It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when planning a remodeling project, specifically a new home addition. Thinking about the new space, design, furniture, and even showing it off to the neighbors can sometimes get in the way of more necessary preparation. We’ve put together this quick guide to keep your plans on track.
1. Gather Legal Documents: Home additions sometimes require a good amount of documentation, including permits, deeds, and so on. You’ll certainly need a comprehensive plot plan of your property, showing property lines and distance to neighboring buildings. These plans and surveys can generally be easily accessed through your local Registry of Deeds. It’s vital to acquire these plans and plots, as additions built outside of property lines are liable to be torn down by the city, or cause other unnecessary legal complications.
2. Budget Properly: This is one of the most important things you must do before attempting a renovation or home addition. Make sure to take everything into account when planning a budget, not just material and contracting costs. Your architect or renovation designer can help you determine a realistic budget to accommodate your goals, while making sure you don’t break the bank.
3. What’s Needed: Similar to a budget, making a list of what you want and need from your renovation or home addition is vital to making sure you don’t go overboard. Always accommodate the basics or most important features of your addition before seeking out luxuries, like wine coolers for kitchens, or Jacuzzi tubs for a bathroom.
4. Go Professional: Lots of us think we can design homes ourselves, but the reality is that architects provide a necessary service, and are key to creating spaces that the average person just can’t imagine. Often times the architect will also have a nice list of builders that you can speak with that are already “vetted”.
5. Speak to Your Neighbors: One of the more courteous things you can do early on when planning an addition is telling your neighbors about the project. Rather than adding an angry neighbor to your problems, it’s best to approach them early on and take note of any complaints they might have. It’s especially important if your neighbors are really close.
6. Create A Short List of Builders: Checking references and getting remodeling recommendations is vitally important to choosing a builder that you can trust and one you’ll be glad built your new addition. Most often, architects will have some quality insights into hiring reliable contractors.
7. Additions are NOT DIY Projects: While we all like to think we’re the handiest person in the world, the reality is if a bank is financing the project they will likely require that you hire a licensed contractor. Home additions are complicated projects requiring multiple trades and lots of coordination. DIY’ers just don’t have the relationship with sub-contractors to get them on the job in a timely fashion. Here’s more on why you should hire a professional.
8. Evaluate Utilities Before You Begin: Before starting a new addition, it’s best to meet with an electrician and HVAC contractor to determine the capacity of your existing systems. Long before you pick a builder, you might as well find out if your existing electrical and HVAC systems can handle new loads from the new space. This is vital information to have while planning your budget. It’s also important to contact JULIE (by calling 811) before digging to make sure you don’t hit underground utilities – make sure your general contractor does this.
9. Check on Financing: A new addition sounds wonderful but it won’t be a wonderful experience if you break ground on the project before knowing where the money will come from. In today’s crazy real estate market, you’ll be required to bring substantial equity to the table.
10. Realistic Expectations and Patience: The best advice for anyone considering an addition to their house is coming up with realistic expectations. Be realistic with your budget, your needs, and your expectations. Although you’re going to be excited, be as patient as you can with the process, as quality results take time. Even small projects can take time and cause some disruptions to your family, but the end result is worth the wait.