9 Step Guide to Your Next Home Addition
Updated: Dec 24, 2022
Considering adding more space to your existing home? There may be many reasons why someone would want to extend their home. Whether it is adding another floor, adding a garage, or adding a floor on top of your garage, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure a smooth process.
This part step guide will provide you with an overview of the various components and actions that need to be taken by homeowner’s before commencing the demolition of their home.
The overall message is to start early, plan, do your homework, go to the city, set out contingencies, and seek/source out experts to do the job.
Part 1: Check with your local municipality’s building department
Many homeowners wrongfully assume that simply owning their home allows them to extend or alter its appearance. Although owning your home is the first important part, all municipalities have specific regulations and zoning bylaws in place that layout the rules and regulations that must be followed with any home addition. Your permit application needs to account for and meet the requirements of these regulations to get an approval.
The best way to assess the feasibility of your plan is to attend your city’s building department and present your project in person. The city officials will provide you with the zoning regulations of your property and will guide you through the coverage allowance possible without going through a minor variance and the committee of adjustment.
Speaking with your local planning department will provide you with the information you need to assess the feasibility of your addition project and is an important step that should not be overlooked or forgotten before you move to the next stage.
Never assume you can build anything you like, check with your local municipality, and check the zoning, precedents, and development friendliness of your city.
Part 2: Planning and preparation with a professional
You have assessed the attainability of your proposed project, so the next crucial part is to take the time to plan and hire the right kind of expertise in drawing your project’s plans.
The planning phase is a collaboration between your Team. This includes your architect, engineers, builder, and most importantly your family. Clear communication from the very beginning is crucial, and it is important that you understand how each member’s expertise adds to the overall success of the project.
Your architect and engineers are responsible for creating an efficient design that meets your lifestyle, and that the existing structure can withstand the added load. They will begin by inspecting the existing structure and design the various components of the structure and its construction. These include the working parts such as plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and construction standards and material that need to be used in the build.
At this stage you need to examine your existing living conditions, the things you like about your current space, and components that you wish could be different. Spend some time with your family members and discuss what an ideal living space would entail and develop a Must Have and a Would-be Nice List.
Things to consider:
Number of Bathrooms
Location of Laundry room
Size of Bedrooms
Single or Multi-Zone HVAC system
Taking the right amount of time to plan out the details will save you the cost of making up for mistakes down the road. Therefore, it is important to hire your team not solely based on price, but on competency and quality of work.
Once you have finalized your architectural/structural/mechanical drawings, you will then have to pay the municipal fees and apply for a building permit.
Part 3: Source out a builder and request a quote.
Now that you have your drawings in hand, it’s time to meet with qualified builders that have the expertise with home addition projects. Never be afraid to ask for and check with their references, and if possible, schedule a visit to their most recently completed project. A competent builder would be more than happy to provide you with the information you need to check their credibility.
Once you have met with builders that fit the criteria, you will have to compare their quotes and determine which one will provide you the best value. The best value does not always mean the cheapest price. Given that there are many moving parts to a home addition project, it will require multiple interactions and a lot of time spent with your builder. That is why it is important to also evaluate how well you get along with your builder and that you trust their expertise.
Make sure you receive a detailed quote from your builders to properly compare each quote. A project of this nature will require a great sum of money to be paid, therefore it is important that you know where your money is going. A detailed quote must lay out all the services and parts that are included in the price, as well as the components that are not. The last thing you want is to be surprised with “extras” billed to you without you having any prior knowledge.
Ask your friends, family, colleagues who have done similar projects to refer you to their builder.
Meet with each builder and see if there is a connection.
Ask for a Detailed quote that lays out the project description, inclusions, exclusions, general terms of agreement, owner responsibilities, and project timeline.
Never choose based on price alone but based on competency and the ability of the builder in executing on the project.
