How to Plan Your Next Home Addition Project

Home additions are extensive projects with multiple factors to consider. What kind of purpose is this new addition serving? How will this change your home’s current layout? What will it cost to build and maintain? There’s are just a few examples of the many questions you’ll have to ask yourself, which can quickly make what was originally a fun project an overwhelming one. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With effective planning and preparation, you can plan your next home addition with ease.

In this article, we’ll list vital steps and tips that will help any homeowner ensure their next home addition project is successful, budget-friendly, and as stress-free as possible. Remember, the more you plan in the beginning, the better prepared you’ll be throughout this lengthy process, and the fewer issues you’ll have along the way.


Ask Yourself “Why?”

Before we even get into the planning process for the home addition itself, the first thing you need to do as a homeowner is ask yourself seriously and objectively why you want this addition.

Home additions are expensive, with an average cost of $86 to $208 per square foot, for a total average between $22,500 and $74,000. This isn’t a sum most families have lying around or sitting in their savings, so you’ll want to make sure your new home addition is truly necessary or worth it before investing in this hefty financial burden.

Most families and homeowners will fund a home addition project using loans they pay over time, but sometimes they don’t realize they could have spared themselves the debt if they re-evaluated their home and their reasons for getting a home addition.

For example, lack of space is a common reason why homeowners decide to expand and build an addition when, in reality, their home might have plenty of space that is merely cluttered with unnecessary objects or lacks sufficient storage. They might even have a room they could easily repurpose for their needs instead of adding a new space.

Alternatively, you might find that the space you were originally going to create with an addition isn’t the best for your home’s return on investment (ROI), and there’s a better way to hit both birds with one stone. An example Alyson McNutt English uses is instead of creating a new addition as a playroom, create a large master bedroom instead and repurpose the old master bedroom as the new playroom since master bedrooms (especially with nice master bathrooms) have much higher ROI than playrooms.

So, before you get too invested in your home addition project, make sure you truly need a new home addition and consider how you can be crafty with your addition to fill multiple needs at once while increasing your home’s value as much as possible.

Interior of the modern design bedroom 3D rendering 3

Settle on a Purpose

Once you’re certain you want or need a new home addition, it’s time to start visualizing what this addition will be and its ultimate purpose.

Settling on a clear purpose for your home addition will help you have a clear goal and vision for this room, which will, in turn, make the planning process easier. It’s always a good idea to make a list of goals and objectives this room needs to fill and ensure the purpose you’ve chosen matches these.

Once you know what your new home addition will be (ex. sunroom, extra bedroom, kitchen extension, etc.), you can start getting into the more nitty-gritty aspects of planning.

Remember that additions can come in a range of sizes, from an entire second or third floor to a master bedroom to a small bathroom to fill all sorts of needs, so you don’t always have to go big or limit yourself. Let your needs be your guide of what space you need and how extensive it should be.


Create a Realistic Budget

Now comes the part most homeowners dread, crunching the numbers. As we mentioned previously, home additions of any size are pricy projects, and so you’ll want to make sure you’re financially prepared to handle them before getting too deep into the planning process. It’s best to swallow this jagged pill now, in the beginning, than to spend hours of planning and research only to find an addition that isn’t in your best interest financially.

So, before you start designing your new addition and picking out curtains, make a realistic budget of what you think you can afford to pay or borrow for this project and research how much an addition similar to the one you’re envisioning costs.

You won’t be able to crunch all of the numbers of your addition’s overall cost yet, as you haven’t started designing the space or thinking about the materials, features, and other elements you’ll have to purchase. However, you can look up the average cost of a master suite or outdoor patio, for example, to get a general idea of what you might need.

When creating your budget, try to have a decent amount of cushion between what the project will likely cost and what you’re willing to spend, so you have some extra funds in the event of issues (which almost always inevitably happen). You will feel much more at ease going into the project knowing you have more funds available than you intend to spend than hoping you stay on budget the entire time.

Not only will having a clear budget help you better decide what you can and can’t afford for the space, but it will help your contractor (who we’ll discuss later) have a better idea of what your project will entail.

Knowing your budget is also important as it will impact your ability to acquire certain loans. The more money you need, the higher your credit score will have to be and the better you’ll need to look financially on paper, so make sure, in addition to having a realistic figure, that you can realistically acquire that amount from a bank or other lender.


Brush Up on Your Zoning Regulations

Zoning regulations will likely be uncharted territory for most homeowners, but this is a step you absolutely should not skip, as it could actually make or break your home addition project.

Zoning laws essentially dictate how a geographic area and any property built there can be developed. While there are a number of zoning laws that are consistent throughout various regions, some are unique to a particular zone, so it is always important to know the zoning laws for the land your home is built on.

You don’t want to get too far into planning your addition without knowing if you can legally install/build one and which direction it has to go (zoning laws will likely only allow you to build up or out).

If you decide to start building your home addition without checking the zoning laws for this property or land, you might find yourself with a hefty fine and a government official telling you your addition needs to come down.

