Renovating in Sydney for 40 Years

When it comes to Sydney home building, Chris Books has seen it all. As proprietor of Addbuild, Chris leads a construction business that has completed over 2,000 Sydney home renovations, extensions and additions in their 40-year history.

Along the way, there have been purple patches and testing times. Each brings their challenges, and Chris talks with pride about how Addbuild uses their experience to make sure the company continues to thrive.

Why Experience Matters

Chris is passionate about what he sees as the foundations of his company’s longevity, a company he joined in 1986 before becoming the owner in 2000.

“Addbuild was one of Sydney’s first builders specialising in extensions and additions, and because of that we have the industry know-how and contacts that allow us to predict and work through different situations,” Chris notes.

“That can be everything from how to best approach a tricky build on a sloping site with limited access, to knowing what to do because we’ve anticipated before anyone else that there’ll be a rush to build after a government stimulus is announced,” Chris explains.

“Our experience means we have back-up plans for when building work goes crazy, or when it drops off because of a market downturn. Typically, these scenarios can trip up less experienced builders.”

The Australian construction sector has had to cope with plenty of challenges recently – COVID, supply issues, inflation and interest rate rises – but, as Chris points out, Addbuild has been through many similar situations and have learnt to prepare.

“People forget that not long ago, the GFC was causing havoc,” Chris observes, “but even further back, in our first 10 years operating – the 1980s – Addbuild coped with record interest rates, the removal of negative gearing in 1985, before it came back, the stock market crash of 1987 and more.”

“We’re proud of our resilience, but it’s not an accident. Experience taught us to never take anything for granted and to have contingencies in place.”

Sydney Home Trends Since 1980

Formed in June 1980, Addbuild emerged at a time when Sydney homeowners cottoned on to the idea that expanding your home was often a better bet than selling and buying a bigger home.

In NSW, Stamp Duty was introduced in 1985, and this only accelerated the demand for renovations as people realised there was now even more ‘dead money’ involved in moving.

Simple demographics have played a major role: Sydney’s population was just over three million in 1980, but there’s now well over five million residents.

It was also a city where the housing stock was largely single storey ‘bungalows’.

All these factors meant that Sydney was primed for a boom in renovations.

Going ‘Up’ or ‘Out’

As you can tell from the name, Addbuild initially specialised in building additions – adding a second storey to a home.

Single storey homes on tight plots in suburbs close to the city (think workers cottages in places like Leichhardt, Balmain, Annandale, Rozelle and other inner-city suburbs) had a fantastic location, but no backyard to expand into.

Addbuild did start to branch out to extensions, especially after the trend to create living areas that flow into the backyard became an established trend.

This work became more common beyond the inner suburbs, in places like Croydon, Gladesville, Haberfield and further as the city expanded and where homes had bigger backyards.

“The wave of renovating a Sydney home hasn’t stopped,” says Chris. “We have expanding families of varying kinds.”

Whilst the majority are families having more kids, others are creating parent retreats when the kids become teenagers. Then there’s the rise of multi-generational living, and, more recently, the COVID-related demand for extra space to work and study from home.

Looking to Expand Your Home?

If you are looking to renovate and want further advice, Addbuild has compiled a range of resources to help.

We started our home improvement blog more than 8 years ago to help Sydney homeowners take advantage of our hard-won experience. There are now more than 90 articles covering many aspects of renovating.

You can download our Consumer Guide to Home Improvement, or subscribe to our Home Alterations Masterclass.

All these resources are free to use and share.

If you are ready to renovate now, call our office on (02) 8765 1555 or send us a message using our contact form if outside of office hours.

Addbuild offers a ‘concept-to-completion‘ service that includes experienced designers and the management of the Development Application process on your behalf.