Construction, expansion, renovation and superstructure? How do you distinguish between the different works?

Depending on the legal status of the building work you want to carry out on your home, you have different responsibilities. Find out how the different works are classified and what permits you need to obtain.

What are the types of building work?

Are you planning a major renovation of your home and wondering whether the works you are carrying out will fall under the definition of an extension or a superstructure? We will help you understand the definitions. Let’s start with the basics, namely construction.

Definition of construction

Construction is not only the erection of a new building, but also the extension of a building, reconstruction and superstructure. Simply put, the definition of construction includes all work that affects the volume of a building. It is imperative that you know that you need a building permit to legally carry them out. You will also need:

  • execution by an authorized person of a construction project,
  • hiring of a construction manager, 
  • compliance of the investment with the local spatial development plan, 
  • submission of a statement on the right to dispose of the real property, 
  • keeping of a construction log.

House extension

Extension is the first type of construction and it consists in adding rooms to an existing building or in enlarging rooms that already exist.

What is important, the extension is characterized by the fact that the newly created part of the building is set on new footings, foundation slab or on columns, so it is connected with earthworks. The extension increases the curvature of the building, its usable area and the surface of the building.

It is worth knowing that building a terrace and creating a new room is also included in the definition of extension. Such a situation was the subject of proceedings in the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Poznań, to which the judgment was delivered in 2013. Other examples of an extension are:

  • enlargement of a detached garage or outbuilding,
  • extension of already existing premises,
  • adding new premises, e.g. a garage.

What is an extension?

Another type of construction is superstructure, which involves increasing the volume of the building and its usable area. However, in case of superstructure the footprint does not change (which distinguishes it from extension). The new part of the building is created on the existing object. An example of superstructure can be:

  • adding a new storey,
  • construction of a room over the garage,
  • raising an existing storey.

As with construction and extension, a number of requirements must be met, including obtaining a building permit.

What is renovation?

A renovation is repair work in a broad sense. It is often defined as the restoration of a building’s original state. However, it is important to note that the definition of a renovation does not include maintenance works, but only repair works. A renovation would therefore be, for example: 

  • replacing damaged beams, 
  • replacement of windows (only if the new ones have identical dimensions), 
  • replacement of damaged gypsum boards, 
  • replacement of installations, 
  • replacement of plaster.

Importantly, the purpose of the renovation is to restore the original value of the building. If we undertake works which aim to increase the original usable value of the building, they fall under the definition of modernization (e.g. replacement of tiled stoves with a different type of heating, i.e. so-called thermo-modernization).

main photo: account – ID 12019

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