Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Building an addition to your home is an exciting venture that offers immense benefits to you and your family. It should not only be made to increase the resale value of your home. If you plan on making an addition, what must you know beforehand?
Before starting your home addition, you must know that making home improvements will be different. A home addition is no easy task; it requires planning. Write down your plan, think about what you want to include, and make consultations with the right designers and contractors.
The rest of this article will give you a detailed outline of what you need to know before building an addition, its pros, and cons.
1. Permits and Inspections
Throughout the building process, just like a remodel, your addition will require permits and inspections. They are necessary because they assist in ensuring that all building codes are followed and that the necessary steps are taken to ensure the safety of the structure. Before you start building an addition, familiarize yourself with these permits because foregoing any of them will cost you dearly.
If you forgo the electrical permit, your insurance will not cover you if a problem occurs, such as a fire due to electrical malfunctions. Also, if your contractor files out a permit or you file one, you are solely responsible for the work that comes with it. Some of the permits include electrical, structural, gas, plumbing, and any local permits required by your municipality or township.
2. Property Lines
Local buildings impose restrictions on how close your building can be constructed to your neighbors, adjacent vacant lots, and roadways. Though you’re making the addition on your property, it is necessary to carry out a property survey to determine accurate property lines. Develop a plan for your plot, and include your landscape, home, and location of utilities.
You will likely become familiar with these restrictions during permit applications for your addition. However, it is better to understand them before getting to the permit phase.
3. Impact on Existing Architecture
Building an addition requires some level of finesse for it to tie nicely with the existing design. As you try to modernize the look, consider how parts such as the roofline connect to the structure and how your floor plans develop consistency.
Also, consider how to compliment the addition of the finish materials on the exterior and interior, utilities, cooling and heating, and windows. Consider your family’s lifestyle and tastes to create a modern and functional addition.
4. Scope of Work and Necessary Materials
Building an addition is no easy task, especially when you are unaware of the materials and scope of work. By discussing with your designer and contractor, you can come up with a list of all the features you desire. Also, include first, second, and third options on your design features to give your contractor a clear picture of what you want and what to prioritize.
5. Your Objective: Make It Clear
Ask yourself what you want to achieve out of the additional space. As much as this venture can be exciting, make sure to account for the addition and the part of your home that you want to construct the addition. To get the best solution, weigh your options. For instance, you can make a livable addition to your house’s unfinished section, construct a new floor, or enclose a porch. However, first, discuss this with an expert.
6. Local Building Codes
Although you’re using your money to build an addition on your property, there are local building codes and regulations you should comply with. Every locality has different codes and regulations that are used to determine if it is possible for you to carry out an addition or not.
Particulars such as the age and location of your property will determine if you will have additional regulations on your addition. Before committing to building a home addition plan, you should carry out some due diligence in this area.
7. Your Contractor
Before you start a home addition or buy supplies, a contractor should be able to make your work easy by laying down facts on how to go about it. He/she can either make it a success or a failure. Therefore, you need to establish if they have done that kind of project before, whether they are adequately insured and licensed, and if they have any references from previous clients.
Ensure that all these are well documented. Get them to quote their price and compare it against what you’re looking for and the value it will bring to your addition. Compare bids from different contractors, especially if they give you different approaches to your construction.
Once you have set your objectives and are sure that you will comply with the building codes, you can start exploring your design options. Call in a professional designer to assist you or carry out online searches. If you’re building an entirely new addition, it is crucial to establish if you want a new design or if it should look like that of your home.
If it is an addition to your current space, you might want the design to flow with the existing design or deviate slightly to make it feel different. Ensure that your design options meet the needs of your project and make a seamless transition.
9. Project Timeline
Building an addition requires that you make sacrifices, especially if you’re living in the house or from your busy schedule. Therefore, it is essential to have a project timeline and have your contractor present you with a schedule for the entire project. With this, you will determine if you are comfortable with the time intended for your project to take.
If you are uncomfortable with it for one reason or the other, you can discuss this with your contractor in good time. If you want your addition to take a shorter time, you may have to choose a different design or fixtures that will help to reduce the schedule. Making a building addition is an endeavor that will consume a lot of time. Be ready to commit your time to it for you to make realistic expectations.
10. Budget Estimates
Building addition will require a hefty investment. Before you start making plans, you must know how much you’re willing to spend. The first question you will receive from many contractors is your budget. With a budget estimate, they can determine if your expectations for the building additions are realistic.
If your budget is realistic, you can discuss your ambitions; if not, it is an opportunity to discuss other options that coincide with your budget. The price per square foot usually determines the budget, and by comparing it to what you have, you will better understand what you’re working with.
11. Hidden Costs
Even after estimating your budget for the building addition, ensure you set aside money for extra costs. These costs can arise from purchasing materials, using more gas when driving, and others like:
- Plumbing – Finding the right plumber for your addition is vital. You will also require extra plumbing materials and adhere to building codes. Plumbing is a labor-intensive job that increases costs dramatically.
- Permits – Most parts of the addition will require a permit, which costs money, depending on the estimated project cost. You will require permits for electricity, plumbing, and the structure. Sometimes, your contractor will refuse to pull up the permits, meaning you must do it yourself, taking time away from your work.