Part 4: Firm up with construction agreement
Never accept a verbal price for your price. Always get your quotes in writing and read through the general terms and conditions thoroughly and be clear of each party’s duties. When it comes to a large project of this nature, what is written in the agreement will make all the difference between a smooth build or one that could potentially turn into a nightmare.
Part 5: Comparing your quotes – Make sure to take your time and double check the fine print.
What should be compared: There should be itemised costings along with other details covering every element of your project in each quote. Double-check all the quantities are the same or close to it, and the finishes and materials specified in the quotes are of a similar quality. You do not want to be paying more for a cheaper or inferior product.
Anyway, all quotes are not going to be the same price. Few of them will be more, while few will be cheaper, and few can be significant to each other. If the pricing is way off, you need to dig deeper and find out why. Some of the reasons could be,
Key elements may be missing in the quotes or the builder has misinterpreted the scope of work. For example, the builder may have included landscaping when you are doing that yourself.
Builders may have quoted for different materials on the project that impacts the price.
Builders may charge according to his experience and reputation in the industry.
Builders may be using a very under-handed tactic of quoting low to win the project but then clawing back costs through variations along the way.
So, if you have any doubt during the course, it is worth having a conversation directly with the builder to go through the details together. Ask questions, are there additional costs to expect while the project is underway? Does the estimate include all materials, supplies, tools and even tool rentals? Does the estimate include hiring of all trades and workers as well as managing those workers? Are permits and inspections included in the estimate? This way you will not end up in a mess by signing a cheaper or high-priced quotation.
Also, it is important to check if the builder would be able to meet your preferred timeframes, means of communication, builders’ procedure to manage any issues that may arise during the build (Risk Management), and warranties, Approval and certification fees, Site preparation, demolition costs, site temporary legal requirements, site security and amenities, builders clean, and rubbish removal.
Part 6: Find the best one, the one you feel most confident signing with
Quotes should be an extension of the builder. Of course, price is important, especially if you are on a tight budget, but so is your gut feel for the builder. A quality builder will provide great service from the get-go, and their quotes should reflect the work they produce. If the quotes you have received are detailed, extensive, compiled in a logical order and professionally presented, then this is a reflection on the builder.
So, take your time in choosing the best and you will move on to signing the agreement.
Part 7: Have a final review before signing the agreement.
Construction business is risky enough without contractual unknowns. Lower your risk by reviewing the contract prior to signing. To protect yourself and your project from potential problems, it is best that you review each element once again. If you feel like you do not know what to look for during the final review, we have put together a checklist so you know exactly which clauses to look out for, it also helps you to do any changes you would like to add or remove.
Scope of work
Dispute resolution method
Change order management.
Part 8: The construction stage
As the construction process advances your builder will stay in regular contact with you, to update you on progress and to meet deadlines for selecting finishes and other decisions you may need to make. You will be asked to do a walk-through of your home with the builder.
At each stage of work completion, your municipality will probably require a structural inspection to ensure that the home meets all building code requirements. Do not worry! Your builder will take care of the inspection process. As your home gets close to completion, usually a few days before you are due to move in, the builder will take you on a tour of the entire house. There are two reasons for doing this.
First, the builder wants you to inspect the home in detail to make sure everything has been done right and according to plan.
Secondly, the builder wants to familiarize you with the systems and products in the home—how to operate, maintain and service them.
Anything that requires attention or correction will be noted, even very minor imperfections. That way, there is no debate later about who is responsible.
Many of the products and materials used in your new home come with a manufacturer's warranty, as well as maintenance information. Your builder will pass these materials on to you, along with any warranties by subcontractors for products and services that went into the construction of your home.
Part 9: Enjoy your beautiful stay!
Both you and your builder have worked hard to arrive at this point. Have a final inspection along with your builder, sign the certificate of completion, finish off the final payments, and enjoy your beautiful stay at your new home.
Do not forget to talk with your builder about any changes that might occur in the future, and how to best deal with them.