Running short on space? Building an addition is one possible alternative to moving to a different home.
Additions can improve the functionality of your home by giving you more space in certain areas. They can also increase the value of your home.
But building an addition to a house is also costly and time-consuming. Knowing what you’re getting into helps you plan your budget and ensure you cover all of the important steps.
Keep reading to understand what goes into a home addition before you start breaking ground.
Set Your Goals
What do you want out of the addition? What are the main problems you’re trying to solve?
More space is an obvious answer, but dig deeper to figure out exactly what you need from the space. Having clear goals is essential for planning the addition and getting what you really want and need.
Additions can provide more bedrooms to accommodate a growing family. Perhaps you want a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor as you get older and have more difficulty getting to the second floor. For some people, it’s about having more storage, more workspace, or improved traffic flow.
Knowing what you want makes it easier for the professionals you hire to help you plan and create an ideal addition.
Research the Restrictions on Building an Addition
Before you get too deep in the planning process, look into possible building codes and restrictions that could impact your plans. Local building codes can limit where and how you can build.
Your local building authority may restrict how close you can build to your property lines, the street, or other structures. Some areas have height restrictions.
Your jurisdiction might require you to have a certain ratio of buildings to land on your property. If you have a small yard, this could limit how large of an addition you can make.
If you live in a historic district, the area may have requirements for preservation. They may not allow you to create an addition or they may require it to look a certain way to maintain the historical integrity of the area.
Homeowners’ associations may have their own restrictions on what you can do. They often put ordinances in place to maintain a certain look in the neighborhood.
Make sure you understand any potential restrictions or rules that might affect your planned addition. If you have questions, contact the building department or your homeowner’s association to clarify.
Set Your Budget
A budget helps you make choices about your addition. This includes everything from the size of the addition to the materials you choose for the finishes.
An addition costs an average of $44,774 with a typical range between $20,981 and $68,592. The cost can be significantly higher if your space is larger, you have obstacles you need to move, or you choose high-end finishes.
Set your maximum budget, and don’t forget to add in a buffer for unexpected expenses. Financing your addition is an option.
You can also complete the work in phases. You might start with the structure and hold off on the interior finishes. This helps spread out the cost over time to make the project more affordable.
Plan the Space
Choosing the location for your addition depends on the current structure of your home and the available space in your yard. You’ll need to know where your property lines are to ensure you meet relevant building codes and keep your addition on your property.
Look for potential obstacles in the areas you’re planning the addition. This might be trees, sheds, utility poles, and other structures.
Some of those obstructions can be moved. Consider the costs and difficulty in moving those structures. Finding a different location for the addition may be more cost-effective.
Consider how the current layout will allow you to enter the new space. Find a location and design that allows traffic flow naturally into that space.
Image how the addition will look from the outside of the house. You want it to look like it belongs, not like an afterthought.
Hire Key Professionals
You’ll need some professional help to get your addition done correctly.
A designer or architect helps you create specific plans for the project. This is the best way to ensure the addition will work well with your existing structure.
A general contractor can coordinate the project for you, including the other contractors who work on the project. Your general contractor can help you choose the electrician, heating and cooling, drywall, and other professionals you need based on your project.
A licensed engineer can help with different parts of the planning process or solving problems that come up during the addition. They can help plan for the structural support, mechanical systems, and other key components for creating a safe addition that meets building codes.
Consider the Implications
The professionals you hire can help you understand the impact of an addition, but it’s a good idea to think about those things ahead of time.
Your existing mechanicals will likely face the biggest impact. Your HVAC system may not be big enough to handle the large space, for example. You might need to update your electrical system to handle the greater demands.
This can factor into your budget if you weren’t planning to make those updates already.
Plan the Timeline
Home additions often take weeks or months to complete. They take longer than a renovation of an existing structure since you’re building from scratch. The average house addition can take 6 to 16 weeks to complete.
Delays in the project can extend that timeline. Many things can draw out the process, including bad weather, changes to plans, back-ordered materials, and unreliable contractors.
Consider how the addition will impact your home during that timeline. If you’re adding onto your existing kitchen, you may not be able to use any part of the kitchen for at least part of the construction process.
You’ll have contractors coming into your home. Noise throughout the day can be distracting. The work can also leave your house and yard messy.
Get the Right Permits
A home addition requires the right type of building permits. Your contractor should handle the permits for you, but it’s a good idea to make sure those permits happen.
Start Your Addition
Building an addition is an exciting way to give your current home a new look and improved functionality. Knowing how to handle the process makes it easier to navigate.
Do you need an engineer for your project? Get started by requesting free proposals for your addition.