What You Should Know Before Building an Extension on your Home

You’ve outgrown your home but you do love the house and would rather not sell. So, you’re starting to make plans to build an extension instead. This is going to be a major project and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Photo: Home Bunch

You’re going to want to talk to contractors, local officials and perhaps even hire a residential land surveyor, even before the first shovel breaks ground. These are some of the vital aspects of the job you need to start with.

Know Your Permits and Approvals

You’ll need to know what you’re actually allowed to do before you get anywhere. Adding an addition to your house will definitely increase the value of your home, but it isn’t like sneaking a shed into your backyard without a permit. You’ll need proper permits and government approval for the survey for construction and the construction itself. Most contractors will expect to see such permits before you get started, so don’t plan on skirting the issue.

The French Tangerine

Unfortunately, you’ll have to get more planning done before you get to this point. The permits are vital and yet can’t be done first. Talk to the council office and see what paperwork they need, and then work on getting those plans together. A rough blueprint and specifics about where on the property this addition is going are the most common things they will need. You might also need to provide info about who is doing the work, and copies of your current home-owners insurance.

Consider the Costs

A project of this size can be difficult to estimate for the average homeowner that doesn’t have any real experience in major construction. Get at least 2 quotes from contractors so you have a fair idea what you’re getting into. And when you do ask for quotes, be detailed and specific in what you’re looking to have done. It’s not enough to get a quote to “add a room”, and not mention that it’s a bathroom that will require a lot of additional plumbing work, or that you meant a 2-story room with a stained glass skylight. Even if you don’t have every little thing decided at this stage, you need to have a good grasp of your overall needs in order to get a decent quote.

Photo: Apartment Therapy

Get the Location Right

Another specific part of your pre-planning should be a thorough examination of your building location. Just because a certain spot works perfectly from an interior standpoint, doesn’t mean it is the best spot to start building based on what’s underground there.

Talk to your various utility companies or a Call Before You Dig service and find out if any existing cables, pipes or wires are going to be in the way of your plans. Just remember that there is more to look for than utility lines though. That’s where a professional surveyor can come in handy. Large rocks or unknown obstacles (like a long-forgotten septic tank or even a buried pile of old patio stones).

Of course, these are just a few starting points that you need consider at the outset of your construction project. There will be a lot more work ahead before you have that lovely new addition.