This usually occurs if the addition interferes with one, or several, of the following laws, regulations, or restrictions:

  • height restrictions
  • building area ratios
  • exceeding property lines
  • design covenants
  • Interference with utility lines
  • historic-district preservation ordinance

Of course, there are several other zoning laws that might pose a problem to your project as well. The best way to avoid all of this unpleasantness is to consult with your local zoning department and city hall. They should be able to tell you what you can legally create and what to look out for.

beautiful guest house

Create a Wants and Needs List

Hopefully, by this point, you have your budget relatively in place, and you have the green light to create your home’s new addition. The next step is to get a little more in-depth planning and prioritize what will go into this addition.

You’ll likely have done some of this planning earlier in your “settle on a purpose” step, but here, you’re going to be much more specific with what features, materials, and other design elements “have” to be in your addition, and what things you’ll “want” in the addition.

To do this, think back on that clear objective(s) or goal(s) you settled on for this addition, and then, with this in mind, list things that are absolutely necessary and non-negotiable in the addition (ex. a toilet in your new bathroom is essential). The key is to be as objective as possible with this list, as it can get clouded very easily with things that aren’t actually essential.

Once you’ve made a list of the non-negotiable elements, you can move on to listing things that would be nice, but you’re willing to compromise on and things you want to prioritize as a luxury splurge for yourself and others.

Additions are supposed to be fun projects that help give you something you’ve been dearly missing in your home, so it’s okay to have a few luxuries wants; remember, you probably won’t get everything you want, especially when issues arise and sacrifices have to be made. That’s why it’s important to have this list prepared that clearly shows you what elements are vital and which can be left out if necessary.


Get A Contractor Involved

We see all you DIYers out there, and we respect you, but this isn’t the time to embark on a project all by yourself. Additions are extensive projects that require a vast number of skills, resources, and tools to complete successfully and promptly. Moreover, individuals typically have to be licensed or hold special permits to build additions, so if you don’t have one of these, you can’t legally create this home extension.

Save yourself the stress and effort of building an addition yourself by hiring a contractor you trust. Personally, we recommend hiring a local contractor, as they are much easier to work with thanks to their proximity, and they’re more likely to be legitimate, licensed teams rather than scams trying to build in distant zones.

A contractor will make a world of difference in the construction of your home addition. Choosing the right one will feel like an immense weight has been lifted off your shoulder because they will help you every step of the way, from planning to purchasing to building and beyond. They’ll make sure your addition follows all regulations and will be prepared to answer any questions you have about the build.

Having one of these experts by your side is the best way to get a stunning addition quickly, but there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind. Firstly, make sure you hire a renowned contractor with all of the necessary credentials (license, insurance) who has experience with your type of addition and treats you well as a customer.

After you’ve found the perfect match, make sure you have a legal contract that both parties willingly sign and details everything about the addition’s build, such as what is expected from you as a client as well as from the contractor’s team for this build (ex. timeline, payment schedule, addition design, etc.) This is for the protection of all parties involved.


Start Designing Your Addition

Now the fun part begins! While it never hurts to have some design details in place for your contractor before hiring, there are some things you probably can’t decide on until you have them by your side to answer all of your questions. Now that you have them, you can start really getting into you’re your new addition will look like.

Essential design elements to consider for your new addition include:

  • Materials
  • Color schemes
  • Measurements and floor plans
  • Placement of essentials (ex. walls, plumbing, electricity)
  • Features to be installed (ex. appliances, lighting, etc.)
  • Furniture location
  • Systems to install (ex. HVAC)

These are just a few of the things you’ll have to consider when designing your new addition, and, as you can see, it goes far beyond what color you’re going to paint the walls. You’ll need to consider elements of the room you probably never thought about before.

Remember to consider how this will affect your home’s layout as well, as the new addition might affect the flow from one room to another or an entire floor. Make sure when you create this design that you visualize yourself from every corner of the addition and any adjacent rooms. You’ll also want vision boards, 3-D layouts, and blueprints created so there is a clear visual of want you want for you as well as your contractor and their team.


Keep Track of Budget and Logistics Throughout the Build

After you’ve hired a contractor you trust and hone out all the details of your addition’s design, most of the work now falls to your contractor to complete. They’ll certainly ask you questions about what you want along the way and keep you posted on how the build is going, but otherwise, the best thing to do during this time is to refrain from micromanaging your contractor and instead focus on keeping track of your budget and other logistics.

It’s easy to get carried away when planning a new home addition, and it isn’t uncommon for issues to arise. So, as the project progresses, you’ll want to keep comparing the cost of the build with your budget and make any necessary adjustments. This might mean eliminating features or swapping materials to make the build cheaper, or adding luxuries you realize you can now afford.

In addition to watching your budget, you’ll also want to take care of any additional logistics, such as packing up spaces or finding accommodations elsewhere if your addition prevents you from staying at your home or might affect other rooms in your house.

Have the date of your addition build set, and make sure you’re prepared for what this project entails throughout the timeline your contractor provided. Thanks to your extensive planning and maybe a little luck, you should have a beautiful addition that fulfills all your needs and desires in no time.

Spaces Home Remodeling is a home addition contractor in San Mateo, we specialize in custom home addition projects that are modern and beautiful.  Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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