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5 Things to Consider When Planning a Home Addition

Sawing materials for a home addition in-progress

If your homestead is feeling increasingly cramped cozy as the months go by, and you’ve begun to feel a distinct need for more elbow room, you have some options you’ll need to think through. Decluttering, redecorating, and remodeling are all potentially great ways to make the same space feel bigger, or you could always try your luck on the market and try to buy a bigger home somewhere nearby.

Or, if you aren’t ready to pull up your stakes and depart the family castle, you may just want to consider the potential benefits of a home addition.

But adding on to an existing house is a big project with a lot of different elements to consider.

1. Consider Your Goal

If you and your spouse or partner aren’t on the same page and don’t have a clear vision for what you are aiming to achieve in your addition, it’s going to cause a lot of friction as you move through the project.

So, before you dig into the WHAT or HOW of your addition, sit down and define the WHY behind it and what benefits this project will provide in your real, day-to-day life.

There are plenty of potential benefits to choose from too, from increasing your home’s square footage so you and any children have more space to live, to boosting your home value and attractiveness for potential sellers.

This exercise helps lay out the reasoning and direction for the rest of the project and should steer every element of the work, from the size of the addition to the décor, schedule, layout, and more.

2. Check Your Zoning

When it comes to adding on to a home, you have two directions to choose from: OUT and UP.

In other words, you can add on to a room on one or more sides of your home, pushing your home outwards, or you can build upwards and add a second story, if your home structure allows.  

In both cases, it’s important to make sure that what you envision is permitted by any and all applicable zoning laws and building codes in your local area. These rules can impact how close your home is allowed to encroach on different property lines (typically 20 feet on the front, 5-10 feet on both sides, and about 15 feet on the back, though this can vary greatly) and whether or not you are able to add a second story and increase the overall height of your home.

You may also run into problems with underground utility lines, depending on your property.

The only way to really understand what your options are and avoid any potential fines is to check in with your local zoning department. And if your plan isn’t permitted by your local rules, you may be able to get a variance (exception) for your project, if you can convince your local authorities. But variances are uncommon and the process for getting one can be lengthy and uncertain.

3. Decide On Your Budget

Here’s the big question: what’s all this going to cost?

Unfortunately, estimating the final cost of home addition, or any building project, is going to be a challenge without the help of someone who does this for a living. Just consider that second story additions can run between 100K and 500K (or more!) while simple sunroom additions often cost only a tenth as much.

While you can and should do your own research and check what similar projects in your area went for, ultimately you’re going to need to connect with local contractors (like Amber Valley Construction!) who can give you an estimate that takes into account your local area, the size of your proposed project, your requested design, labor, materials, and overall feasibility.

And keep in mind that your project may involve certain hidden costs as well, including increases in your property taxes, permit costs, increased heating or cooling costs, and others.

4. Decide Who’s Going To Do The Work

Working with the right or wrong contractor can absolutely make or break a project, and save or cost you a lot of stress as well.

So be prepared to reach out to your local contractors to discuss your project, timeline, and the potential cost of the project. And be prepared to spend some time comparing and checking different companies’ reviews and references, making sure that they know what they’re doing and that they’re the right crew for your home.

What, specifically, should you be watching out for during this process?

  • Craftsmanship – have they cut corners, or do they do job the right?
  • Communication – will you be in the dark, or will you feel connected and in control throughout the process?
  • Follow-through – do they meet their deadlines and schedules, within reason?
  • Design – do they work with an architect, or are they a design-build contractor which handles the design work in-house (either is fine)?
  • Licensure – legitimate contractors should always be fully licensed, insured, and bonded

5. Decide When And How Your Addition Will Happen

You and your contractor will need to work together to schedule a start date for your remodel, and then you’ll need to decide how you and your family will handle the weeks that follow.

Many, many homeowners decide that the noise, dust, and overall disruption that comes with an addition just isn’t worth the stress. Especially when the area being worked on intersects with the kitchen or main living spaces, or impacts your plumbing and electricity for extended period of time.

Some choose to head out on vacation for at least a portion of the project, while others opt to stay with friends or relatives or check-in to a hotel until construction is completed.

If you do decide to stay while construction is occurring, be sure to arrange contingencies so you can live without the impacted areas as comfortably as possible. You’ll also want to set clear start and stop times during the day, so you know what to expect and when to expected it. And you should be prepared for stress levels to run higher than normal until your house is finally put back together.

Call Amber Valley Construction Today

At Amber Valley Construction, we’re proud to be a family-owned, local West Michigan business with a commitment to excellent craftsmanship and outstanding customer service.

If you’re ready to remodel your home or add a new addition, call us or request a quote today! We can take care of the entire process, from design, to demolition, to construction, finishing, and final project wrap-up. All so you can have a home that works harder, looks better, and inspires you and your family for years to come.

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