Do I Need An Architect For My New Jersey Home Addition?

Do I Need an Architect in NJWhen considering an addition to your house you’re going to have a lot of questions. And that’s completely normal. Putting on an addition is not something you do everyday. Most people don’t do it more than once in a lifetime.

One of the biggest questions about your home addition project is Do I need an architect?

Here are some points that you need to take into account while planning your addition project.

New Jersey Laws Need to Be Considered According to New Jersey law, all projects involving construction, enlargement, repair, renovation, alteration, reconstruction, or demolish to a structure requires first filing an application with the local township construction official in writing and obtaining the required construction permit that is issued by the township.

Plus, according to New Jersey law, any application for a construction permit for a single family residence shall be accompanied by at least two copies of drawing plans to show the nature and character of the work to be performed. The drawings need to be prepared by a state-licensed and registered professional architect or engineer and must bear the signature and seal of said professional.

Do I Need An Architect If I Have A Good Contractor? Good contractors are skilled with physical construction and management of labor, materials, construction cost and schedule. Many experienced contractors have good individual design ideas, what finish to use on this floor, what exterior siding to use on the front of the house, what light fixture to hang in the foyer. The architect, however, will use materials as an across-the-board, full wardrobe and will select and coordinate them based on the sentiment of choosing quality rather than quantity.

What About Using A Structural Engineer? Structural engineers are very skilled at design of the “skeleton” of a building, but it is not too common that their services are sought for the design of general building style or spatial organization, which is what an architect’s work includes.

What Differentiates Architects From Contractors And Structural Engineers? What differentiates architects from contractors and structural engineers is their ability to apply a universal approach to thought and design through all aspects and stages of a project.

Here are some examples. Placement of one window on the second floor affects another window below it on the first floor, leaving a better impression on the mind when they are aligned. Aligning the windows together may adversely affect one window’s placement in relation to the space it is serving; so, adjustment of the space may be required, and its adjacent space, and on and on until the architect can get it to reach a resolving termination. The architect’s experience of working with the spaces individually as well as together is the uniqueness that he brings to the project.

The content of the soil in the earth under the house will eventually determine the size of the very highest beam at the top of the roof, which will determine ceiling height and, in turn, psychological perception of a space, as height versus width and length are considered.

The bane of Jack-and-Jill bathrooms: two bedrooms occupied by children each with a door into a shared bathroom is a ticking time bomb for sibling battle when you consider that eventually the door of room A is going to be left locked by occupant of room B, upsetting room A occupant, who has to go around to room B and flip the bird before going into the bathroom. A kitchen island with a sink should not be placed directly across from the range. Staggering the sink and range, even slightly, is not as tiring to the cook.

Can’t I Just Do It Myself? Home design software and DIY weekend endeavors fall short of the full potential of a great architecture project. Positioned in the market to save the homeowner money, in part, by omitting the services of an architect, it also omits the value an architect’s experience adds to a project.

A good architect will include in the architectural drawings everything the homeowner wants, but will also provide concepts and insight that wouldn’t have been considered otherwise, making the project better developed and more rewarding and enjoyable for the homeowner and ultimately establishing greater resale value.

Good architects are skilled at listening to their customers. What the homeowner wants to do and can do, is the architect’s challenge to make happen and in the quickest, most cost effective, and creatively smart way possible. The homeowner’s words are the directive; the homeowner wants to be heard and the resulting spaces and building are a testament to the fact that the homeowner was heard. The architect ushers in that result.

Communication With Your Contractor Is Crucial The bridge from the homeowner’s mouth to the contractor’s hammer is the architect’s work together with the town’s approvals. The architect’s drawings are legal documents that represent graphically and in text what the homeowner wants to do. The drawings are also instructions for what the homeowner wants the contractor to build and they show the standard building and safety code requirements sought by the state. The architect’s drawings are meant to facilitate and legitimize that dialogue between homeowner and contractor. The bonus points the architect adds to the project are the ideas and concepts that take the homeowner’s directive to an elevated level. If a wife wants her husband to make a chicken dinner for the kids, from what source is the recipe that she gives him? Tyson Food Inc. or Julia Child?

Rules And Regulations In New Jersey Vary Widely State safety and building code requirements are written to protect the general public and act in the public’s best interest. The state defers interpretation and enforcement of the codes to local authorities that preside over projects being constructed; in other words, the township building department has the final say on what is being built in town.

Building officials differ from township to township in their interpretation of the codes; there is never unanimity. They each tend to look for specific issues, never all issues, when reviewing drawings and inspecting construction progress. While some look for barrier-free accessibility (handicap access) omissions from a design, others may be more concerned with ample insulation in the exterior walls, and other are concerned with the design of the exterior light fixtures and that they are circuited separately from the rest of the house. When asked if there is concern with one issue about which an inspector had not previously been concerned with, he or she will voice the affirmative, as opinion is now on record.

