There are many reasons you may decide to invest in a home addition. Your family may have outgrown your current living quarters, or you might want to create a larger space for entertaining. Some people also desire increased storage or a dedicated hobby room where they can sew, paint, or play an instrument.
Whatever your reason may be, it’s important to have a clear strategy in place before you start on your project. Here’s where to begin when planning your home addition.
Step 1: Set Your Budget
Renovating your home can be quite costly, and you may need to seek financing to swing the upfront expense. To make sure you don’t dig yourself into a financial hole, set your budget in advance. The average cost for a home addition is anywhere between $90 and $210 per square foot. However, the price can vary significantly based on the type of addition you’re envisioning. Take some time to figure out how much your planned renovations will likely cost, then budget accordingly.
For example, if you’re adding on a bathroom, you’ll need to factor in the cost of plumbing and fixtures. If you’re adding a family room, you’ll need more square footage than you’d require for a bathroom. The cost of your remodel also depends on whether you’re expanding your single-level home or creating an additional story. In the latter scenario, your final cost could be in the six figures, depending on the size of the project.
In addition to anticipated costs like construction materials and labor, you need to take less obvious expenses into account. Examples include increased insurance costs for the added square footage and boarding costs for your pets. You may need the latter if your furry family members don’t handle the stress of construction noise well. You may also need to upgrade your heat pump system if your home addition is sizable.
Step 2: Get Necessary Permits
If you have the skills required to work on your own home addition, you can save money by doing so. But you’ll need to get the appropriate permits first. At a minimum, you’ll need to obtain a building permit. Check city and state regulations to learn more about building codes in your area.
In addition to getting the proper permits, you’ll also need to check local zoning laws. Some cities place a limit on the amount of square footage you can have on one lot. Local zoning laws may also impact the type of expansion you’re allowed to do. Depending on the city you live in, you may also need to buy a zoning license before beginning your project.
All of these steps can be overwhelming for the average homeowner. If you make a mistake and don’t obtain the right permits, you could end up facing costly repercussions. City officials might shut down your project or make you tear down what you’ve already constructed. To minimize your risk, you may prefer to hire a contractor instead of going the DIY route.
Step 3: Hire a Contractor
As noted, handling your home remodel on your own can be tempting if you’re trying to pinch pennies. But with so much money on the line, you may want to reconsider. Unless you have experience working on projects of this scope, it’s wise to hire a skilled contractor. This step of the planning process is vitally important and deserves your time to get it right.
When shopping around for a contractor, look for someone with extensive experience. They should be licensed, insured, and familiar with building permit regulations in your area. Don’t forget to request competitive bids from multiple contractors. That way, you can make sure you’re getting a fair price for the work involved.
Before signing a contract with any contractor, you’ll also need to determine their availability. Some contractors are busier than others, and you should know upfront whether you’ll be kept waiting for months. It’s a good idea to meet with several contractors in person and find out when they can begin your project. If you want your home addition completed by a certain date, don’t choose someone who’s unable to meet your goal.
Step 4: Sign a Contract
Once you’ve found the right contractor for the job, it’s time to negotiate ground rules and sign a contract. This is not a process to be taken lightly. Your contract will help prevent miscommunication down the line. It will also protect you if your contractor fails to complete the project as expected. Additionally, some states require a contract by law for home improvement projects over a certain dollar amount.
There are several ways to create a contract. You can have an attorney draft one for you, use an online template, or fill out a paper version from an office supply store. You can also use the contract provided by the contractor. Review the contract details carefully to make sure they are fair and accurate. It’s wise to have a lawyer review any contract you’re considering signing.
Your contract should include a detailed description of the work to be completed. It should also outline the expected timeline, payment schedule, and permits the contractor must obtain. It’s wise to include a formal process for resolving disagreements or problems. You should also include a termination clause that offers protection for both parties. Once you and your contractor agree on the terms, sign the contract so work can begin.
Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail
Adding on to your home can feel like an overwhelming process. The key is to take it one step at a time, beginning with the most basic planning stages. Follow the steps outlined here to help your home addition project go as smoothly as possible.