Home Additions

by J on November 7, 2009

In a previous blog we looked at repurposing already existing space in your home for a bedroom/office. It may be that your home just does not have enough space for you to repurpose. If you and your family are constantly tripping over each other, you basically have two options:  sell your home or put on a home addition.

If you love your current home and neighborhood and just aren’t interested in selling, a home addition may be the answer to your space problems. Realize that putting on an addition is an involved undertaking. Gone are the days when you and Uncle Joe could break out the hammer and saws and work away. Permits, zoning and neighborhood covenants all have to be taken into consideration before you ever pound a nail—unless you want to be served with a cease and desist or deconstruct order from your town or city.

First of all, you need to contact your municipalities with your intent to add on to your house. They will be able to tell you what federal, state and local building codes you need to follow during your construction project and issue the appropriate permits. More specifically, you will need to check the zoning to make sure your addition will meet the setback requirements (has to do with distances between the street, your structure and side lines of the lot, including driveways and parking). If it does, you would then apply for a building permit.

Once that is issued you are ready to go as far as the city is concerned. However, if you moved into a neighborhood and are obligated to follow a covenant, you also need to adhere to the covenant’s stipulations. The city is not concerned about covenants and will not cause you a problem with them, but the homeowner’s association can tie you up in a civil suit if you don’t follow the covenant. It is best to work with a professional home remodeling company. They will be knowledgeable about the legal ramifications and able to handle this headache for you.

Once you’ve made the decision to add on to your house, spend some planning time looking at magazines for ideas. Decide what the space will be used for and what the most efficient layout of that space would be. A word of caution:  moderation is called for. You do not want to overdo the remodel, putting so much money into it that you will never be able to recoup it should you decide to sell in the future. Take into account the value of your house now and your neighborhood and plan an addition accordingly.

After you have an idea on the layout, begin to price the furniture and appliances you will need. Take a notebook and stroll through several stores to get an idea of what you like and the prices. Write them down because it’s hard to keep one stove or sink straight from another. This will help you to start to formulate a budget. A basic rule of thumb is to allow for $200 per square foot of addition. There are several free online building cost estimators that will help you plan your project. But, realize to get an accurate estimate for your home remodel, you will need to work with your expert.

Speaking of experts, be sure to hire a reputable company. Ask friends and neighbors and look for companies that are established who will still be here six months from now. Be prepared for any inconveniences the remodeling may cause you and plan accordingly. For example, if a kitchen remodel is part of your addition, how will you cook and eat in the meantime?

A little planning and foresight will go a long way toward making your home addition as painless and enjoyable as possible.

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