When it comes to adding on to your home, it can be tough to know what you don’t know, and questions might outnumber answers. In this post, we’ll give you three starter questions you can ask yourself that will give you a framework for making an addition to your home.
What Will This Addition Be Used For?
The function of a room has a lot to do with the details you put into it. If you have dreams of a house with windows for three of the four walls, chances are you wouldn’t want to make it a bedroom. Instead of asking yourself what you want the room to look like, first ask yourself: Who lives in your house? Do you love to entertain? Where do you relax?
The function of your addition has almost as much to do with the way it’s designed as the materials themselves. If you have kids, keep in mind that things will get dirty and safety is an issue. You want to avoid ultramodern materials such as concrete and instead gravitate more toward a durable, yet inviting materials like carpet and warm wood, for example.
How much open space is there for friends to mingle at a party? Do you want a place to serve drinks or a walkout patio to take the party outside? For the entertainer, consider modular furniture and an open floor plan with space for games and counters for people to put their drinks. Thinking of the fun you can have in a room will steer the details toward the perfect addition of your dreams.
Are you a homebody whose idea of a perfect night is a huge, comfy sectional where you can bundle up in warm and cozy blankets? Do you dig a space where popcorn in the cushions is okay and the big screen thrills and the subwoofer booms?
The way you use your new addition determines the finishing touches you put in place to create a space that’s just right. And what else is a room in your house if it’s not a reflection of the way you use it? Make it yours, sure, but make your new addition work with what you have in mind for that room.
When it comes to adding on, you’ve got to set some limits for yourself. It’s easy to say you want to double the square footage of your home, but is it something you can afford? Are you able to add that new sunroom and maintain your home’s value?
“How much” is a broad question that covers a lot of ground. It can cover a very elementary question like “How much do we want to spend?” or “How much room do we want?”
“How much” can also answer those questions whose answers might not be what you’re willing to hear. Questions like “How much do we need this space?” “How much are we willing to put up with the dust, noise and strangers working on our house?”
When you’re honest with yourself about the answers to the question of “how much,” you’ll not only have a better idea of your needs and expectations, you’ll have the groundwork laid out for the project ahead. Adding an addition is no small undertaking and requires a fairly big investment of your time and money. Every question you have shouldn’t necessarily be answered in advance, but they should at least be asked.
Who’s Doing the Work?
The next big question to ask before you pick up the phone or head to the hardware store is “Who’s doing the work?”
You can go a couple different ways with this question. First, you can take it on yourself. With that, you’ll have to make sure you or someone working with you has the skill and know-how to do the job right. There’s nothing worse than getting started on a project and finding out halfway through that you’re in over your head.
Imagine finding out you bit off more than you can chew after spending $8,000 on materials you can’t even use. Going it alone means you’re on the hook for every mistake you make. What’s worse, your mistakes might not come to light until you flip a light switch.
Before you begin, make sure you know your limitations. Which brings me to another possible answer to the question of who’s doing the work: teamwork. If you can frame like nobody’s business, but the thought of wiring makes your skin crawl, why not hire out a contractor? Or maybe you could get your friend to come over to help you out for pizza and beer.
You can save money by hiring out contractors and doing some of the work yourself. Contracting out a job is basically what a contractor does when you hire a company for an addition on your house. And, oftentimes, contractors will add a percentage of markup to the subcontractors they hire. You’re paying for the recommendation of your contractor, but you’re also paying for the contractor standing by the work their subcontractor performs.
However, if you don’t know a hammer from a hole in the ground, you’re better off hiring a contractor outright. On something as important as an addition to your home, get professional help. The right contractor can take your dream addition and make it exceed your wildest dreams.
How do you find the right contractor? It’s all in who you know. I’m lucky enough to have a neighborhood Facebook page where people ask for contractor references all the time. If you don’t have a ready reference like I do, ask your family and friends who’ve had similar work done. If they’re thrilled with the work they had done, they’ll be happy to tell you all about it. On the other hand, if they had an awful experience, they’ll be happy to tell you all about that as well.
One popular option is to use a contractor grading service like Angieslist.com, whose model includes paying a subscription fee for their grading. If a monthly fee provides you peace of mind when hiring a reputable contractor, go for it. If the idea of people paying a fee to have someone rate a company makes you squirm, there are several other options. Amazon has a Home Services section of their site where you can hire a contractor in specific parts of the country. Yelp, usually reserved for bars and restaurants, offers some home service ratings as well.
HomeAdvisor.com, Houzz.com, SevaCall.com and ImprovementCenter.com all follow the Angie’s List model, except they offer it for free. All services offer grades based on user reviews and support themselves based on advertising bought on their sites, some of which can be contractors paying for a call-out in the listings. Whichever avenue you choose, make sure you talk to several contractors for their ideas and estimates before any work begins. Also make sure they’re insured, licensed and bonded to avoid any liability, tax or quality issues.
Have you added on to your home? What questions did you ask yourself before you called a contractor? Do you have any other questions you’d ask when it comes to adding on? Let us know below.
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.