Home additions are among the largest home renovation goals for homeowners. If you’re considering adding an extra room, floor, or expansion to your home, it’s important to start your project the right way.
The best place to start is by asking yourself—and your contractor—some important questions about the project.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1. If I could rebuild my house from scratch, what would I do differently?
This is a basic thought experiment that makes you look at your house as a whole and assess how it’s serving the needs of your family. In terms of structure, what would you add? How would you reconfigure things? What is your home currently lacking? ?
There are plenty of online resources available to help you visualize your dream home. Planner 5D, for example, is an advanced online home design tool that allows you to design your dream home for free. Even an amateur rendering can help you explain your vision to your design-build team.
2. What type of home addition would serve our family best?
Once you have your creative juices flowing about your project, consider what you’re hoping to achieve with your addition. Are you trying to add more space to your home? Do you want to add on a specific kind of room? What can you add to your home to better serve your family?
Some popular types of home additions are kitchens, master bedrooms, master baths, storage rooms, family rooms or great rooms, bedrooms, guest wings or mudrooms. You may also consider an unattached home addition such as a pool house, guest house, garage, barn, greenhouse or conservatory. If you’re looking to add more space to your home, consider a bump out, sunroom, or garage conversion.
3. Where is the best place to add an addition to my home?
You’ll want to think about where your home has room to grow (out or up) and how the new addition will flow with the rest of the home.
There are a few key things to consider when you’re identifying the best location for a home addition. Be sure to identify your property lines and think about the shape and structure of your pre-addition home. You’ll also want to take note of where your utilities are located and the natural—and planned—landscaping.
4. How much can I spend on a home addition?
The budget will depend on the type, size, and complexity of your home addition, but it’s important to start the project with a cost range to help guide your plans. You should also consider how the addition will affect the value of your home. Even if you don’t plan on selling soon, you should consider the resale value of the project.
5. Is a home addition feasible for my area?
Before you move forward you should also check with the zoning laws in your area to find out if you can add on and what restrictions you may have. Each town has its own local zoning regulations in place, and they can be complicated if you’re not familiar with the intricacies that go into keeping your project compliant.
Your best option is to work with a team of home renovation experts that will take care of the paperwork. Over the last 40 years in business, we’ve developed working relationships with permit offices and building inspectors across Westchester and Fairfield County. We take care of the local permitting process and submit all insurance and licensing certificates for you.
6. When do I plan on selling my home?
Home additions bring value to both your home life and your home. Whether you’re planning on selling your house sooner or later, it’s important to consider your timeline when considering a home addition.
Some home additions will bring more ROI than others depending on your location, your current home, and the quality of your craftsmanship. To get the most from your home addition, make sure it blends seamlessly in with the original structure while maximizing curb appeal. Keep in mind that it’s important to remodel for your needs, not for resale regardless of the type of home addition you’re planning for.
Questions to Ask the Contractor
7. What experience do you have with home additions?
Most general contractors have worked on a range of renovation projects, but home additions tend to be the exception. Additions require exceptional skills, technique, and materials to be completed correctly. If you’re investing in a major renovation project, you want to make sure that you’re getting quality work with an experienced professional.
Be sure to ask your contractor how many home additions they’ve performed in the past year—and the past five years. You should also request a portfolio of their work so you can see the quality of the project outcome.
8. Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
Never assume that a contractor has the proper qualifications to work on your project. Get their license information and ensure that they are fully insured, including liability and worker’s compensation. Make sure that every employee is on the workmen’s compensation policy, since some contractors insure only a few critical employees to minimize overhead costs which can leave you liable to legal action. For example, Gerety Building & Restoration makes sure to provide all of our clients with proof of workman’s comp and liability for every worker associated with the project.
If you live in Connecticut, you can look up home improvement contractor licenses online. If you live in New York, you can use the Attorney General Office website to look up licenses in New York City, Suffolk, Nassau, and Rockland Counties.
9. What is your estimate for the project?
When getting an estimate from your contractor, you want to make sure of two things: that all of the work you want covered is included and that their estimate fits in with your budget.
There are a few key considerations when general contractors estimate construction costs: the client’s budget, the project start time, and when they’d like to have it completed. This helps determine what materials to use, how many man hours need to be accounted for, and what techniques will be done to meet—and ideally, exceed—expectations.
10. How do you plan on making the addition blend in with my existing home?
The highest quality home additions fit into the existing structure seamlessly—which is why it’s so important to ask about your contractor’s strategy to create a harmonious look. They should consider the overall architecture of your existing home and plan to use similar building materials to maintain consistency. Be sure that their plan takes the roofline, windows, utilities, finish materials, and overall style into consideration from the start.
Keep in mind that it’s important to establish a project strategy well in advance. Rushing a home addition risks lower quality work, and when it comes to creating a seamless look, it’s better to take the time to do it correctly. That being said…
11. How long will the project take?
Home additions are considered a larger renovation project, so understandably, they take more time to plan, design, and build than kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations, or other smaller home improvement projects.
The complexity and size of your project will determine how long your home addition will take, so timelines are difficult to generalize. Typically, the planning and design process alone can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months—let alone the actual construction time, which takes roughly 3 to 4 months on average. Keep in mind that the timeline can change drastically depending on your materials, the scope of your project, and countless other factors.
It’s important to determine how long the project will take so you can plan your life well in advance. If your bathroom will be out of service for the duration of the renovation, for example, you’ll want to plan out an alternative well in advance. If your family is forced to relocate during part of—or all of—the renovation, it’s important to plan for it well in advance.
These 11 questions will help you establish a solid foundation for your home addition from the start. If you plan in advance and gather the right information, you’ll set your project up for success.
The best way to ensure you have a high-quality home addition is with a high-quality renovation team. Gerety Building & Restoration has over 40 years of experience building home additions of all types. We serve homeowners living in Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT including Greenwich, Chappaqua, Pound Ridge, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Bedford, Stamford and more.
Have any questions about planning for a home addition? We’re happy to help.