Building an Addition
Prior to picking up a hammer, evaluate the reasons behind wanting to add-on to your home. Knowing why you want to do it and what you hope to achieve can help determine whether expanding out or buying something bigger is the optimal decision. There are several advantages to building an addition which include providing increased living space, increasing home value, remaining in a desired neighborhood, and providing an open canvas to build a dream addition. But the biggest advantage is saving money. Creating an addition is considerably less expensive than
selling and buying a new home. After totaling the costs incurred with selling fees, closing fees, moving expenses, disconnecting and reconnecting utilities, etc., the cost of an addition is significantly less than moving and buying new.
Despite these advantages, there are some disadvantages as well. Building an addition shrinks the size of the yard, disrupts family life during construction, and increases expenses. The larger area increases property taxes, maintenance costs of heating and air conditioning, as well as overall upkeep. Knowing this upfront helps to eliminate monetary surprises which diminish the value of the addition.
Before beginning any addition, consider the following to get the most out of the project and eliminate any undesired surprises.
Make a Plan
Determine upfront exactly what you hope to gain with the new addition. What type of room do you want to add? How much square footage will be added? Outline where the window, doors, closets, or appliances will be located. Once a plan is determined, review the size of the addition in comparison to the neighborhood. Make sure the increase in square footage is within the guidelines of the area. Overbuilding for the market will not produce a valuable return.
With the plan set, determine how it will be paid for. Unless you have the cash or savings in place, a home equity or construction loan is required. Consult the Budget and Financing section of this guide for information and guidance on how to obtain the right loan for you.
To optimize the value of the project, consult an architect or contractors to help create the final plans. These professionals can help ensure that the design and aesthetics of the addition match the existing home, neighborhood, and building code requirements. They can help to avoid the pitfalls of creating an addition that is too large or too small, which could be an eyesore. Proper attention should be given to ensure rooflines, elevations, and wall structures match up to create a seamless exterior appearance.
If you decide to create the addition on your own, you should purchase a good home design software package. This helps create 3D renderings of the addition and the necessary plans for permits and inspections.
Know the legal limitations of the addition and what permits are required. Prior to starting, permission needs to be obtained from the local authorities. This requires submitting a copy of your plans for approval. If you hire an architect or general contractor, they can submit them for you. If you are handling the addition yourself, make sure the proper permits and approvals are obtained. In most states, formal blueprints or similar layout plans are required. Consult the Planning and Permit topic within this section for additional information and guidance on obtaining the proper approvals.
Set a Schedule
A home addition disrupts family life. Sit down with the family and discuss the timeline and expected noise, dust, and traffic that will take place at the home. Depending on the type of addition, eliminating access to certain rooms of the house can be a serious inconvenience. Work out an alternative plan and set expectations upfront to cut down on the amount of stress and disruption.
Determine upfront the amount of sweat equity you can dedicate to the project. This provides significant savings for a strong do-it-yourselfer. However, make sure you have the necessary time and motivation required for this type of project. Opting to handle some elements of the project yourself can slow down the schedule if your skills are limited or you are unfamiliar with building code. Having to re-do portions of the project not only pushes out the completion date but can potentially double the size of the budget. Choose projects that accurately fit your skill set to ensure that no time is lost and that the maximum budget limit is maintained.
Trucks, dumpsters and other construction requirements take a toll on the landscaping. For trees, shrubs or flowers you might want to save them by moving to an alternate location prior to beginning the project. Pouring additional foundation takes out a considerable size of the yard and changes the overall landscape appearance. Determine upfront what is the most important to save.
Building Up or Out
The choice to build up or out depends on the existing structure of the home and your personal preference. Some homeowners may shy away from second-story additions as they require additional money for structural reinforcements, especially when building an extra bathroom. One-story additions require foundational support but can create extra value to the home especially for future buyers who may not like homes with stairs.
In addition to considering the exterior flow of the addition, also consider the internal flow. Ensure the traffic flow and style fits within the interior of the home. While a new addition provides an open canvas in terms of design, maximize the look of the addition while creating a natural blend with the rest of the house. This ensures its elegance while not appearing entirely separate from the rest of the home.
Once the addition is completed, a final professional inspection is required. In addition to this inspection, conduct one on your own. Make sure to fully inspect the inside and outside of the home to ensure that the quality and finishes are what you discussed with the contractor. Ask for any missed items to be completed or for anything not meeting your expectations to be redone. It takes time for the addition to settle and along the way you may find some cracking or additional fixes. Call the contractor again if this should occur. They should be willing to come out and do the repairs without an extra charge.
Popular Home Additions
When looking for additional breathing room, some rooms can create a larger bang for the buck or provide much needed space for certain family members.
Bathroom: Bathrooms are the most sought after room in the house and can often create discord and frustration if there are not enough for the size of the family. Adding another bathroom, especially in homes with less than two, provides the best equity value and peace for larger families.
Family Room: Creating a large gathering room for entertainment and games is a modern and popular choice. These rooms provide a necessary space that can grow with the needs of the family. For younger families it can be a playroom and can grow into a theater or entertainment room as the children age. After they leave home, it can then be transformed into a den or home office.
Sunroom or Porch: Especially in the South, the addition of a sunroom or porch is very popular. Exposing the house to large amounts of natural light and warmth provides a comfortable space for all to enjoy.
Home Office: As more people are working out of their home or opting to get more work done at home, this provides a great convenience.
Mother-In-Law Suite: To accommodate the need to care for aging parents, many are opting to build mother-in-law suites. This extra space traditionally includes a bedroom, bathroom, sitting area and kitchenette.