Should I Build Under, Up or Out?

As local Brisbane builders, we’re often asked by clients about the best and most cost-effective ways to renovate. Essentially, there are four options when it comes to renovating your home – you could build under; build up; build out; or renovate within your existing space.

Keep reading to learn more about each option in detail…

Building Under

Many Queensland homes lend themselves to the idea of building in underneath. When you don’t have the space to extend or you don’t want to encroach on precious yard space, you can either:

  • Raise your house and build in underneath
  • Excavate under and build below the existing house

Both of these options will allow you to achieve a legal height living space – above 2100mm for a kitchen, laundry, hallway or corridor and 2400mm for all other rooms.

Building under is a great way to create a self-contained unit for relatives or guests, a teenage retreat, workshop, garage or hobby area. It could even become an office space for working from home – something that’s proven very important in 2020.

This is probably one of the most common types of renovations in Brisbane’s older suburbs, largely because it is cost-effective – you’ll avoid many of the costs associated with a standard renovation such as roofing and structural works. It can also mean minimal disruption to the living space.

If you opt to excavate under and build below your existing home, it is possible that you can stay at home during construction. However, if you are raising the existing house to build under, you will need to move out as power, water and drainage services will be temporarily disconnected and stairs will need to be constructed to connect the two levels.

Building Up

When you add an additional storey to your home, you’ll likely be rewarded with spectacular views of your surrounds. This is a particularly good option if other structures in your immediate area are single storey or you want to achieve views of the beach, busy or city. Building up may also be your only option, due to site constraints like space or soil type.

At our recent Paddington renovation, we added a second storey to the existing 100-year-old house because there were overland flow issues which prevented us from building in under. The result was a beautiful extension, which almost doubled the size of the house. Due to the site constraints, this was a tricky job and would not have been possible without our very experienced carpenters.

Building Out

If you are lucky enough to have the space to do so, building out is a brilliant option. At one of our recent projects in Runcorn, we renovated an existing house on a 900m2 block, doubling the living space by building out. We also added a huge outdoor area. With everything on one level, this was one of the most liveable houses we have ever built.

There are two ways you can build out:

  1. A conventional extension connected to the existing house through blending new with old.
  2. A stand-alone pavilion extension connected to the existing house with an enclosed or semi-enclosed walkway. This type of extension ticks a lot of boxes for today’s extended families.

Renovating your Existing Space

How about making the most of the space you have with a freshen up of your existing home? This type of renovation is very popular at the moment, and as you’ll be making very few structural changes to your house, it can be an extremely cost-effective option.

A good designer or architect paired with a good builder can transform the inside of your house into something beautiful and much more liveable for far less money than any other type of renovation.


If you’re interested in learning more about one of the above renovation options, or are ready to chat about your Brisbane home renovation, get in touch with Brian and the team at Eiffe Builders today.

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