3 Simple Things You Can Do To Make Sure Your Home Addition Goes Smoothy

Home addition goes smoothlyHaving an addition put onto your home is exciting, but some say that it is fraught with hassles. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Making sure that a few things are in order before going ahead will ensure that the process is smooth, the end result is what you’re looking for, and that there are no problems after the addition is complete. Here are three things you can do to ensure that everything goes as planned:

  1. Have a survey drawing on hand. Homeowners typically get one of these when they buy the house, but not everyone has it handy when it’s finally needed. If the house is several years old, the drawings may have been lost at some point. Also, there are cases in which the original drawings were never handed over. When the drawings were lost or never owned in the first place, the homeowner should have a new survey done to replace them.Even if the original survey drawings are still present, a new survey should be done if the land has substantially changed. Changes that make this worthwhile include other additions that have been done, new outbuildings, new pools, and other such improvements.The reason it’s so important for us to have survey drawings is that they allow architects and builders to see exactly where the current structures are and exactly where the lot lines are. This ensures that your latest addition won’t interfere with what’s already on your land and that they won’t trespass over the lot lines.
  2. Know what to expect. Construction work is typically loud and dusty, starts extremely early in the day, and involves plenty of crew members. Many people find that it’s a good idea to go to a hotel during large projects like the construction of an addition. If you’re likely to be made anxious by the noise, it’s a good idea to go to a hotel while the construction takes place and then come back when it’s time to see the wonder of your completed improvement.
  3. Start with an architectural firm. While construction companies offer design and build services, an independent architect can ensure that you get multiple points of view and that can lead to a much better finished project.Architects will listen when you tell them all of the things you want to be able to do in the new part of the house, how you want to access the new area, and how big you want it to be. This allows them to design an addition that will make you happy for years to come. They also pay close attention to the currently-existing parts of your home so that the addition will come out looking like it was always meant to be there. Blending the old and new is often a challenge.  You won’t have to worry about that tacked-on look that can lower property values instead of enhancing them. Of course, an architect will also take care of the most basic factors of architecture, which is making sure that the design will produce an addition that give you the home of your dreams.

By preparing basic requirements beforehand, hiring a true architectural firm to do the design, and being ready for the inevitable noise and dust of new construction, you’ll do a lot to make the addition-building process go smoothly. You’ll also ensure that there won’t be any trouble down the line.

To learn more about the process of addition design or to set up an appointment to get one of our highly-detailed proposals, just contact us. We’ll be happy to come out and discuss all of your needs.

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3 Home Addition Tips Every Homeowner Needs To Know

3 HOME ADDITION TIPSIf you’re thinking about adding onto your home, you’ve more than likely already spent a lot of time in front of your computer or smartphone doing research. After all, you want the new addition to be perfect, and there’s no better place to find tips and information than your trusty friend Google.

If this sounds like you, then you need to be well aware that no matter how much research you’ve conducted, there are three extremely important questions you need to ask yourself before you put on that addition.

Have you looked into the zoning restrictions that affect your addition?

Any professional architect will tell you that the first thing you need to consider are zoning restrictions. You don’t want to plan out an addition and buy the materials only to find out you can’t even build it. These restrictions will vary widely by geography.  In some locations, you might be good to go with any type of home addition and have less restrictions. Still, you can run into additional issues if you live close to wetlands and other types of restricted terrain. In residential areas, there can be many things you have to look out for. For instance, you more than likely can’t put on an addition that extends to within a set number of feet from your neighbor’s yard.

Also, keep in mind that your town could have restrictions that limit the size of an addition before you have to get a variance from the town.

Does your desired addition add value to your home?

Many homeowners fall victim to the belief that if they don’t intend to sell their home, then it doesn’t matter whether the addition adds value. Truth is though, adding value to your home is important for many reasons other than wanting to sell it at a higher dollar amount. You never know what life will throw your way, and you very well may find yourself in a situation in which you need to take out a loan using a home equity line of credit. In this type of situation, you’ll want your home to appraise for as much as possible.

There are many types of home additions that add value. You can’t go wrong with adding on a bathroom. Ideally, for each bedroom in the home, you’ll want at least one half-bath. So if you have four bedrooms, you’ll want at least two whole baths, or in the least, one whole bath and three half-baths. HGTV states that you can usually recoup anywhere from 80 to 130 percent of the money you invest in a new bath addition, and even better is the fact that everyone in the household will have access to a bathroom when they need one.

