How To Plan for your New Home Addition

STEP 1:  Compile a Project Wish List For Your New Home Addition!

Any professional will tell you that gathering project scope and requirements are the most important thing a customer/homeowner can do in order to ensure they will get exactly what they want. Whether you are building a brand new million dollar house or adding on to your existing home, you should always compile a list of functions and features you want your new space to have.

Identify your Objective:  Start by asking yourself what you want to achieve with this remodeling project. You obviously need more living space, but have you thought about extra storage space? Maybe you also need to improve your home’s traffic flow? Or you may also need more convenient indoor-outdoor access?  Or more entertaining space for your cool cocktail parties? Whatever your objective may be, figure it out early and make sure any subsequent design changes always adhere to your main objective.

Get some Inspiration:  Get into the mood by picking up some remodeling magazines! Check out the Better Home & Garden website for ideas on what is new and fresh in the remodeling world. For example, if you are building a new kitchen or bathroom addition, you want to make sure you are choosing the latest appliances and/or fixtures available on the market today. If you are building a new bedroom addition, you want to brush up on the latest styles of wall covering and wall painting, new techniques in floor finishes, etc. 

Don’t forget to splurge:   Figure out which items are most important to you! Plasma TV, entertainment system, fireplace, kitchen island? Also, don’t rule out some items because you think they may be too expensive. Sometimes, you can economize in unexpected places and find room in your budget for the more expensive items.

STEP 2:  Size Up the Situation – Head Back to Reality!

Ok, now … that’s enough daydreaming! Come back to reality and let’s get to work!

Figure out your Budget: Take a good realistic look at your financial situation.  Consider all your major assets such as equity built up in your current home, your savings, your investments and anything that can be easily liquidated. 

Also, consider your credit rating, your monthly payments, and any do-it-yourself skills you plan on utilizing while doing the project that will save you construction costs. 

Check Out the Home Addition Building Site:  Take a good look at the building site or the area where you plan on building your new home addition. Also survey the area surrounding the new structure. Consider the location of trees and other buildings around it. Plan for special views you want to take advantage of when positioning your new home additon. While you are at it, make sure to check for potential obstacles you may need to remove, relocate or work around such as power lines, utility poles, underground fuel or septic tanks.

Run it by City Hall:  You may have dreamed up the perfect home addition plan, come up with the most creative financial plan and overcome all potential obstacles. However, if your township does not approve your building plan, you will be sent back to the drawing board. So make sure you do your homework and look into any legal restrictions regarding what can be built on your property. Find out about your township’s building height restrictions, building area ratios, design covenants and historic district ordinances. Once your project conforms to your town’s restrictions, you are good to go! Under some special circumstances, you may also apply for a variance (special permission to disregard a particular ordinance), however, this is rarely granted to residential home addition projects.

Crunch the Numbers: Now is the time to figure out if you can actually afford everything you have dreamed of so far. Take a stab of crunching the numbers again taking all your research into consideration.  Very often, when homeowners begin a renovation project, they do not have a realistic budget in mind which makes it very difficult to find the right contractor for the job. It’s always a good idea to do some additional research on the average cost for any renovation before settling on a final figure. Seek out an experienced designer or remodeler and ask them what the cost per square footage is in your area for a remodeling job of your size. Also, depending on what your budget category is (low-budget, mid-price, high-end), the price may vary as well. Typically, a low-end addition without any mechanical work costs $100 – $130 per square foot. Larger additions in more high priced areas cost much more.  Finally, after you settle on a figure, add another 10 -15% to cover any unforeseen costs and delays.  

STEP 3:  Consider Your Building Options.

Ok, so now you have an idea of what you can and cannot afford. It’s time to think about the structure of your addition. 

Modular or stick-built construction: Advances in technology and building processes have opened up a world of endless possibilities for modular home construction, providing strong competition with traditional home building. Modular homes are fabricated on an assembly line at a factory using standard designs but components can be varied somewhat for each project. Read more about modular homes here .

Stick-built construction utilizes traditional methods of home building where each aspect of the process is custom built by your contractor.  According to Wikipedia :  “A stick-built home is one constructed entirely or largely on-site; that is, built on the site which it is intended to occupy upon its completion rather than in a factory mobile homes and modular homes or similar facility.  Homes that are custom-designed or built according to stock plans are considered stick-built so long as they are constructed on-site.”

One Home Addition or several:

Several large additions cost much more than just building one large home addition. Also, building multiple addition will require more intensive planning and design input because each unit needs to be merged with the main home. Of course, sometimes building 2 separate additions may be the most cost effective way of solving particular problems you may have with your existing home. You may need to fix certain issues which may be on opposite ends of your home. Or your property may not be able to fit one large addition but two small addition may resolve the issue. In either case, plan carefully and research all your options.

Build up or Out: 

Most additions are built outward but sometimes it’s best to build up instead. For example, if the job site has limited space, it may make more sense to build a second story rather than expand the ground level. That is of course, if your township allows second story additions. Building up also preserves the space in your backyard and provides more privacy for your bedroom. 

STEP 4:  Find the Right Home Addition Remodelers Team!

Pick the right people: The number and type of professionals you need to hire depends on the scope of your home addition project. However, even for a small home addition project, you probably want to look into hiring a designer or an architect to drawings which will be needed for your building permit. 

Hire Professionals: Once you have your drawings and permit in hand, you are ready to hire your Home Improvement Contractor. From our experience here at, the best way to hire a home improvement professional in through word-of-mouth. Check with your neighbors and friends and find out if they’ve had positive experiences with anyone in the neighborhood. Then post your project on QuoteCity and get an additional 3 qualified professionals to visit your job site and provide you with their estimates. Once you have your potential contractors lined up, it’s time to check their references and their reputation. Take time to find out how long each company has been in business, speak to their previous customers and find out how they completed previous projects.  Here is a link to an excellent article we have written on How to Hire a Contractor that will help you in more detail. 

Spell out the project:  All reputable designers and contractors work according to terms set forth in your contract. Most construction contracts contain three instruments: a text document, a blueprint (working drawings), and a list of materials. When you sign the text document, you agree to all three instruments. Make sure to go over the contract very carefully, if needed, hire a lawyer to help protect against any loopholes. Make sure that the work schedule, the payment schedule and any insurance liabilities are included in the contract and meet reasonable timelines.

So, as you can see, breaking things down into simple steps helped us bring more focus and organization to the project.  The most important thing is to keep in perspective your goals and objective at each stage of the building process and to provide your contractor with the best blueprint and idea of what you are trying to accomplish.

Don’t forget to utilize to help you find the best contractor for your job. 

Post your job here and Good luck!