4 questions about home additions you're too afraid to askWhen it’s time to get serious about the home addition you have been pondering for years, here are a few suggestions that you may want consider. Many problems can arise when home owners are reluctant to ask several very important questions about adding on to a home.

Here’s some independent research, done to see what kind of questions people have. Here’s the complied list of things you should definitely ask either an architect or prospective remodeling contractors before you proceed with your project:

  1. Will the addition actually add any value to your home? Depending on the motivation behind your project, this is perhaps the most important question. If you are expecting to stay in your home for the rest of your lives, it probably doesn’t matter much, but if you are expecting to sell any time soon and are looking to recover the cost of an addition be aware of several key elements an appraiser will look for when evaluating your home for sale:
    1. How many square feet does it add to the property?
    2. Did it include a necessary repair life a roof replacement or fixing structural issues?
    3. Does it fit with the overall design of the home or does it detract from the original layout of the house?
    4. Was the addition “within the four walls” of the existing structure or did it require external changes?
  2. Are there any zoning restrictions that impact the project or what kinds of special permits are required? One of the things that continue to shock is the number of people who are considering a multi-thousand or even a multi-million dollar addition to their home but want to save a few hundred dollars by not pulling the proper permits or creating a valid blueprint that is approved by a local building authority.  You may also be surprised to find out that your addition may not be within as specific number of feet of your neighbor, may not exceed a certain height or may not fit within the covenants established by your homeowners’ association. It is obviously a much better idea to find out about such restriction in advance because most building authorities can require you to make necessary changes even after you’ve spent the money for an unapproved addition.
  3. How much is it going to cost when all the bills finally come in? Here again, the number of people who grossly underestimate the full cost of their prospective projects is very high. Most look at the obvious things like lumber and other structural materials but fail to consider paint (which can be quite expensive depending on the size of the addition), sub flooring, consumable materials like nails, screws, glues, etc., excavation work that may be required, filling back in after excavation, grading and lawn repair, plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems.  What goes on within or behind the walls can often be more expensive than the visible changes home owners are looking to make. Be sure to have someone knowledgeable in the industry review your materials lists to make sure you’re not leaving anything out. The “little things” add up quickly during a renovation project and every trip to the hardware store usually costs at least three to four more times the amount you expected.
  4. Is your remodeling contractor bonded or insured? Every single one of the contractors who work on additions should be bonded and insured. They are dealing with potentially hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of your money and if they cause problems, you want them to bear the brunt of the liability and not you. Every reputable contractor carries insurance for any damages they may cause during a project and most are required to post bonds for any projects they bid on, especially ones in the public domain.

Summary

This is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you started in the right direction and will likely cause you to ask a few questions of your own. A couple of bonus questions that many people are reluctant to ask, but should, are “What happens if something goes wrong?” and “Do you have references we can talk to about a project that went wrong and how you handled it?”

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