Creating a new room or a bigger space is the type of home improvement project homeowners dream about. You might want a bigger kitchen, or a new living room for your growing family. Maybe you’re thinking of adding a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor that will help you stay in the home you love longer.

All these dreams can come true. It’s just that even simple additions can become complicated projects. So, to help you get started, here are our five important steps for building a home addition.

Step 1. Get Specific About What You Want

How many square feet do you need your new bedroom to be? Do you want a bathtub or a walk-in shower for your bathroom remodel?

These are questions that will help lead you to a decent ballpark estimate of the cost. Experts say additions can run anywhere from $100 to $600 per square foot depending on where you live, the size of the addition, the cost of materials, etc. So you see why a reliable estimate is important. Experts also recommend adding another 10% or 20% to your quote for unexpected expenses.

Once you got the estimated cost of your home addition, you can figure out what you can afford and where you will get the money. Many people fund this major expense with cash-out refinances of their homes.

Step 2. Hire Reliable Professionals

Good architects and contractors might be pricey, but paying for trustworthy professionals is oftentimes worth it. Consulting an architect first can help make sure you’ll be happy with the finished addition and can provide information on if the addition will add value to your home. You’ll want general contractors who do good work, are reliable, and can be counted on to get it done in a timely manner. Be sure to get several proposals before choosing your professionals. Having a range of prices always helps.

You might also think about hiring a design-build firm. These companies oversee the entire addition: design, project management, and construction.

Step 3. Know Zoning Laws, Building Codes, and Homeowners Rules

Local professionals should know local zoning laws and building codes, so be sure your addition follows those terms. After all, it’s your house and you are ultimately responsible.

There’s also zoning laws that can affect how an addition is used, as well as how it is built. For example, apartments and home offices are often highly regulated by local ordinances.

If you’re part of a homeowners association or housing community, there may be rules that govern what kinds of additions you can build and where you can build them. Know what these rules are before the sledgehammers start swinging or the shovels start digging.

Step 4. Get It in Writing. All of It.

You want a signed contract before you begin construction. This should include the following:

  • A clear and complete description of the project, with drawings and/or blueprints
  • A list of the materials the project will require
  • A construction schedule with dates for finishing stages of the work and a completion date
  • A payment schedule that lists out the professionals on the job and their roles

It’s also a good idea to update your home’s insurance policy to make sure the addition is covered before the work begins.

Step 5. Plan How You Will Handle the Disruption

Experienced builders know how to minimize the noise, dust, and disruption of a project—but your house is still going to be a work zone. If you’re having your kitchen redone, set up a temporary kitchen in another room with a toaster oven, microwave, and coffee maker.

If you have kids, you can time construction for when they are away at camp or staying with family. Pets bothered by noise or strangers might need to be housed at a friend or family member’s house. For long projects, you may want to consider staying in a comfortable hotel for a couple of days, simply to give yourself a break.

Hopefully at this point you feel confident in your game plan to begin this upgrade. So if you’re saying, “Yes, I can do this!” we have a few tips on how to pay for that home addition.

Subscribe to Email Updates