What to Consider When Adding on to Your Home
As you can imagine, extending the footprint of your existing home is no easy feat. Room additions are big jobs and require you to carefully consider all the ramifications of a complex remodeling project.
However, increasing your home’s available living space can be a wonderful investment – both from a financial and enjoyment standpoint. And, in most cases, adding space beats the cost of buying a new home. With interest rates remaining at historically low levels, home remodeling becomes a more affordable option for many homeowners.
Plus, remodeling to create more space can be an exciting project. Whether you’re adding a family room, master retreat, extra bedroom, media room, expanded kitchen or new bathroom, you’ll be able to make your home exactly as you want it.
Before embarking on building a home addition, you should first consider all that’s involved in a project of this scope. Here’s a list of 10 critical things you need to consider when adding to your home:
- Develop a comprehensive plan and budget – The first step in the remodeling process for a home addition is to decide why you want more space. Are you making room for an expanding family? Do you want to increase your home’s value? Or do you want to increase the enjoyment of your home?
When you consider why you’re remodeling, you create a starting point for the planning process. You want to make sure your reasons for remodeling make good sense and can justify a significant investment.
Also, look carefully at market values in your neighborhood. For example, you may want to add a huge master suite that will cost upwards of $50,000. But, after making that investment, how much will your home be worth? In some cases, current market values may cause you to recoup less than the cost of the room addition.
- Figure out how you’ll fund your project – Once you have your plan underway, you need to think about financing the addition. Does it make sense to use your savings when interest rates are still low? If you seek financing, will a home equity loan or mortgage refinancing fit your situation best?
Some experts believe that if current mortgage rates are lower than your existing mortgage, you may want to consider refinancing your entire home, with the cost of the addition included in the new loan. However, if your existing mortgage rate is lower than current market rates, you may want to look into a home equity loan.
Each homeowner’s situation is different. So, what may be right for you may not be the best option for someone else. It’s a good idea to talk with your financial advisor before deciding how to finance your project.
- Determine the size and scope of your addition – Going back to the reasons why you’re creating an addition and the primary function of the new space, you need to determine some specific details. For example, what will be the square footage of the addition? How many new rooms will be created? How will you ensure the added space blends with your original structure?
Once you figure out some of the specifics, you need to review current building codes for your jurisdiction. Your home may be older and may not meet existing requirements. Your project may need to conform to the latest Residential and International Building Codes, National Electrical Code, Uniform Plumbing Code, International Energy Conservation Code , SEER ratings of Mechanical and Plumbing Equipment, specific local building codes, HOA regulations, and more.
One last thing to keep in mind regarding the scope of your addition: don’t get carried away. Making your home bigger can be exciting. But, you don’t want to make an investment in a larger than needed space. Or, add new living space that’s too big for your neighborhood, lot and existing structure. If you do, you may never earn a return on your investment.
- Select the location – Most homeowners start the addition remodeling process by thinking about the new space in relation to the home’s interior. How does the location add convenience, improve flow, enhance enjoyment, and so on.
Although these considerations are important, they can’t be all you think about when determining location. You need to step outside (literally) and evaluate your lot:
- Is the shape of your lot conducive to an addition?
- How much outdoor space will you have to give up accommodating the new addition?
- What about your landscaping? Will you have to remove elements you like, such as large trees, to make room for the addition?
- Will you have any privacy issues? A new master suite that’s located within proximity of a neighbor’s window can impact your privacy.
- Do you have views you want to capitalize on?
- Will the new addition require outdoor access? If so, what part of your yard will be adjacent to the addition’s door?
- If you’re building onto a second floor, can your existing structure handle the new addition? Or, will you need to upgrade it to meet current building codes?
- How close will you be to lot boundaries or utility easements?
- What about the elements? If you’re in Arizona and your new addition faces west, you need to think about how comfortable the room will be during the hot summer months.
- Will you have any flooding or drainage issues? Your remodeling contractor and local building department can help you determine whether you’ll have to make special accommodations.
- Are your neighbors likely to object to your new space? Does your addition encroach on them in any way, like obstructing their views? Although you may be within your legal rights to construct an addition, you may be in for some nasty neighbor relations that could detract from the future enjoyment of your property.
- Analyze heating and cooling requirements – Whenever you add-on to your existing home, you need to consider whether your existing heating and cooling systems are sufficient. Your home may stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter now. But, with more space, your systems may be stressed beyond their capability.
