Growing the House with the Family

From on March 17, 2009 in Home Additions

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If there’s one thing I know from past experience, it’s that your family can rapidly outgrow your house. What started as a great starter house for just the two of you can become a crowded nest for a family of four. Instead of pulling up stakes and looking for something new, though, you can fairly easily make an addition onto your home - which, by the way, is way more green than buying a new home that may be really too large for your needs.

There are several things to consider before moving forward with an addition, however, and you might even spend more time planning the project than it takes to build the thing. This is good, though, planning is very important. Here’s a little checklist of things to do before cutting a contractor loose in your house:

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Decisions, Decisions

You know you’ll need more bedrooms to accommodate your growing family, but definitely decide how many and who they’re for. Will the addition be the grand master suite you and your spouse have always wanted? Will it be a child’s room? Should it be more than one room, taking into account that you may have more children in the future? (Hint: it’s easier to add all the rooms you think you’ll need now instead of making a new addition with each new family addition.) Also, think about the size and shape of your current home, an addition to one floor could easily equate into a two-story addition, giving you extra rooms in two locations of your home. Another piece of advice - it’s a good idea to add another bathroom to go with additional bedrooms.

Money Talks

You will need to set a realistic budget for this project. A good rule of thumb is to calculate about $200 per square foot for the addition. Try to decide how much money you have to spend and how much room you want to add on. You may need to adjust your plans for a large addition in order to accommodate your budget, but it’s better to know that now, as opposed to in the midst of the construction phase, which could result in an unfinished project. Also bear in mind that you’ll need money at the end of the project to finish and furnish the room(s).

Material World

You should select the materials you’d like included in the construction of your addition. The world of green construction and remodeling has tons of eco-friendly building materials you can choose from. Know what you want and account for them in your budget.

Going Pro

Selecting a contractor can be a daunting task if you haven’t done this before. You want someone knowledgeable and experienced. Someone you know will do the project correctly, timely, on budget and whom you feel comfortable having in your home, even at times when you’re not there. I highly recommend talking to your friends first - word of mouth is an excellent way to find reliable sources. If you’re on your own, though, you can talk to your local Better Business Bureau, contractor’s board or surf the net on sites like the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). CalFinder can connect you with a contractor who specializes in green building, too. Here are some photos of recently completed additions by our certified contractors: Home Addition Ideas.

Photo credits from top to bottom: Etter Construction, Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling,