The kids keep getting older (and bigger) and yet your house seems to always be shrinking.
You want to work at home, but there’s no place to get enough privacy.
You love to entertain, but your house just isn’t laid out for it.
You’ve decided to welcome an elderly parent to live with you, but all the bedrooms are upstairs … and occupied.
These are just some of the realities of modern life that move some of our clients to consider and eventually add space to their homes. Whether you are considering an expansion in the future or are ready to begin, consider these preliminary planning steps:
What do you need? A room addition is a big remodeling project, so it should have a purpose that truly solves a need that no other remodeling option can address. Figuring out that need will go a long way toward determining the size, location, and overall scope of the addition.
For instance, the need for a home office — driven by a telecommuting or self-employment opportunity — generally means a smaller addition in an out-of-the-way location for privacy.
A family entertainment area, by contrast, will likely be a large, open space that will be easily accessible from the other main living areas of the house. A kitchen may become much more useful by adding a conveniently located half-bath or creating an access to the outdoors.
What do you like? We recommend that our clients take time to create a “catalog” of photos and articles from magazines and websites that illustrate their tastes. For a professional remodeler, this is a valuable tool to creating and delivering a truly successful and satisfying addition.
Assess your neighborhood. Maintaining architectural integrity and maximizing the return on your investment are two considerations when planning your room addition. Ideally, the project should bring your current house up to, or maybe just beyond, the value and features of your immediate neighborhood. Take a two-block tour of the homes around your house to get a sense of the standard in terms of size and assumed interior spaces; if it looks like someone has added on recently, ask them a few questions about that experience.
It’s also important to get educated about any codes, covenants, and restrictions (CC&Rs) imposed by your neighborhood or homeowner’s association, if one exists. CC&Rs usually regulate allowable setbacks (the distance between homes and the street), building height, style, and color. They can limit the proportion of built structures to total lot size, define allowable landscape features and detail acceptable changes. CC&R rules may even trump codes enforced by the city.
Stay in character. As a professional remodeling contractor, our goal is to make room additions a seamless part of your existing house, as if the new section was there all along. For any addition, we look for ways to extend or match your home’s original roof forms, exterior materials and features (such as siding, windows, and trim accents), and proportion.
Money matters. Before you contact a remodeling contractor, decide how much you can afford for a room addition and where you’ll get the money to build it.
We typically advise our clients to determine and express a budget in monthly terms, like a mortgage or car payment, to get the clearest idea of how it will impact their daily lives and overall, on-going expenses.
Figuring out a budget may also include financing, either from savings, a loan, a gift, or some other source. Once you have confidence that you can afford and fund a room addition, share your budget with your chosen contractor to make sure the project is designed and built within that dollar amount.