One of the most disappointing factors in undertaking a room addition is realizing you need to upgrade your HVAC equipment. That’s a pretty hefty expense you may not have figured into your budget. And most people don’t want to add window air conditioners or space heaters in their beautiful new room!
Your remodeling contractor will inspect your current equipment to see if it can accommodate the addition. They’ll also check your vents and ductwork to determine how best to integrate the new space.
- Evaluate electrical and plumbing requirements – Just as with your heating and cooling equipment, you need to thoroughly analyze your existing electrical and plumbing systems. Can your existing capacity handle the room addition? If not, you’re looking at added costs for your project.
Your remodeling contractor will examine the capacity of the electrical service and panel currently installed. One rule of thumb is a panel at more than 70% capacity won’t be able to handle the additional electrical load and will require upgrading.
Another consideration is your water pressure. When adding new space requiring water, like a bathroom, laundry or kitchen, will you have sufficient pressure? Will your water heater be able to keep up? If you use natural gas, do you have the required BTUs?
- Decide on design elements and amenities – Designing your new space is the fun part for most homeowners. You get to decide on themes, pick colors and styles and add the amenities that will make your new space special. However, you need to keep one important caveat in mind: Always maintain your home’s original exterior aesthetics. Nothing is worse than added space that sticks out like a sore thumb and screams “new addition”!
To maintain consistency, carefully consider exterior elements like siding, doors, windows, rooflines and elevations. It’s best to work with professional designers when adding to your home. They’ll have access to sophisticated software and provide the necessary design expertise not just for your interior, but exterior elements.
- Select a proven remodeling company – The most important step in your room addition project is hiring the right contractor. After you’ve considered the previous steps, you need to bring a proven professional on board. You specifically want a remodeling company with ample experience in building room additions similar to the project you want to undertake.
To develop your short list of remodeling contractors, get referrals. Also, do your research online to gather as much information as possible. Once you narrow your list of options down to three or four qualified contractors, you can begin the interview process.
Be prepared with your questions prior to your interviews. Make sure you compare apples-to-apples when evaluating contractors. And, let your gut play a role. A contractor’s team will be in your life for a long time. So, make sure you feel good about the relationship.
- Establish the final budget and schedule – Once you hire a contractor, you can really get the project underway. During the selection project, you’ll have received bids and estimated schedules. Now it’s time to finalize your design and budget, get your permits and develop a final schedule.
A realistic timetable and budget will also need to allow for contingencies. Many projects run into the unexpected. Weather may be an issue and cause delays or you may uncover something that needs to be fixed.
- Prepare for inconvenience during the construction phase – Most homeowners underestimate the disruption a large remodeling project can create. Be honest with yourself and determine how much inconvenience you and your family are willing to endure. A room addition is a complex project that will take a fairly long time to complete.
If your family will have difficulty living with the dust, noise, lack of privacy from strangers in your home and overall commotion, you should consider making other arrangements. Can you live somewhere else while construction is underway? Is there another area of the home you can live in that will separate you from the construction?
If you’re adding space to your kitchen, you especially need to think about alternatives. How will you prepare and eat meals? With some planning and honest communication with your remodeling contractor, you can develop a good system to lessen the negative impacts of a major construction project in your home.
Although a room addition is a major project, you certainly should not shy away from extending your home’s livable space. The above steps can help your prepare for your project so you minimize or eliminate any negative consequences. Being well organized and partnering with an experienced remodeling contractor will ensure building new space will be a positive and worthwhile experience.
Working with a Remodeling Contractor
To ensure your home addition project delivers everything you expected, take extra care in selecting your remodeling contractor. You want a proven professional who can complete work promptly, manage costs effectively and solve any problems that may surface during your project.
Republic West Remodeling makes the home addition remodeling process as painless as possible. With over 18 years in business, we’ve learned a thing to two about how to efficiently complete projects to every customer’s expectation. And our testimonials, references and track record back this up.
We’ve also developed the Dream Assurance Plan™, a custom remodeling process that strives to deliver a pleasant experience and a successful outcome for our customers. We’re determined to transform the expectations that every remodeling project will be a nightmare.
The Dream Assurance Plan includes three concepts:
- Design & Visualization
- Cost Certainty
- Time Certainty
Republic West Remodeling assures your custom remodeling project will be as you visualized throughout the entire process – from creative design to detailed planning to execution and construction.
For more information on home additions, or to request a free, no obligation, design consultation, visit http://www.republicwestremodeling.com/remodeling-and-construction.php or call (480) 478-8700.