Have you hired a professional architect?

If you’ve yet to hire a professional architect to design your home addition, you need to do so ASAP. Even the best of construction workers can’t make a home addition look right unless a detailed blueprint is developed. A professional architect can pinpoint construction issues before they pop up, followed by providing solutions, which lowers the overall cost of the project and ensures it can be completed by the project deadline. And while you may know the exact way that you want your home addition to look, a professional architect can provide you with valuable pieces of advice that can have the addition project go better than you ever imagined.

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4 Things You Can Do To Help Your Architect Do A Great Job

help your architectHiring an architect to work on your addition or renovate your home’s structure vastly improves the design process and ensures you are getting an improved home that is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and follows local building codes. Yet the design process is more than just having an architect rely on their skills and knowledge to create the sketches. It also counts on you communicating your home dreams and desires. That will help the architect create the vision that will make you happiest. When you are working with an architect, take advantage of these 4 things that you can do to help them do an exceptional job on your home design.

1: Have A Few Initial Ideas About The Design

To help the architect, it is ideal that you have a few design ideas and wishes in mind. They can take your vision and further refine it using their architectural experience and suggesting styles that will make your home look beautiful. If you have a hard time explaining the types of styles you like, you are always welcome to show photos, magazines, floor plans, and printouts of your ideas to the architect. Feel free to browse through the architect’s portfolio and point out the designs you like as well as the designs that you want to avoid for your home. Knowing both your likes and your dislikes allows the architect to move in the right direction for your project.

2: Tell The Architect About Your Budget

An architect doesn’t expect you to have a final budget amount set in stone. Yet they do need to understand a rough estimate of your financial resources that will be used for the project. Your budget will dictate the scale of the design, the materials that will be used, and the architectural strategies. In addition, an architect will suggest alternative methods and materials for your home design that you may not have considered that will help keep to your budget and thrill you with the design.

3: Ask Questions About Everything

Don’t be shy.  You have to feel comfortable about the home addition, construction or renovation plan. You’re the one who will living there, so you need to be happy. If there are details to the project that leave you scratching your head in puzzlement, ask questions. A big part of the architect’s job is to further explain the designs and plans so that you understand why the things are done certain ways.

An architect is there to change and refine the ideas into a working project plan. Architects also provide information in regards to permits, zoning codes, contractors and interior designs. They can work with you from start to finish on your new construction or renovation project.

4: Be Flexible And Trust The Architect

An architect’s job is more than just taking your ideas and making them a part of your home design. They also have to consider the mechanical system aspects of the construction or renovation.  That can include incorporating plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical work into the plans. In addition, an architect must always consider the structural integrity of the home when creating the plans.

At times, these things can clash with your ideas or force change to your original ideas. Have an open mind about the your design ideas and trust your architect. You will sometimes have to compromise looks for functionality and structural stability in order to have both a beautiful and safe home.

An architect seeks to please every client and make the final plans create a home that you will love. Following the above tips can make the architect’s job easier, help you further understand what the job entails, and allow everybody to work in harmony toward making your perfect home. Help them do a great job with your addition, home construction or renovation designs as they turn your home dreams into reality.

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Everything You Need to Know About Basement Remodeling

Basements often require a few extra steps to remodel, whether it’s fixing problems like standing water, plumbing or insulation problems, clearing out storage, or finishing up an unfinished basement before the rest of your remodel can begin. With so much to do before you can even begin the process of a normal remodel, basement remodels can cause a lot of stress and tension.

Here are our best tips for a stress-free basement remodel:

Take everything one step at a time
To begin with, we suggest a piece of advice that’s often given to anyone feeling stress about a project: Break the project up into steps and take it one step at a time. Instead of thinking about your remodel as one whole, giant project, break it down and think about each step—clearing out storage, cleaning, plumbing and electrical work, etc.—as its own project along the way. Try taking a break or celebrating after each step in the process is done, after all, each part in a remodel is a huge accomplishment. Knowing that you don’t have to do everything—or even think about everything—all at once can relieve stress and help you remain focused on the task at hand.

List out your top priorities
Before you start your remodel, understand that not everything you want in your new basement may be viable in your space or within your budget. That’s almost always the case with remodel projects, but don’t worry—it’s not the end of the world. Just make sure you know before you start what your top priorities are for your remodel, what would be nice to have, and what you don’t need.

