How to create a roof for a first-floor addition

Thinking of going up in the world? This family from Sydney’s lower North Shore managed to find the space they needed with a first-floor addition – and a beautiful new roof.

Hero front view of the Hamptons home

If you love the inner-city lifestyle, it might seem like it’s hard to balance the demands of a tiny home footprint with the needs of a growing family, but Alison and Andy found the perfect solution – a first-floor addition on their semi-detached cottage.

The Federation-era semi is located in NSW’s Crows Nest, close to lots of cafes and within walking distance to great schools. The family was keen to stay in the neighbourhood, which is why they decided to expand the home rather than buying something larger. 

“We love living here,” says Alison. “We were in Greenwich before and we downsized, and then we just found it was just slightly too small, so we went up again. It’s still not as big as what we came from, so I really like it. I really like the size of the house.”


As a semi, Alison and Andy needed to match their home’s other half, so to speak, with the roofing material because of local regulations. Their neighbours had already added in a second story. Alison chose Monier’s Terracotta Nouveau in Earth colour – a classic tile and shade that complements the era of the building.  The Terracotta Nouveau tiles have classic appeal, and an incredible lifespan. These new tiles replicated the original, which had survived for more than 100 years, largely intact.

The roofline was largely unchanged because of council restrictions, with the couple utilising the large roof cavity for their addition, adding a bedroom, study, bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. Amazingly, there was enough room for everything within the original roofline, although Alison says the bathroom was a tight fit. 

The couple kept the original chimney pots as well, a condition that was insisted on by the council, laying new tiles around them. However, Alison says she loves the character of the chimneys and they were happy to retain them. 

“They’re lovely, they look lovely,” she says. “It’s a beautiful house. And so yes, the chimney pots are totally in keeping.”


A stress-free project, the couple worked with builders Cape Cod Australia, who managed to complete the work in 14 weeks, with the couple staying in the house the whole time. 

Cape Cod specialises in first-floor additions, which is why the family chose them, along with positive word of mouth from friends who had used them on their building projects. 

“One of the reasons we chose them was that they’ve got the experience. We knew people who’d used them as well, we knew they’d stick to the timeline and they were just professional the whole way through.”


What to remember when renovating a semi

1. Council restrictions

Alison and Andy were subject to a number of regulations through their local council because they needed their work to be in keeping with the matching semi-detached building. This included keeping the addition within the existing roofline and matching the tiles of their neighbor.

2. Remember the heritage of the building

Federation-era buildings often have restrictions as to material use in order to maintain their integrity. Alison and Andy kept all the heritage features of the original cottage, including the chimney pots.

3. When in doubt, choose classic products

The Terracotta Nouveau tiles are crafted by Australians using raw materials from Australia. Every terracotta tile is hand crafted in Victoria. The proven heritage and enduring beauty of Terracotta is why the industry chooses to put Terracotta on their own homes.

4. It’s not unusual to extend a semi

For those outside the inner city, it might seem unusual to renovate a detached building, or add a first-floor addition, but this is very common in suburbs such as Crows Nest. Older Federation-era buildings often have under utilised space in the roof cavity, which can be taken advantage of.


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