Planning a home extension can be a fulfilling project. The extension can provide the extra space needed in a home due to a growing family or in response to a lifestyle change, while avoiding the upheaval of a move.
But home ideas represent a significant investment, so it’s important to plan carefully and be aware of how long it might take and what professionals to work with.
Here we examine the steps of a successful project and the options available with the guidance of the experts.
Planning a home extension
Careful consideration of all aspects of a remodeling or construction project before it begins can save money and time, and ensure it meets expectations – and planning a home extension, whether it’s a solid structure, a conservatory or a sunroom, is no exception. These are the factors to examine.
Where do I start when adding an extension to my home?
Start the process of planning a new home by asking yourself a few questions, recommends Bailey Carson, home health care professional at Angi:
- What problem do I want to solve?
- How do you want the space to look and feel?
- What is my budget?
- What is my schedule and project scope?
- Who am I willing to work with to complete the project?
- What permits do I need?
- Where do I stay while I work?
What types of housing additions are possible?
A variety of options may be available when planning a home extension, including side or rear extensions, cantilevered additions, a new level, a basement, and a sun room or porch.
What is preferable depends on where in the house you need the extra space and how much more square footage is needed. What you can achieve also depends on what is allowed where you live.
If just a little extra space is needed, you might consider adding a sunroom or porch, both of which are more cost-effective options.
To extend existing spaces or add new ones, consider adding a side or rear extension, which could be significant. “This is an addition to your home that extends the front, back, or both sides of your home,” says Bailey Carson.
A cantilever addition, on the other hand, is a self-supporting structure with a floating appearance. “This is a popular choice for adding modern bedrooms to the home,” explains Bailey.
If a significant increase in square footage of your home is required, a new level could be added to create a second or third story. “This is a great project if you need lots of new space to accommodate more family members,” suggests Bailey. “This is also a good option if your lot size doesn’t allow enough space to expand your home.” Keep in mind that such an addition requires a large budget.
Other options could be adding a basement or finishing a basement or finishing an attic. “Adding a basement where one doesn’t already is an expensive project, and you need to check local permits to make sure it’s allowed in your area,” says Bailey. “If you already have an unfinished basement or attic, you might consider converting it into a more structured living space.”
Collect expenses for a house addition
When you have carefully considered why the extension is necessary, but also the cost of the extension and the budget available for the project, and also the details of the realization, it is time to talk to professionals.
You may want to start by consulting with architects or directly with contractors. “Architects can help you envision your new addition, create floor plans, and ensure your addition is viable and safe. However, for minor or simpler additions, contractors are often sufficient,” explains Bailey Carson.
Remember that contractors need complete construction records in order to provide an accurate quote. So if you talk to them first, you can find out if your budget is likely to cover the type of expansion you have in mind.
“I recommend reaching out to a few full-service builders and remodelers for a consultation first,” said Gregg Cantor, president and CEO of Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel. “Once you know the size and location of the grow, a phone or virtual consultation can suffice for a single story. For sloping lots, second floors, or more complex projects, I recommend meeting at your home. There should be no cost for the initial consultation.
“If you’re interviewing reputable companies by researching financial years, reviews, recommendations from family or friends, etc., you should get information, ideas, and at least an approximate range of costs.
What else should I ask the pros?
When planning a home extension, it’s not just the overall cost that matters, and you should take the opportunity to ask the pros any questions that need answering. Bailey Carson suggests that this could include:
- What does your estimate include?
- Can you walk me through the whole process?
- How long is the project expected to last?
- What possible delays should I be aware of?
- What do you do if there are unexpected delays, problems or costs along the way?
- Who would you hire to do the work? Have you worked with them before?
What other factors do I need to consider?
When planning a home extension, remember that the type you choose will determine how much disruption it will cause.
“Don’t live in the space while the work is being done if you can afford to move out,” advises Susan Taylor of Davis Taylor Design. “It’s a very stressful process that gets ten times worse if you live in it. Especially if it’s your kitchen.” If you can’t stay with family or friends during the construction process, the budget needs to include the cost of renting while you’re away from home.
Note that the deadlines have been extended under the current circumstances. “Lead times are longer, the permitting process is longer, and inspections are delayed due to the ‘renovation rush,'” says Susan.
Material prices also continue to rise. “An offer you received a month ago may no longer be valid,” says Susan. “Most of the people I work with put a “valid for 10 days” parameter on their quotes and estimates. Request an updated quote so you’re not caught off guard by overages.’
Do I need an architect for a house extension?
First and foremost, you should know that local building authorities may require you to have an architect. Check with your local building authority to be certain of what is required in your community for the type of expansion being planned.
Whether it’s a good idea to get the professional input of an architect, you should be aware of the possibilities. “If you’re hiring a contractor who specializes in additions, chances are they’ve hired an architect or have a relationship with an architect that they work with on a regular basis,” says residential real estate investor Bill Samuel of Blue Ladder Development .
“It’s recommended that you hire an architect or design-build company to do architecture,” says Gregg Cantor. “However, an experienced designer or draftsman can create building plans with the help of a structural engineer or civil engineer,” he notes.
Is an addition worth it?
It is usually worth supplementing. “In general, expanding your home is likely to increase the value of your home,” says Bailey Carson. “But it’s important to think about what type of addition will work best for your home’s floor plan — and how much space will enhance your home and property,” she advises.
“Certain additions like garages, bedrooms, and extended kitchens tend to be the most profitable, sometimes even giving you as much as a 100 percent ROI (return on investment). These rooms increase the quality of life in your home and increase the value of your house if you decide to sell it – a win-win situation!’