Interview and hire a qualified contractor you can trust
Make sure you hire someone qualified and experienced to lead the charge on your basement remodel. Interviewing multiple contractors before making a hiring decision, taking recommendations from people you trust, and following up with references can help you hire someone you can trust to do a great job. And when you’re interviewing, look out for someone with good communication skills. The ability to communicate well can help reduce stress even when unexpected complications arise.

Set a flexible budget
When you inevitably set a budget for your remodel, make sure to do your research beforehand. Talk to friends and family who have remodeled before, as well as your contractor, architect, and anyone else who has experience with remodeling. And then, once you’ve thought of everything you’ll need to put in a comprehensive remodel budget, make sure to still leave yourself some room for unexpected costs to arise. Expecting the unexpected—and preparing yourself for it ahead of time—can save you a lot of stress, worry, and re-budgeting along the way.

Set realistic expectations
Our previous tips—listing out your top priorities, interviewing contractors, and setting a flexible budget—will help you with this last best practice for a stress-free basement remodel: setting realistic expectations. Knowing exactly what to expect in terms of time, amount of work, budget, and inconveniences during the remodel can help greatly with reducing stress along the way. Plus, if you have a family, it’ll help to set expectations for everyone in your household, including cleanup time, opening your home to workers, noise, and more. And even if you think you know exactly what it’ll be like, you should also remember to expect the unexpected, because no matter what, you can’t ever be completely prepared for a construction or remodel project. Sometimes, you just need to prepare to be flexible.

As you can see, it’s important to know what to expect when it comes to a basement remodel so that you can have the most stress-free renovation as possible. It is important to know, however, that your basement remodeling project may be hindered by several factors. Remodeling a basement can be tough, and many of a basement’s common features can stand in the way of creating a new living space.

If you’re intending to re-invent your basement space check out these 5 ways to solve some common basement remodeling problems:

1. Plan Around The Heater, Water Softener And Other Vital Home Components
If you’re remodeling a basement space you will likely have to work around several components that are vital to giving your home heat, hot water and sometimes clean clothes.

When remodeling your basement, choose efficiency over consistency. Put simply: Consider purchasing a smaller furnace, a corner-based water heater or a smaller water filtration system. Today’s models are often smaller and more efficient than those of the past. Chances are, you can greatly reduce your basement’s clutter in doing so—freeing up much-needed remodeling space. Moving these core components of your house’s “central nervous system” can be complicated and definitely require the involvement of experts, usually a plumber and possibly an electrician.

2. Dry It Out
As stated above, basements commonly contain water filtration systems, heat pumps and furnaces. Due to their closed-off design, basements commonly accumulate moisture and unwanted wetness. A basement is underground, and its closed-off design creates opportunities for dampness, humidity and otherwise meddlesome moisture.

Your ductwork, water heater and pipes should be well-insulated to protect your household. Fill foundation cracks, and look for ways to insulate. Sometimes, sneaky leaks will find their way into your basement. By sealing air gaps and leaks, you’ll insulate your basement. Similarly, running a dehumidifier directly reduces moisture. If you can’t identify the source of leaks you may need to contact a professional who can better locate any sources of water or moisture that care causing you problems in your basement.

3. Consider the Ceiling
Ductwork, pipes and other holding areas are often situated near basement’s ceiling. When remodeling, these areas can be a problem. They can be unappealing to the eye and pose serious design difficulties. If you’re remodeling your basement, you’ll need to consider the overhead space.

Many homeowners these days are adding basement bars. Often a bar utilizes overhead storage space. Wine glasses, towels and other materials work well in such spaces, and you need to consider how to best boost your redesign possibilities for the ceiling. Create a tray ceiling. These framed ceilings effectively reduce “pipe clutter” by hiding your basement’s utility resources behind the tiles. Additionally, you can create a frame and finish around low-hanging pipes or ducts that can add to the look your basement’s design style.

4. Check the Floor
Similar to the importance of ceiling detail, the details regarding your floor are also important. Think about the floor and what you’re planning to do with it. These days your options are endless. You could paint the concrete, put down tiles, choose a durable carpet or use faux wood flooring. It’s your choice. Make sure that your floor is up to snuff before you try to improve it. You may need to bring in a professional if you have a lot of large cracks or other defects that need correcting.

5. Re-Engineer Or Re-Design Your Support Columns
Your basement’s columns are needed for your household’s structural integrity, and they must be considered not only for aesthetic but also for safety. Unfortunately, support columns can be meddlesome, and they can throw off your design plans.

