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STRUCTURAL

While some homeowners might opt for a relatively simple remove and replace upgrade of a kitchen or bathroom, others may explore a more complex renovation which requires structural changes, which may or may not require engaging an architect, depending on the scope of the works.

In the case of a private residential home

Generally speaking, in the case of a private residential home, internal structural changes do not require the services of an architect, nor approvals by external bodies, unless these impact on windows, doors and rooflines – i.e. on any external element. You can reposition a vanity, bath, shower, or toilet, move a toilet from a separate compartment into an adjoining bathroom, or remove a bath with a shower over and replace it with a shower unit, add a laundry, etc., all without needing approval. However, for strata properties, the addition or moving of wet areas or extra plumbed fittings, will in most cases require approval by the Strata body.
It is best if one company is able to undertake all such projects, including changing windows and doors (which may or may not require some level of Council approval). Larger extensions and adding/removing levels, would require both architectural plans and the various government approvals, etc..
Just as with other elements, it is possible to achieve very individual as well as practical effects architecturally. Consider things such as:
Just as with other elements, it is possible to achieve very individual as well as practical effects architecturally. Consider things such as:
  • Removing walls to create a more open plan. Re-configuring spaces is also a great way to better use the space available, i.e.. eliminating a linen closet near a bathroom will allow for extra room in an otherwise cramped and awkwardly shaped space.
  • Creating feature walls or columns to hide posts/beams – perfect when it is impossible or outside of the budget to remove the support.
  • Squaring off curved archways is a great way to modernise an interior. Removing timber surrounds, and square setting the edges, also assists in this way.
  • Moving the location of a door or window. The relocation of an internal door, in particular, may provide a relatively cost-effective way of more efficiently using the space. Relocating external doors or windows, whilst sometimes desirable, may, however, unnecessarily add to the budget.
  • Changing conventional hinged doors to sliding, bi-fold doors, or French doors, especially when they lead to an alfresco area adjacent to your kitchen. Stable and barn-style doors are also popular at the moment. These allow for the use of different materials to add a special design feature.
  • Enlarging/reducing windows or changing standard windows to ones with a special design focus. Bay windows, particularly when teamed with a seating area below them, create a very appealing look, especially beautiful in a more traditional setting.
  • Addition of wall niches with lighting to add mood, as well as a way to display ornaments.
  • Bulkheads – rather than taking joinery all the way to the ceiling, which can be a costly way to hide away items you rarely use, consider bulkheading above your cabinets. This gives a much more professional, built-in finish, and conveniently allows space for flues and vents, whilst still eliminating that dreaded space above your cabinets where dust and grease can collect. Bulkheads can also be extended forward, and downlights placed under them, in order to bring task lighting even closer to the user. Be sure to discuss with our designers what options are available to you.
  • And do not forget the ceiling, recessed ceilings, particularly in a lounge or bedroom can really add a very special ‘designer look’, and takes the design to another level, especially when recessed lighting is added. In kitchens, dropping the ceiling (if height allows) is also a great way to subtly define the kitchen space in an otherwise open-plan design. It also allows for lighting to be more effective, as it is brought closer to users.
  • It could also be a great time to level out the floor space, if you have previously had split levels, ceiling height permitting, of course.
A bathroom renovation where the existing room is, say, being split in half, creating two areas, is a reasonable shift away from the original bathroom layout. If for example, you wish to remove a common wall between an existing separate toilet and adjoining bathroom, a structural engineer would need to provide a certificate and advise the exact type of supports (if any) which are required.
Additional structural works to a kitchen renovation including plumbing or electrical will add cost, but also time to the renovation timeline.
Structural changes can dramatically improve a space. Where building works such as extending the house or changing internal walls are being considered, it is important to consider whether the result of more space, better layout, and increased storage will justify the extra expense, time and effort.