design process, they were always available to answer our enquires, provided valuable suggestions, were extremely patient and completed our project ahead of schedule.
We would highly recommend Amerex as we have ended up with a beautiful home that displays excellent workmanship and a highly functional design. The home is exactly as we imagined it to be and our family and friends have all complimented on the amazing final result.
We thoroughly enjoyed the building process with Steve and the highly skilled Amerex team and extend a big thankyou to all the staff who helped us along the way!! ”
“ I was fortunate to have Steve, Kelly and the team at Amerex build my extension.Cymbie, Mt Lawley 'Professional, highly skilled, approachable with exacting standards'
They are a professional, highly skilled, approachable business with exacting standards and the ability to work with you from the planning stage to completion.
This professionalism extends to all who come on site. Kelly's capable and warm project coordination ensures that everything runs like clockwork and all your queries are dealt with extreme efficiency.
Very Happy! ”
“ We signed up with Amerex for a very big renovation, bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom - the lot. We wanted to keep the look and feel of our character home in the extensions. Amerex were the right choice for that. They have an eye for detail and took the time to make sure things were done right. We've been very happy with the quality of their work.Ben, Inglewood 'They have an eye for detail and took the time to make sure things were done right'
We found Steve to be very responsive and professional. He kept the whole project moving along. We were complete novices going into the whole process and he took the time to go through the details so we could make more informed choices.
Would definitely recommend Amerex to anyone wanting to renovate. ”
“ From the first meeting with Amerex until the final check we have enjoyed the experience. Amerex have taken our words and ideas and built them into a quality finished home extension that is functional and everything that we had hoped for.Phil, North Perth 'Our extension has the "wow" factor'
The entire team at Amerex lead by Steve are friendly, reliable, use quality materials and produce a quality outcomes.
Our extension has the “wow” factor and guests comment on the exceptional open plan design that is built to entertain.
We are very happy with the final finish and would highly recommend them to anyone. ”
“ Steve and his team took our conceptual design and made our vision a reality in very quick time with practical completion of this major renovation within 7 months of the start date. The site supervision was tight which meant that the work progressed easily between the various trades.Christine, Wembley 'It was a real pleasure to deal with Steve and his team'
What is more, the estimated cost of the job was accurate with variations only to suit changes that we required. The outcome was a home that delivers so much more than we expected in terms of comfort, quality and our initial objectives.
It was a real pleasure to deal with Steve and his team. I would not hesitate to recommend Amerex to anyone who needs the services of a truly professional builder/renovator. ”
“ Amerex, lead by Steve, have clearly been in the building industry a long time and offered valuable input and guidance prior to, and during the build. They used skilled tradespeople and quality materials; no corners were cut and I felt confident that the build was of the highest quality.Rachel, Woodlands 'Steve has clearly been in the building industry a long time and offered valuable input and guidance'
Steve and his team communicated frequently with me along the way and I was involved at every step. I felt comfortable approaching him if I had any questions or concerns, he was always available and acted quickly to resolve any issues.
The team at Amerex were reliable, professional and a pleasure to deal with. In particular Kelly, who would often go ‘above and beyond’, was always positive, and nothing was ever too much trouble. ”
“ It was an absolute pleasure to deal with the Amerex team for our home renovation.Eric and Kris, Mt Lawley 'We received exceptional customer service'
From Steve Burke, to the office staff and all of the various tradespeople, we received exceptional customer service.
The skilled tradespeople were reliable, obliging & committed to the highest level of quality on our home.
Amerex came in on budget, they completed the work earlier than scheduled & they ensured our renovation ran smoothly throughout. ”
A member of the Amerex team will arrange a time to discuss your
renovation and additions project and assess what stage you are at in the building process.
PO Box 328, North Perth WA 6906
ABN: 67 009 252 680 Builders Registration: 10250