Questions to ask Before Putting an Addition on Your Home

Let’s be honest, we all dream of changing up our homes, revamping the space or adding on to expand our living areas. But before you dive headfirst and start your home addition remodel, there are several things to consider. Adding on to your home is a big decision and there are a LOT of questions to ask before you take that firs step. Ask yourself (and your prospective contractor) these very important questions before you bring in the backhoe.

ASK YOURSELF…

If you were to build your house new, how would you design it?
Take a step back and look at your house as a whole. Assess how it serves the needs of you and your family. Imagine you’re starting from scratch to create the ideal home. In terms of structure, what would you add; how would you reconfigure things; what is the home currently lacking? You may have a flurry ideas, but narrow it down to the one project that you would benefit the most from.

What type of home addition would serve your family best?
Get your creative juices flowing and think specifically about what is the best addition for your home. You may envision a new kitchen, master bedroom, master bath, storage room, family room, great room, additional bedrooms, a guest wing or a mudroom. Also consider the option of an unattached home addition such as a pool house, guest house, garage, barn, greenhouse or conservatory.

Have you considered a “green home” addition?
Green homes are becoming standard. Now, more than ever, is the time to opt for greener materials and items when remodeling homes. Everything from energy production to appliances can be made greener. Sustainable materials can reduce operating costs while helping to provide healthier living experiences and helping the environment.

Have you thought about other ways to gain space besides adding a room?
Building a new room isn’t the only way to gain space. Often, a bump-out can provide the space you need at a fraction of the cost of a whole-room addition. A bump-out is a good solution for adding a walk-in closet, installing a tub in a tiny bathroom or gaining elbow room in a cramped kitchen. Cantilever construction hangs the addition from the side of the home, generally without altering the roof or foundation. Also, finishing a basement or building up into the attic (even if that means raising the roof) can be smarter than taking space from your yard.

Where is the ideal location for the addition?
Take a thoughtful tour around the outside perimeter of your home to see where you have room to grow (out or up). How will a new addition flow with the rest of the home and the surrounding yard. Take careful consideration of your neighbors yard. You don’t want to encroach into someone else’s property or personal living space.

Is a home addition feasible?
Before you break ground, check with the zoning laws in your area to find out if you can add on and what restrictions you may have. Restrictions vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Reach out to your city and county offices for a breakdown of rules in your area. The buildable portion of your land generally doesn’t stretch all the way to your lot lines – and for good reason. These “cutoff lines,” which are enforced by your local government, may give you less space for an addition, but they are in place to prevent house fires from spreading and to protect your neighborhood’s aesthetic. There may also be a height limit, which would restrict floor additions.

Is it smarter for you to build up or out?
Building up can save you money because it does not require excavation and foundation work. However, building up may require an architect since it can be more complicated than staying on the ground. If you decide to build out, a detached addition can save you money. Detached additions are often used as garages, guesthouses and home offices. Homeowners report spending an average of $15,000 to $24,658 to have a detached addition built.

What is your budget?
Your budget depends on the type of addition you desire, its size and complexity, and ulitmately…what you can afford. To give you a rough estimate, most homeowners spend between $21,744 and $63,018 on home addition projects.

How much should you expect to spend on your addition? 
Since every house, every site, and every family’s wish list are different, the only way to get a realistic estimate for your particular project is to talk to local contractors. But as a general guideline, expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $200 (and up) per square foot. Keep in mind, increasing the size of your home means increasing your energy bills, especially for heating and cooling. Plus, you can expect your property taxes to climb, since tax assessments are based on the home’s square footage. Add amenities that weren’t there before, like an additional bathroom, a hot tub, or a fireplace, and your assessment will jump even higher.

Will the addition add value to your home? 
Even if you don’t plan on selling your home any time soon, you should consider the resale value of the project. Because they’re among the costliest home projects, additions often return less than remodels. For example: a two-story addition with a family room downstairs and master suite upstairs (65 percent); master-suite-only addition (63 percent); bathroom addition (53 percent); and sunroom addition (49 percent). To maximize your payback, add amenities that are highly sought after in your area. If your neighbors have master suites and you don’t, then that’s a good investment. If nobody else on the block has one, your payback will be small.

What about for refinancing?
Down the road, you might want to refinance or take out a home equity line of credit, for which you’ll want the best possible appraisal of your home. This is another reason to consider the resale value of your project. More often than not, you won’t turn a profit on your investment. So go into the job with realistic expectations about payback.

ASK YOUR CONTRACTOR…

Do you have experience in home additions?
General contractors may work on a range of projects, but an addition is quite different from a remodel. Does the contractor have experience building home additions? How many home additions have they performed in the past year/five years? Do they have a portfolio of their work? Client testimonials? These questions help ensure that you are getting a contractor who understands home additions.

Are you licensed, bonded and insured?
Never assume that a contractor has the proper qualifications to work on your project. Get their license information to ensure they are fully insured, including liability and worker’s compensation.

What is your estimate for the project?
When getting an estimate you want to make sure that the contractor’s estimate fits within your budget and includes all the work that you want performed. Read the fine print. Make sure there are no disclaimers that allow them to crank up additional costs that my come up.

Can you tie the addition into the existing house?
Adding onto a home requires a bit of finesse to make it look like it belongs. The new addition should fit in with the existing space as if it was always a part of the home. Ask about your contractor’s plan to create a harmonious look and feel for the addition, including roofline, windows, utilities, finish materials and overall style. Ask to see a rendering or blueprint of what the final addition will look like with your existing home.

How long will the project take?
Home additions can create inconveniences in your house, so you should have a good idea of how long the project will take to complete. This includes projected start and end date, but also the general schedule for everything in between.

Don’t let all the “what if’s” scare you off of the idea of a home addition. Big projects bring big questions. And as long as you know the right questions to ask, your home addition project can, and will, run smoother!

For more about adding an addition, visit these websites:

Questions to Ask Before Adding On by HGTV

Checklist: Questions to Ask a Home Addition Contractor by HomeAdvisor

7 Things To Ask Yourself Before Adding On To Your House by Across America Patch

10 Things to Ask Your Contractor Before You Start Your Project by Houzz

4 Questions to Consider Before Adding Onto Your Home by U.S. News

Here at Michael Roberts Construction, we make people’s home dreams come true in the Coastal Georgia area. All it takes is a phone call to start the road to a custom home, addition, or remodel. (912) 663-3141

I offer helpful hints, tricks, and other information about the home industry, pictures to provide you with inspiration for your next project, large or small, indoors or out, as well as examples of my work on my Facebook Page, Pinterest and Google Plus!

Michael Roberts artfully combines the latest trends in home construction with classic elements to create an exquisite space for real families to enjoy. Licensed by the State of Georgia as a residential home builder, he thoroughly enjoys every aspect of the home building process. He offers an exemplary hands-on approach to his craft and insists upon working with his customers on a personal level to ensure complete satisfaction. Michael Roberts is a name synonymous with integrity, notable reliability, enthusiastic creativity, and award-winning design in the Coastal Georgia area. With high standards, and a detail oriented approach to home building, Roberts builds functional living spaces that make elegant southern opulence an affordable luxury.

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