4 Ways To Find The Best NJ Architect For Your Project

The Critical Role That Creativity Plays In Your Home Addition

creativity home additionWhen it comes to adding onto your home, you ideally want to build on the addition for a particular purpose. Many people make additions to accommodate a growing family, to add on space for an office, or to simply make a space for relaxation. No matter your reason for building onto your home, it’s imperative to keep in mind that creativity can go a long way. For instance, adding on an office/guest room is an excellent way to meet two needs by adding on only one room. Here’s a quick look at the critical role that creativity plays in your home addition.

Your creativity matters

Your creativity matters, no matter how small or how big it may be. By intertwining your interests and creativeness into your home addition project, you’ll be able to make your construction endeavors incredibly exciting. Take for instance that you’ve always wanted a fireplace in your home. Within your home addition, you could incorporate a fireplace and skylights to create an invigorating room that takes advantage of Mother Nature at its finest.

The best way to identify how to incorporate your creativeness into your home addition is to first pinpoint your interests. Do you like sports? How about gardening? Have you always wanted a spa room? These interests of yours are perfectly capable of being integrated into your addition. Once you have chosen the aspects of your interests that you want your addition to reflect, it’s then time to start designing.

Think about cost-efficiency

Your creativity should always strive to improve cost-efficiency within your home, and there’s no better way to do this than by making a home addition that enhances your home’s heating and cooling efficiency. You need to explain to both your architect and your construction manager that you want the room to capture solar energy. It’s also imperative to point out that you want the solar heat to be appropriated in a way that it is distributed as heat for the rest of your home in the winter and then rejected as heat during the warmer months.

Think about colors

Are there two or more colors that when paired together give you a lively sense of happiness? Perhaps these colors mesh so well together that they appeal to you in a way that no other colors do. If you have certain colors that you absolutely love, you should definitely incorporate them into your home addition. Every time you walk into the new room, you’ll be enveloped in these colors, and you’ll know that the room has been personalized to your liking.

Get creative with paint and corner spaces

One of the most cost-effective ways to add character to any new home addition is by adding paint blocks to the walls. You can take a white wall, paint a burnt orange block and then add photos inside the block.

And don’t forget about turning your new room’s corners into versatile living space. One corner could serve as a sitting area, while another could be home to a corner bookcase, perfect for a small library.

It’s yours, so make it your own

Regardless of the reasons that your adding a room onto your home, your creativeness can make it much more of an enjoyable activity rather than must-do task. Even the smallest of spaces can be used as storage, indoor gardening and much more. Just make sure to explain your creativeness to those involved in your construction project as this will help ensure that your creative dreams become a reality.


5 Ways To Choose The Right Architect For Your Home Addition

5 Ways to choose the right architectThe kids have taken over every room in the house, the wife is opening up her own home business in the dining room, and the parents just dropped their luggage off on the front stoop for an extended stay. It’s time to realize that the current size of your house just isn’t big enough for everyone’s needs.

Adding on a home addition will give that extra bit of space for a spare bedroom, entertainment space or home office. Yet to get it done right, you want to hire a professional architect to design the addition so it fits into your design style and your budget. Don’t scratch your head trying to figure out the right architect for your needs. Use these 5 tips so that you have the most success picking out one that will bring your design dreams to life.

1: Select Professionals Who Are Licensed And Certified Architects Seriously, you wouldn’t hire a hair stylist to perform open heart surgery on you. So don’t hire someone who doesn’t have the education, experience and licensing to perform the architectural designs for your home addition. Professional architects will normally have degrees through a National Architectural Accrediting Board program. They may also be members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and be certified with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Having licensing, memberships and accreditation ensures that the architect is working by the standards and regulations of the industry to create safe building structures.

The AIA website allows you to find architects in your state and region. So you can develop a list of architects and use other factors to narrow down the list. Be aware that there are many people who may have a degree in architecture but never obtained their licensing as they will refer to themselves as home designers. Also, not every architect will be listed on the AIA website although they have the education, experience and licensing to help you with your home addition.

2: Obtain Referrals From Friends, Family, Coworkers And Building Professionals If you want an architect that you can trust, get referrals from friends, family and coworkers. They can tell you about their previous experiences when working with certain architects, how much the architect charged for services, and how the architect captured their design ideas. Don’t know anyone who has worked with an architect? Then ask about building professionals such as contractors, interior designers and painters that your family and friends have worked with in the past. These professionals may have certain recommendations as you will know they will work well with the architect.