- Electricity – Electrical work requires a professional to adhere to building codes because it is highly scrutinized during an inspection. You will need to install a new breaker, new electric boxes, and light fixtures, all of which pose additional costs.
- Surprise fees – Your contractor cannot make all the right predictions. Therefore, having a section in your budget for unexpected fees is advisable. Apart from the square footage, your contractor might have to bring in special tools to dig the land and materials to support the structure.
- Storm shelters – Weather changes constantly, and it is necessary to take caution by having a storm shelter as construction continues. In some states, you need to apply for a permit to build a storm shelter, bringing in an additional cost. During stormy weather, your land may be destroyed, increasing the time and hence more labor costs.
12. Whether to Live In or Move Out During Construction
If you’re adding to an existing space in your home, living in the house during construction or moving out is available. Living in can prove to be inconvenient for you and the contractor. Equally, some building materials emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may be harmful to you and your family’s health.
Discuss with your contractor to get a clear picture of the conditions you will be living in and determine if you are willing and comfortable to endure them for the specified period.
13. If the Addition Will Be of Value to Your Home
If you plan on selling your home, an addition may make it more attractive to potential buyers when the time comes. It can also save you on remodeling costs. A building addition outside the house space can add value in the sense that you can rent it out, or future buyers can turn it into a rental.
Building a home addition is a costly endeavor, and even if you have no plans on selling your home any time soon, you might as well get the best appraisal.
14. Other Ways of Minimizing the Cost
Your home addition can go wider or taller. A second story, unlike building afresh, is less costly. You can add a master bedroom, create a spare guest room, or facilities such as storage and a gym. If you have a small yard area, this should not limit you. However, you can always consult an expert if you are unsure about adding a second story due to your existing foundation.
15. How the Addition Will Affect Your Family and Your Bills
Before you begin building an addition, you must get your family’s opinion. The addition and construction will affect them, and it is best to ensure they are on board with all the plans. The construction process could also mean working with less space for a while. Ensure that you and your family are well prepared for these changes and possible discomfort.
An addition will increase the usable space, which also translates to your monthly energy bills for lighting and air conditioning. Your bathroom and kitchen may also consume more water. Manage these expectations before you start building an addition.
Benefits of Building an Addition
Home additions are highly advantageous for both you and your family. Some of the benefits your addition will grant you are:
Additional Value to Your Home
As a homeowner, you must ensure that your property is highly valued in the market, especially if you plan on selling. One of the most effective ways is building an addition. It can boost your property’s square footage and make the living spaces more flexible, hence increasing its overall value. You will likely solve existing problems during the addition, attracting competitive buyers.
More Affordable Than Moving
No matter what kind of home addition you undertake, it will always be better and less costly than moving. Moving is a hassle that entails packing, hiring a moving company, and rearranging your household items in the new house. Building an addition takes a shorter time, and other parts, such as framing and concrete, can be done before construction starts in your existing home.
Building an addition gives you more space that you didn’t have before. You can have a home gym, Jacuzzi, extra-large bathrooms, and master bedrooms. You have room for all the lavish items you always wanted, for example, his and hers sinks, walk-in closets, or perhaps a bathtub. Outdoor home additions such as a porch, swimming pool, and entertainment area can give you the luxury of relaxation together with family and friends.
Can Be Rented Out to Earn an Extra Income
You can choose to build an entirely new bed and bathroom that you can rent. While this kind of construction is costly and may cramp your home, it is an excellent way to earn extra income and pay back the building’s cost. It is not a commonly taken route, but you cannot ignore it with the current trends in our times.
You can also use the extra space as room for out-of-town guests who need a place to stay for a short period, like a few nights.
It Creates More Room
One of the wishes you might have as a homeowner is more room to store your gym equipment, bikes, photo albums, and other items that are used occasionally but cramp your house. An addition will add to your square footage in whichever forms you choose to undertake, such as the kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, and living area. Whichever addition you choose, it will grant you the extra space you’ve always wished for.
According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, almost forty percent of young adults between the ages of 18 to 31 live at home with their folks, while over 4.6 million elders in 2012 moved back in with their children. An addition creates extra space that guests or relatives can use.
Cons of Building a Home Addition
Before you build an addition, you must know its disadvantages, though it has many benefits. Some of the cons of building an addition are:
- Takes up a lot of property space: A home addition that is not a second story will cause you to lose yard space, and you can never recover it. If you have children or pets, this will be taken away from their play area.
- It is emotionally draining: Although you may find this venture thrilling during the first few days, people will soon fill up your house with construction materials. You may end up getting irritated by the noise, dust, and lack of privacy.
- A higher price is not always guaranteed: An addition will cause you to incur peripheral costs like increased taxes, more cleaning, and higher energy bills. Even though there is a chance of a higher resale price, it is always a gamble, and you may lose money.
Building an addition may seem like a thrilling endeavor, but there are things you should know before you commence. Consider how it’ll affect your family and bills, the project timeline, design, budget estimates, hidden costs, and whether to live in or move out during construction.
Your addition will come with benefits like additional luxury and more room. You can also rent out extra space; if you plan on selling, it may increase your property value. However, whether you will get a higher resale price is always a gamble. Although this venture is emotionally taxing, there’s much to gain from it.
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- New Concept 180: What You Should Know Before Starting a Home Addition
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- B & H: Top 10 Items to Consider Before Building a Home Addition
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