Home additions are not magic — they don’t just turn out perfect without some planning work upfront. And you can’t expect that.
Instead, they require planning and organization. A little frustration along the way is not uncommon. At the very least, there are likely to be changes of direction and modifications to the original plan. But home additions can also be magnificent adventures and they frequently turn out even better than expected.
Four prime considerations are vital when planning a home addition or remodeling project.
You may know only that you want more space. But your architect or designer is going to want a few more specifics in order to make your dreams a reality. In some cases, the function of the planned space will dictate the location as well. Additionally, building up or building out are divergent paths. Knowing at the beginning what you can do may eliminate some missteps. Think about the following:
- Will the new space be public or private, used primarily by adults or children?
- Is is a “daytime” room or an evening retreat?
- Is the new room’s function well-defined or is its use subject to change, as might happen when children grow up or leave for college?
- What kind of accessibility is needed? From the outdoors? By various ages? For furniture or supplies? Does the space require adjacent bath facilities? Is storage necessary? What about food preparation and serving needs.
- Finally, are existing home systems, such as heating, cooling and electrical, sufficient to serve the new space?
If “What will it cost?” was not your first question, the total project budget should at least be a part of your initial planning. Set a ballpark figure and then work from a “worst case” scenario. Additions come in all shapes and sizes; and creativity can sometimes be used to supplement a shortage of funds. But there are bottom line requirements, and you can’t count on miracles in the construction industry. Knowing up front what is realistic will save you headaches and disappointment later on.
This is the fun part. Working with an architectural designer gives you a chance to play with your own ideas while relying on professional advice regarding what is doable and appropriate. Working with a professional who is equally “at home” with spatial needs on the interior and how they relate to visual appeal on the exterior is of great benefit. That comprehensive approach should result in a project that runs smoothly from initial planning stages through the final phases of construction because all parties will “be on the same page.”
Coordinating new space with existing space is often more problematic than it initially appears. Depending on how creatively you approach the project, there can be a seamless transition between old and new, or you may wish to define the personality of a new addition in a totally different way, calling attention to its originality and “newness.”
There is no right or wrong way, in the end. Only the solution that best satisfies you.
It is a process. And to achieve the desired results takes time. Major renovations can span many months, and even simple additions are not completed in the blink of an eye. Planning an addition, and then living through the design and construction phases, requires patience and realistic expectations.
Scheduling is important along the way. Develop a schedule with your designer or architect as well as with your builder. But know that schedules must be adjustable, based on a wide range of factors.
When your addition is complete, however, stand back and savor the new space, knowing that what began as only an idea became real through hard work and cooperative effort.