What you need to know to plan for a home addition

Are you considering a home addition? It’s common for homeowners to complain about their home’s shortcomings. They know what’s not working for them and that they need to renovate. And they may think an addition is the solution, but often they have no idea where to start, even if they’ve done some initial research.

That’s where we come in. It’s our job to provide you with the most relevant information and solutions to help you decide whether an addition is the best choice and, if so, what kind of addition option is right for you.

In our experience, homeowners are rarely prepared for the questions that will be asked of them or for the decisions that will need to be made throughout a project, especially when adding square footage.

With that in mind, we’ve prepared these tips to help you plan your home addition.

What is the purpose of your addition?

Clarifying the purpose of your addition might seem obvious, but it is the main driver of the whole process. Simply adding space can be costly and sometimes isn’t the only answer. There could also be restrictions on where you can build your addition that could limit the potential of what you’re trying to achieve with the added space.

Sometimes the better solution is a more efficient layout and use of the space you’ve already got so that it functions the way you need it to.

Before you see a designer, make a list of the issues you are trying to solve with your renovation. Maybe your kitchen is too small or it’s closed off from the rest of the home. Maybe you want to add an ensuite or an extra bedroom or a main-floor powder room. Perhaps you need a proper home office or a space for the kids to hang out without disrupting the rest of the household. Maybe you don’t have enough storage space.

Spelling out what’s not working in your home helps your designer understand the outcome you’re hoping to achieve so they can then work with you to find the best solution. That might be an addition, but it might not. It’s not simply about wanting an addition because you need more space; it’s about why you need that extra space.

Determining your budget

Rarely does adding an addition not affect the existing house. It might be upgrading the furnace to handle the new square footage, replacing floors or trim to match the new ones, or simply adding a fresh coat of paint to a room or level of your home.

When it comes to budgeting then, it needs to be determined on an individual project basis. Your designer can work with you to balance your wants and needs with the cost of the scope of work so that it can fall within your budget.

To add a basement or not

There are a couple of options for the foundation of your new addition, primarily foundation walls or support piers.

It’s more expensive to excavate and pour new foundation walls, but the benefit is you get additional basement space. Depending on the space and location, this could result in an extra bedroom, a rec room, a new bathroom, laundry room — there are lots of options.

Piers, on the other hand, can support your new addition without having to excavate a basement space. Piers can be either poured concrete or helical screw piles. (We prefer helical piers as they require no excavation or concrete work; they are simply screwed into the ground.)

Limiting scope creep

Home renovations can spiral out of control in the blink of an eye. You did “this” so you might as well add “that” and, before you know it, your budget is blown and you’re doing work in more of the house than you planned. This is known as scope creep and it’s a common issue.

You want to keep some money aside as a contingency fund for any unexpected costs during construction or to buy fantastic furniture for your new space.

Making a priority list of your needs and what the reasoning is behind your renovation will help you make responsible decisions when it comes to adding to the scope of the project. Keeping an eye on the end goal and understanding what you’ll be happy to live with will help keep creep in check.

Besides, after we design and establish a budget for the must-haves, we can revisit the nice-to-haves to see how we can fit these in.

There will be compromise

No matter the budget or size of project, there will be at least one compromise during the project; it goes hand-in-hand with design, especially when there is a family of multiple tastes and personalities to design for.

During the design process, feel free to ask your designer if there’s a way to save on costs through either the construction method or layout. At Urbacity, we design an addition (and any related layouts) to be the best solution determined from our initial meetings. But this layout may have larger costs than some alternatives. If you’d be just as happy with one of the alternatives, we can make that compromise for you.

In the end, we want to design something you and your family will love, show off to friends and family and enjoy for years to come.


How to find a contractor for a home addition?

Finding a contractor for a home addition involves research, referrals, and careful assessment. Here’s a concise step-by-step guide:

  1. Determine Needs: Define the scope of your project (e.g., size, type of room, features).
  2. Research: Look online for contractors in your area. Websites like HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List can help.
  3. Referrals: Ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations.
  4. Check Qualifications: Ensure contractors are licensed, insured, and have good reviews.
  5. Interview: Meet with at least 3 contractors to discuss the project and get estimates.
  6. Visit Past Projects: See their work firsthand if possible.
  7. Get Detailed Quotes: Ensure it includes labor, materials, and other potential costs.
  8. Review Contract: It should be clear and cover timelines, costs, and warranties.
  9. Check References: Speak to past clients about their experience.
  10. Finalize: Choose a contractor and discuss payment terms.

Remember to maintain good communication throughout the project.