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Mar 14, 2019

Prefabricated second storey in one day…tell ’em their dreaming

Mar 14, 2019

Two storeys in one day? Or just a Box on Top?


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.

You may have heard of this idea being referred to as any one of the following terms:

box on top
• modular or two storey modular
• prefab or prefabricated second storey
• factory-built second storey
• drop-in second storey or drop-in pod


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.


Box on Top is not a new idea

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.’


Box on Top /pre-fab second storeys – the Big Claims and the Big Sell

With some builders backing the Box on Top concept, they have invested in marketing to sell the idea.


Prefabricated second storey additions Perth (1)

CLAIM: Second Storey One Day? …Sorry, so not true

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.”


CLAIM: It is quicker than a custom build…nup

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.’


CLAIM: less disruption…same same

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.’


CLAIM: It is cheaper…only if the solution is cheap

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.


CLAIM: No weather delays…nup

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.


Potential Prefabricated Second Storey problems

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.’



Ensure your Second Storey Addition adds value to your Home

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.

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home renovation project and assess what stage you are at in the building process.

PO Box 115, Osborne Park WA 6917
ABN: 67 009 252 680   Builders Registration: 10250


1/171-173 Main St, Osborne Park WA 6017

PO Box 115, Osborne Park WA 6917

t: (08) 9227 1822
e: info@amerex.com.au

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Google Reviews

Amerex Renovations and Additions
Based on 17 reviews
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Graham Crooke
Graham Crooke
07:24 06 Jun 20
I can't say enough good things about this company! Everyone on the team was extremely professional, but also friendly and easy to deal with. Communication by them was first rate. We gave them approved architect plans for addition to our home and they quickly responded with a well-thought-through bid that was very competitive in price. As soon as we agreed on the contract, they were very quick to get started, and then built exactly what was in the plan, making only a couple of (clearly communicated) changes to increase strength and reduce cost. Subcontractors showed up when promised and were very friendly, as well as tidy with their work, cleaning up at the end of each day and doing a general cleanup at the end of the week (we lived in the rest of the house during construction). The work was completed a very high standard. They also helped with some other repairs around the house (like fixing a gutter that flowed down a wall rather than the down-pipe). The project was completed on time and on budget. They are very nice people and were a pleasure to work with. I recommend them highly and would definitely hire them again!
Garth Mason
Garth Mason
12:29 03 Feb 20
We can recommend Amerex without hesitation. Steve Burke & his team really do produce renovations of the highest quality and standard. Their many Master Builder and HIA awards demonstrate this and look at any of their online case studies and you'll see why Amerex have such an A+ reputation. We contracted Amerex to design, manage and build our character home renovation and 2 storey addition. It was, in Steve's words, "a big job" and took 14 months from demolition to completion. What sets Steve apart is his attention to detail and his integrity, and that of his contractors and staff. Whatever you have signed on for is what Amerex will take great pride in delivering. And even post-build, the customer service is still outstanding. We couldn't be happier with the end result. - Garth & Shelley Mason
Natasha Sealey
Natasha Sealey
13:23 28 Jan 20
We are really happy with the quality of the work done by Amerex. Everyone comments on how fantastic our place looks and how seamlessly the renovations integrate with the existing house. They have a great team who go above and beyond and are lovely to work with. We may even renovate again one day.... :)
Karen Simpson
Karen Simpson
14:32 07 Jan 20
Amerex recently completed a renovation/extension for my parents and the experience was positive from start to finish. We initially discussed the brief with a number of builders and decided to sign up with Amerex as we felt we could trust Steve and his team. It was absolutely the right decision. Steve insisted on good 'old fashioned' service, honesty, integrity, quality products and exceptional craftsmanship from all involved including Amerex team members, designers, tradespeople and suppliers. Everyone was polite, punctual and respectful of the neighbours. As the build progressed, Amerex's reputation became evident. Suppliers, tradies and designers all spoke highly of Steve and commented on the exceptional quality of his renovations and extensions. This was reassuring. Members of the Amerex team were outstanding from the outset. They all went above and beyond what was expected to address any concerns we had, to initiate changes when required and to ensure that the build was on time and on budget. Post completion customer service has also been exemplary. Nothing was ever too much trouble and Kelly's ongoing coordination and responses continued to be prompt and friendly. Mum and Dad love their 'new' home and couldn't be happier with the end result. The old and new sections of the house blend seamlessly and they are continually receiving comments from neighbours, family and friends about how beautiful the house has become. We can recommend Amerex without hesitation.
Cymbie Burgoyne
Cymbie Burgoyne
01:41 17 Jan 19
I was fortunate to have Steve, Kelly and the team at Amerex build my extension. Their's is 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 management ensures that everything runs like clockwork and all your queries are dealt with extreme efficiency. Very Happy!
Laila Gizzarelli
Laila Gizzarelli
07:11 19 Dec 18
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. 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 complemented 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( Kelly, Loretta, Maryanne and Pete !)
Eric Trevaskis
Eric Trevaskis
06:21 11 Dec 17
It was an absolute pleasure to deal with the Amerex team for our home renovation. From Steve Burke the office staff & the various tradespeople, we received exceptional customer service. The skilled tradespeople were reliable, obliging & committed to the highest level of quality on our home. NOTHING was too much trouble. Steve, Pete (the foreman ) & the office staff, especially Kelly, were always available either on the phone or on site if we had any queries. We knew we could always make direct contact with them & that any queries would be quickly resolved. We felt that we received a very personal & professional service from the Amerex team. Amerex came in on budget, they completed the work earlier than scheduled & they ensured our renovation ran smoothly throughout. Thank you Amerex. We love our "new" home and our family and friends are amazed at the transformation. We would wholeheartedly recommend Amerex. Eric & Kristine Trevaskis. .
Jacqui Seymour
Jacqui Seymour
05:52 09 Aug 17
AMAZING experience. We have just completed a major renovation, and over 18 months dealing with Steve and the AMEREX team. We had a 1930's California bungalow and required the character at the front to be maintained whilst adding almost an entire new house to the back including a second story. We have built twice before, both new homes one with larger builders. The difference between that and our experience with AMEREX was astounding. This was actually an exciting and pleasurable experience throughout. Rather than a number or just "another" client, we were made to feel part of the AMEREX family. The office staff (Loretta, Kelly and Maryanne) are a pleasure to deal with, nothing is ever too much effort. Kelly in particular is a great help with all the various selections and changes and is always smiling! We did not have an issue with a single tradesman throughout. And finally Pete (working foreman) and Steve (owner) are the most hands on, professional and customer focused we have ever met. I was able to speak to either at any time regarding any issue, many times Steve would suggest changes on site to improve the look or function of the renovation and Pete can do it all. No variation fees, complete flexibility, great workmanship direct line to the owners/supervisor, quality finish. We could not recommend AMEREX highly enough. Brenton and Jacqui Seymour Daglish
Rachel Green
Rachel Green
03:57 04 Aug 17
Amerex carried out a large renovation for us in 2015; almost a year-long project. 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. 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. People who visit our home always comment on the finish and quality of the build, most believing it’s a new home and not a renovation. I will definitely use Amerex again, and would be happy to recommend them.
Phillip Madden
Phillip Madden
02:52 24 Nov 16
From the first meeting with Loretta from Amerex until the final check we have enjoyed the experience with Amerex. They have taken our words and ideas and built them into a quality finished extension that is functional and everything that we had hoped for. 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.
Christine Tonkin
Christine Tonkin
09:05 24 Oct 16
The renovation of our home was its third reincarnation as it was originally a very ordinary rectangular 1950s Roman Catholic outpost church which we turned into a house on a tight budget in the late 1980s. As is usually the case, this current renovation was very significant and emotional for me and my family but more unusually, I was living overseas for almost all of the time the renovation was undertaken. We wanted a home that would comfortably accommodate our family and overseas and interstate visitors, provide a focus for entertaining a crowd, as well as being low maintenance and energy efficient. We selected Amerex as our builder because Steve Burke and his very competent team gave our family the confidence that they could be trusted to undertake this renovation professionally and sensitively including communicating progress every step of the way. 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. 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.
Dona Mecham
Dona Mecham
04:07 11 Oct 16
This is the first renovation/building undertaking we have experienced and we cannot speak highly enough of the quality Amerex provided. The project design was flawless, and we were extremely impressed with the marrying of the old and new. The attention to detail provided by Steve and his team was outstanding and our friends and family are quick to note this. We love the extra space and seamless flow of our family home. The Amerex commitment to using quality trades and ensuring the trades delivered on time and rectifying issues, was present throughout the building of our home. This gave us great peace of mind and for these reasons we would not hesitate to recommend Amerex.’
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