If previous remodels have created awkward column areas—or, if your basement’s support columns have been “in the way”, don’t knock them down! You should consult an architect before making any changes to these crucial parts of your house’s structure. If you can, work with the support columns where they are. There are many ways to create a pleasing look for your columns. You can make them part of the overall design strategy by either having them blend in or stand out. Use your creativity!

Once you get through these big logistic issues with basement remodeling it’s time to think more about the overall design and concept behind why you want to remodel in the first place. Creating a family-friendly space is a great option because it will benefit everyone in your home. When thinking about remodeling your basement, it’s easy to fantasize about a grown-up area of the house. How about a wine cellar, bar, or lounge? However, if you have growing children, grandchildren, or kids that come over frequently, consider a family-friendly basement instead.

Transforming your basement into a space for youngsters means containing both noise and play. You’d probably prefer children staying away from other parts of your home like the study, office, or bedrooms anyway. Besides, you can always turn the space into an exclusive adult area later on. Large basements can also handle multiple activities at once. Before you design your remodel, consider everything you want to use it for. No need to choose between relaxation and fun if you don’t have to. You can have a space that offers a television, video gaming, reading, musical instruments, ping-pong, and more. There should be something for everyone.

Depending on your family’s needs, there are plenty of choices out there to create the go-to place in your home. Here are some fun, family-friendly basement remodel ideas:

If fun activities make your family happy, then turn your basement into a sports zone. These spaces present a great opportunity for air hockey, ping-pong, pool, foosball, and other competitive table sports. Encourage skills and teamwork through these fun games that the whole family can play.

If you like the idea of having both adult and child areas, simply divide your basement into zones. For instance, put aside a spot just for kids. Here there might be a carpet or different wall colors to show them where the fun begins. Have toys readily accessible and child-sized furniture. Then, you can have the adult area nearby filled with comfy sofas, a television, and fireplace. This dual-purpose basement make it easy for everyone to feel right at home.

Older children
If you have teenagers or young adults around, your family-friendly basement needs to reflect their more mature interests. Have a workstation for study, instruments, game consoles, and trendy furniture. Teenagers can have their own space that also invites others to join in on the fun.

Mega family room
If you’re looking to fill in a huge, open space, consider installing a media center complete with game consoles, fireplace, and television, encased by a large sectional. Or perhaps a home theater with a lot of cushions so everyone can be comfortable. You could also think about making your family room self-sufficient with its own bathroom, microwave, counter, and stove. That way, no one has to keep running upstairs for more popcorn during a movie. Plus, you can always turn this area into an in-law suite or guest bedroom if needed.

No matter what design style or layout you want to go with, taking on a basement remodeling project requires a lot of planning and forethought. It’s important to consider all of the things that go into a remodel of this size. Knowing your budget, having realistic expectations, problem-solving when it comes to major structural components, and taking your family into consideration when designing the space are all things that will help you to have the best basement remodeling project.

An expert architect can guide you through all of these steps, creating a wonderful space that will be cherished for years to come. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our team today.

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Three Tools for Calculating Your Home Addition’s Cost

3 tools for calculating your home addition's costCalculating the cost of your home addition is important. Often, homeowners fail to calculate costs effectively—leading to financial mistakes and under estimation of total expense.

An addition may contain hidden costs, and maintaining your budget is among the most important parts of the process. When figuring your home addition’s cost, take advantage of these three tools. You’ll save yourself some problems by using them, and you’ll have a much better handle on the overall scope of the project.

Tool One: Cost Index

The Home Cost Helper Index contains a wealth of information relevant to home additions. Remodeling an existing house can cost more than new construction, as additions must be tailored around pre-existing conditions.

Take a look at the Home Cost Helper index to get a general idea what kind of budget you will need to consider before beginning a home addition project.

Of course your actual costs can vary widely, mostly based on where you live.  So you should consult local experts to get more realistic projections.  Architects and contractors can be a great help in this area.

Tool Two: This “Budget Equals Cash Plus Borrowing Power” Equation

When planning your project, make a list of all the building materials and equipment you can think of. Put the costs in an estimate spreadsheet. Increasing a home’s value requires an effective use of resources, and it requires an effective list to comprehend it all.

