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Building House Extensions

A House Extension Provides a Number of Advantages over Buying a Larger Home

By: Mark J. Donovan

If you need more finished living space, a great alternative to selling your existing home and buying a larger one is building a house extension. Building a house extension, or room addition, can often be a more cost effective solution for gaining additional living space. Unlike selling your existing home and buying a larger one there are no real estate sales commission fees, taxes, moving expenses and utility hookup fees to have to deal with when building a house extension. A room addition also prevents the family from having to uproot itself from its local neighborhood and schools.


This reason alone is one of the chief reasons that homeowners decide to forgo moving and undergo the effort of building a house extension. Common house extensions include master bedrooms, family rooms, bump-out kitchens, sunrooms and conservatories.

Building a room addition, however, should not be considered lightly. It is a major construction project that is both expensive and disruptive to the family. On a cost per square foot basis building a room addition is more expensive than building a new home. The reason for this is that building a home extension requires some demolition work to the existing home so that house addition can be seamlessly tied into it.


A house addition also requires a great deal of upfront planning and careful management during the construction. So if you think you want to go down the route of building a home extension start by writing down what kind of space you want to achieve in the extension and figure out your target budget. For example, are you looking to create a large master bedroom for yourself, or are you looking to expand your kitchen and maybe include a new family room. Ultimately the objectives of the new living space will dictate the materials required in its construction and the cost of the project.

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Depending upon the features and size of the house extension you may need to consider moving your family out of the home for a period of time. This is particularly true if you and your family have a low threshold for the disruptions and mess that comes hand-in-hand with building a house extension.

Once you’ve scoped out the objectives of the house extension you can then begin to work out the specific plans for it.


You may want to check with your local building inspector before developing your house extension plans, as they may be able to give you useful upfront advice and make you aware of any types of setbacks or easement restrictions on your property. You may also want to hire an architect to draw up the house extension plans. Alternatively, you can buy a house design software package and create your own set of blueprints for the house extension. One benefit of using an architect is that they can point you in the direction of quality general contractors. Architects can also be used in the capacity as an oversight manager too. They can confirm that the general contractor is really building the house extension to the blueprints, as well as to the various national and local building codes.


After you have generated a set of blueprints you can engage with potential general contractors to bid on the project. Hiring the right general contractor, or subcontractors if you plan to be your own general contractor, is critical for ensuring a successful outcome of your house extension. So make sure to check several references with each contractor you are considering to hire. Also, make sure your house extension blueprints not only include dimensional information, but also list your required materials.


This way you can be more likely to receive contractor quotes that are consistent with one another, at least in terms of scope and materials used.

When building a house extension you also need to consider how to finance it, unless you plan to pay cash for it. If financing is required you can either get a home equity loan or remortgage your entire home with additional funds approved for the house extension construction.

Though there is a great deal of planning and work required in building a house extension, and costs per square foot basis are high, the total cost of a house extension typically pales in comparison to selling and buying a new home. Thus, why so many homeowners often choose the house addition route over buying a larger home.


For more help in obtaining accurate and consistent house addition contractor quotes, see my “Room Addition Bid Sheet”. The “Room Addition Bid Sheet” includes a request for quote section that you can provide directly to prospective general contractors. It also includes a comprehensive cost breakdown spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel format that you can edit to track projected costs versus actual costs for every phase of the project. Lastly, it includes a section that provides further insight into the project and how to interpret the expected questionnaire responses from the contractors.

House extensions are typically much more cost effective than selling your home and building a new and larger one.

Photo by Mark Donovan

So if you are serious about a house extension start by visiting your local building inspector to see what key items you need to consider in your plans and construction. Then develop a detailed set of plans and bill of materials before engaging with prospective contractors. Finally, select a general contractor that you feel comfortable working with and that you’ve done your due diligence on in terms of references checks. Make sure to do reference checks with previous clients, the state, and the Better Business Bureau. By following this process, and with a little luck, your house extension building project should go relatively smoothly and you’ll achieve the new finished living space that you dreamed of.   


For more help on building a house extension, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's Home Addition Bid Sheets. Our Home Addition Bid Sheets provide you with the knowledge and information on how to plan a home addition project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. They also include detailed cost breakdown tables and spreadsheets for estimating your own new home addition building costs.

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Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on a home extension from one of our prescreened and licensed home construction contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your home addition estimate.






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