3: Compare Fees Versus Services Home addition design services will be varied between professionals. All architects will offer design, blueprints, site inspections and revisions. Yet there will be additional services that may be included in with their basic contract or be optional services that you can request, such as helping you hire a contractor, managing the project, reviewing payment invoices, and providing LEED coordination/certification assistance. Find out what services the architect provides, what optional services are available, and what are the fees for their services. You will also want to find out how they charge for their services — such as a percentage for the projects costs (8% up to 15%) or a retainer — and when the fees will be billed so that it will fit into your financial budget.

4: Selecting An Architect By Signature Style You love a mixture of colonial and rustic design themes. Yet the architect keeps trying to get you to agree with modern industrial designs. Some architects have a signature style that they won’t stray from very often as they try to place a bit of it into your design plans. Most architects will put their own signature styles on the backburner and instead focus on your particular style ideas because it is your home addition you will have to live with and enjoy. Yet if the architect insists on adding Spanish colonial revival to your modern Gothic preferences, you may want to select a different architect.

5: Conduct The All Important Interview Really, you have to interview the architect to find out their strengths, weaknesses and how they will communicate with you in regards to the project. The interview is also a way for the architect to find out more about your design ideas. Ask important questions such as what obstacles may be encountered with the home addition, what projects the architect has previously done work on, how long the project will take from the design to the construction phase, and if the architect has a list of contractors that they will work with to complete your project.

Have A Beautiful Home Addition With Help From The Right Architect It’s not that daunting to find an architect that will be the perfect fit for you. Have a clear idea about your home addition plan and provide the architect with photos and preferences so they can nail down your dream design. Then watch as your home addition dreams become a reality.


What You’re Missing In Your Home Addition Costs

What You're Missing In Your Home Addition CostsSurprises happen, and often they are costly. When building a home addition, it’s common to encounter what are often referred to as “hidden costs.” These are expenditures you didn’t consider when first planning your project or, later, after establishing a budget based on estimates by your architect and contractor. Consequently, you need to pad your budget in anticipation of unexpected expenses.

Some costs are difficult for architects and contractors to predict, such as how many extras (change orders) you may request as the project gets underway or what problems may lurk behind walls and within floors and foundations.

Let the reader beware: No one article can cover all the costs that may be hiding in your project, but here are some potential budget surprises.

Zoning Restrictions that Zap Plans Before putting architectural drawings out to bid with the contractors you are considering, ask your architect whether project plans account for the current zoning restrictions set by your city, county or any other entity governing construction code. Zoning issues involve matters such as:

  • How far a property needs to be set back from its neighbors and the street
  • Building height and maximum footprint and
  • Whether accessory dwelling units, such as apartments over garages, are allowed.

Disruptions to Service Lines, Landscaping and Daily Life If you are adding to the ground floor rather than building up, digging for the addition’s foundation may cause disruptions to water, power and telephone services by cutting lines when the locations of these lines are unknown.

Breaking ground and other construction actions, such as dropping tiles from roofs, also create landscape damage. The Bob Vila website suggests maintaining lists of plants that need replacement and checking seasonal sales.

If an addition project is major, some families choose to move out for the duration. So rent may be a cost to consider. However, if you choose to continue living at home, Vila notes, it may be wise to invest in extra childcare and pet care away from your home to decrease construction dangers.

Vila adds that costs for dining away from home may also increase.

Construction Permits Make sure that your contractor has obtained all the permits necessary for your project. Although permits increase your costs, it is far more costly to be fined by your municipality for lack of these documents.

Trying to dodge the permitting process may also lead to a surprise building inspection concluding in an order requiring destruction of work already completed. For example, an electrical inspector may need portions of wall removed to inspect wiring.

Foundation, Roof and Wall Restructuring A soils report is the kind of extra cost you may not mind if it points out potential problems that need to be noted in architectural plans.

Soil may vary significantly from one part of a property to another. Whereas soft, spongy soil necessitates wider foundation footings, expansive clay soil may call for supports called piers. In both cases, these additions to construction avert settling problems later, including fissures in walls and floors.

If your addition is difficult to join to your house’s current roof structure, resolution of this problem may increase charges for design time. However, this hidden cost is less expensive than fees for fixing a leaking roof after construction.

Restructuring walls inside your current home to work with the addition may necessitate altering or moving a load-bearing wall. As the House Logic website notes this may add up to $4,000.

Electrical, Plumbing and Mold Remediation As mentioned previously, walls and floors may conceal unpleasant surprises when opened up. Wiring and plumbing may not be up to code or may require upgrading and rerouting.

Writing at Lifehacker, Melanie Pinola recounts her own story about what she thought would be “a pretty straightforward bathroom remodel” until contractors discovered incorrect siting of the bathtub drain (an extra $2,000 to fix) and mold in back of the drywall (a $3,000 correction).

Change-Order Fever One final thought: Please remember that by making changes to plans during construction, you increase costs for labor and materials. Change orders can make major changes in your budget and deadlines.