Building a Room Addition is an Ideal Solution
for Growing Families
By: Mark J. Donovan
Room additions are a great solution
for providing additional living space to your home, if your family is growing, or is
expecting to grow. Room addition costs are also comparatively low compared to
selling your existing home and moving to a new and larger home. Room additions,
versus buying existing larger homes, also offer the opportunity to be
creative and to customize future living space. For example, you can elect to
add a family room addition or bedroom, bump out your kitchen, or even build a
garage addition with overhead living space.
With room additions, you can
aesthetically determine where the room addition ties into the existing home and select all
of the exterior and interior finished materials.
Room additions are not
unlike building an entirely new home, particularly if the room addition
includes a kitchen and/or bathroom. Most, if not all, of the standard trades
that are required in building a new home are also necessary for building a
Thus you will need to generate a set
of buildable room addition plans, pull building permits, and hire either a
general contractor or subcontractors for every specific phase of the project.
It is also important to note that a room addition project can be disruptive to the occupants of the home. With a
little upfront planning this disruption can be somewhat mitigated but do not
expect a hassle free effort when undertaking the building of a room addition. It
is a big home construction project.
Home Property Plot Plans
Before jumping into a building a room addition
it is import to first look at your property’s plot plan to see what your
options are for adding on a home addition. When looking at the plot plans look
for the following key items:
Property setback requirements
(Sometimes they are on the plot plan, and other times you may need to see your
town building inspecting or zoning board).
Well Location (If you have an
Septic Tank and Leach Field
Drainage or Utility easements
|All of these items will dictate where
you can locate your room addition, and will be evaluated by the building
inspector when you go to pull a permit for your room addition. If you see
potential issues with the property plot plan and your room addition concept, and
are unsure how to proceed, visit your local building inspector or zoning board.
They can help answer any questions you may have as well as provide some useful
tips and ideas.
After studying the plot plan walk around your home and take a
close look at roof lines, and existing doors and windows.
Pay particular close attention to the side, or sides of the home where
you want to add a room addition. You may also want to take a few pictures of
this area to help you during the sketching and planning stages of your room
Additions and Financing
Unless you are planning to pay cash
for your room addition, then you will need to seek a bank loan. It is important
to find out in advance of breaking ground what your budget is for your room
addition. Your budget will help determine the size of your room addition and the
types of building materials you will use. In addition, it may help you decide on
how much sweat equity you will personally put into the project.
Photo by Mark Donovan
Talk with a Local
Real Estate Agent about Building a Room Addition
When planning a room addition it is
always important to understand its return on investment potential. Consequently
it is wise to understand how building a room addition will impact the value of
your home. The room addition type and size can be a major factor in setting the
future value of your enlarged home, and bigger is not always better. Talk with a
local real estate agent about your room addition ideas and plans to see if they
are in line with market trends for your neighborhood.
Addition Construction Plans
When developing your room addition
plans, sketch out the dimensions of the room addition and how it will tie into
your existing home. Also include a separate list of materials to be used in the
construction. For obtaining a building permit your drawings should show
cross-sectional views of the room addition so that the building inspector can
understand what material will be used and how they will be tied together. The
cross-sectional views should include from the concrete footing pads all the way
to the roof.
One of the most difficult aspects of
developing a set of room addition plans is tying the room addition into the
existing home in an aesthetically attractive way. It is also aesthetically
important to develop a room addition design that does not swamp the existing
Room Additions and
Hiring a General Contractor
With room addition plans in hand you
can then begin the process of finding a general contractor and/or
subcontractors. Selecting the right room addition contractor(s) is one of the
most important decisions you need to make. It is very important to find the
right one(s) to ensure your room addition is built correctly and to your
timeline and budget.
Contact neighbors and friends, check
on line, and look in the phone book for potential contractors. National home
addition and home building contractor referral companies are another
alternative. These companies have large national databases of pre-screened and
qualified contractors. There is no cost to the homeowner for working with these
contractor referral companies. You simply fill out a free online form for your
specific room addition needs and they will forward your information on to 3 or 4
local contractors in your area. The contractors will then get in touch with you
to set up a meeting and to review your room addition plans.
Room Additions and Obtaining Contractor Quotes
When obtaining room addition
contractor quotes it is important to make sure that they provide you with a
complete room addition cost breakdown list of every phase of the project. The
more detail in the room addition cost breakdown list, or bid sheet, the more
likely of an accurate room addition cost proposal.
To help in obtaining accurate and
consistent room addition contractor quotes, see my
Room Addition Bid Sheet. The
Room Addition Bid Sheet provides a request for quote section that you can
provide to prospective building contractors. It also includes a comprehensive
room addition cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the
contractor to include his projected room addition costs for every phase of the
When interviewing potential room
addition contractors make sure you check their references. Usually a good litmus
test for evaluating a home addition building contractor is to see how long the
reference list is. The longer the reference list the room addition contractor
provides to you, the higher the likelihood that he has a solid reputation. A
long reference list also helps to get a feel for how long he has been in
business and his level of pride in his work.
Regardless of the length of the
reference list, it is still important to contact at least 3 or 4 of the
references. Contact a couple of more recent projects completed by the contractor
and a couple 2-5 years out in the past. This way you can see how he has been
trending with his work, as well as to see how the quality of his work has been
Finally, it is also important to note
that room addition construction costs are typically higher than building a new
home. The reason for this is that room additions require additional effort to
tie them into the home properly. In addition, a new home construction project offers
economies of scale. With room additions, you may be adding only a few hundred
square feet of area, whereas with a new home construction project you may be
building 2,000 to 4,000 square feet of living area.
So by planning properly, talking with
town and real estate professionals, and hiring an excellent building contractor
you can increase the likelihood of a successful room addition building project.
And by requesting potential contractors to use and provide you with a thorough
room addition cost breakdown bid sheet your room addition will likely meet both
your schedule and cost requirements as well. Good luck with your room addition
For more help on building a room addition, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's
Addition Bid Sheets.
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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