Understanding “borrowing power” is important. Your local mortgage lender can assist with your project’s valuation. They also can assist with borrowing. If you’re considering getting a loan—factor borrowed funds into your total budget equation. In the end, your equation should look like this:

Budget = Cash + Borrowing Power

Combining borrowed finances with total, spendable cash dictates your budget. Your total funds indicate your spending potential. Financing effectively is incredibly important for any home addition project.

Not only does it create a “safe building” environment, fiscally, it also helps create an accurate “home value” price. If you ever resell your home, you’ll have a literal shopping list of the items that went into building the addition and that can be a valuable sales tool.

Tool Three: Your Local Contractor

A general contractor is a wealth of material resources, information and skill. Professional assistance guarantees quality project management and that helps you maintain high-standard goals.

Additionally, your contractor understands industry regulations. He or she knows the “laws of the remodeling land”.  They can offer guidance that can help you save money in the long run.

When building an addition, your contractor can ensure that you are using the best materials for the job. While identifying costs is important, obtaining quality supplies is equally important. Contractors have been industry experts for years, and they can assist with all aspects of home addition projects including the all important cost aspect.

Why are Addition Calculation Tools Important?

Like any project, home remodeling consumes resources. Time, labor and money are these resources, and when you don’t plan, that leads to lost money, wasted time and poor execution. On paper, a remodeling project may look simple. It may look easy, too.  However, that is a misconception.  As with any project, planning is everything.

Approaching a home remodeling project with careful planning is important.  The structural planning and design planning is best left to the professionals like architects and contractors.  However the financial planning falls on your shoulders.

So prepare for your responsibilities and you will ensure that your home addition project stays on track and doesn’t break your bank.

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What You Don’t Know About Home Additions May Hurt You

What You Don't Know About Home Additions May Hurt YouBuilding an addition to your home is one of the most exciting things happening in your life as you are gearing up with ideas on what to do in the extra space. Yet before one design idea hits the blueprint, you need to sit down and consider if building a home addition is the right project for your needs. There are several factors to consider that could actually create numerous problems that you weren’t expecting. Here are several things to know that could actually make your home addition dreams turn into nightmares.

Zoning Restrictions

You may have a grand idea to add an addition to the front or the side of your home. Unfortunately, local zoning laws in your area could prohibit the size and height of the addition. Certain municipalities will have rules regarding the number of feet you have available to build in the front, rear and sides of the house. Also, there could be restrictions in place regarding how high you can build the addition, and how much impermeable material you can have on the lot. The moment that you decide to add on an addition, you need to go to your local zoning board to find out all the restrictions in your area that you will need to consider before creating the design plans.

It May Be A Poor Investment

You have to consider how the addition will change your financial situation. Building an addition can be one of the costliest projects to take on. You will spend more on an addition than on any type of remodeling task done to your main home, and you can get very little financial rewards from it. If you plan to sale the home, the addition could actually have a lesser value than what it cost to build it when compared to the values of other nearby homes with similar features that are on the market.

An additional factor to consider is that an addition will change the value of your home when it comes to paying taxes. When a new assessment is done to the home, you might find that the addition has raised your property taxes based on all the amenities you place into it as well as the increased square footage. This new tax liability could be beyond your financial means. Also, don’t forget that adding onto your home will raise your energy bill as you will have to heat, cool, and provide electricity to the new space.

The Addition Will Change The Look Of The Home

In you mind, you have a fabulous image of what the addition will look on your home. Yet once the addition is built, it changes the exterior appearance of the house so drastically that you wince at the sight of it. The top problem is that the addition looks tacked on instead of always belonging on your home as the mismatched appearance will be seen by everyone traveling along the road. A poorly designed addition can be avoided by having an architect draw up the design as you will be able to see what the addition will look like when added to your home.

Building An Addition isn’t A Quick Process

Many people are under the impression that building an addition is a quick process. It’s not like building an entire home. Unfortunately, an addition involves more than you think. Not only does the exterior of the addition have to match the exterior of the house, all of the interior mechanical systems have to match. The plumbing, duct work and electrical lines will have to be run through the addition. Based on the size of the addition, it could take several weeks to several months to complete the project. You will also have to take into account bad weather and contractor, or subcontractor, schedules.

By understanding all the factors that are involved with building an addition, you can make an informed decision on whether to tackle this project. Then you and your architect can create the additional space that you desire on your home.

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

Do I Need an Architect in NJ

When 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. Two of the biggest questions about home addition projects are Do I need an architect? and Why do I need an architect?

Here are some points that you need to take into account while planning your addition project and deciding if you really do need an architect or not.

New Jersey Laws Need to Be Considered
According to New Jersey law, all projects involving construction, enlargement, repair, renovation, alteration, reconstruction, or demolishment 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 the 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 buildings 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 others 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.

Many homeowners make the mistake of going straight to a builder when adding another room to their house. While hiring a builder is an important part of your room addition process, as mentioned above, it should never occur before a consultation with an architect. An experienced architect will formulate plans that will help you get the most out of your room addition. They’ll take every consideration into account and save you time, money, and frustration. We’ve given you some logistical things to consider when deciding if you want an architect or not, and now we want to tell you three main reasons WHY having an architect will make such a big difference for your NJ home addition.

  1. Your addition will complement your house
    You want your new room to fit like a puzzle piece with the rest of your house. One of the great things about hiring an architect is they’re able to be creative when creating your home addition plans. At your initial consultation, you’ll be able to share your ideas, goals, and desires. Your architect will know exactly what to do to help you. The following types of models can be used:
    • A custom design. A design that the architect creates specifically for you. Every detail is focused towards meeting your goals and giving you the perfect new room.
    • A stock design. Stock designs are extremely useful because they’re proven to work. Your architect will be able to show you a variety of stock designs. An experienced architect will be able to show you before-and-after stock-design photos of room additions to homes that are similar to yours.

Once you make your decision, sample home addition plans and blueprints will be created. Everything you want will be included in the plans and blueprints so you won’t be surprised when your room addition is completed. You also won’t have to worry about someone saying something can’t be done because you’ll have assurance from your architect that what you want is possible.

  1. You’ll receive help and advice
    No one knows the home-building industry better than an architect. Your architect will be able to give you contractor and structural-engineer recommendations. They’ll also be able to give you invaluable help and advice during your room-addition process. The following are some of the ways how your architect will help:
    • Stop in and check to see how work is progressing
    • Answer any questions your contractor or structural engineer has
    • Work with you if you want to make changes

This type of team approach ensures everything lines up properly and is completed on time. It also gives you peace of mind and eliminates frustration.

  1. You’ll save money in numerous ways
    An architect provides the leadership necessary to carry out a room addition in a timely, reasonable, and professional manner. Home addition plans and blueprints are created so contractors know exactly what to do. Time and money are never wasted. Additionally, your architect will incorporate things that will increase the resale value of your home into your room addition. Your new room will increase your home’s market value and will be very attractive to potential buyers. In this regard, an architect knows how to get the very most out of a room addition.

Choosing to hire an architect for your NJ home addition has many positives in terms of logistical things with your city, communication with a contractor and saving you time and money in the long run. With a New Jersey architect, leadership will be provided to help you and your contractor complete the home addition plans as you envision. Your finished room addition will add to the look and feel of your house and you’ll save money in numerous ways. Your decision to meet with an architect will undoubtedly be the best you make in your room-addition process.

If you have any questions about your NJ home addition or if you’d like to speak with a professional architect, please contact us today.

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Using Creativity and Unusual Ideas to Improve Your Home Addition

Using Creativity and Unusual Ideas to Improve Your Home Addition

Using Creativity and Unusual Ideas to Improve Your Home Addition

When 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 a 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.

Even once you’ve already hired an architect and had plans drawn up, you might notice some areas that you have overlooked. There could be some interesting details that you could add to make your addition even better. Here are some unusual ways to improve your home addition plans in some of the most beneficial and common areas of your home:

Kitchen expansions are common among addition seekers. They provide more space while adding some value to your home. Bigger kitchens also allow more cooking and storage space for avid chefs. Dinner parties are a lot easier with bigger kitchens.

Unique kitchen ideas:

  • Create a wine rack out of the kitchen island. Or add a pull-out leaf for extra seating or prep space.
  • Add a pull-out cabinet in your kitchen for extra space that can be neatly tucked away when not in use.
  • Outlets are also important to think about. You can hide them in drawers, cabinets, and even in strips running under counter overhangs. Unsightly charging wires won’t be missed.

Family Room
Adding on to your living room or building a new one opens up a world of possibilities. These spaces can allow families to relax and communicate in a peaceful atmosphere. Plus, the extra space means more room for more people—not to mention the value it adds to your home if or when you decide to resell.

Unique family room ideas:

  • If you’re adding a family room to your home, consider lowering the sitting space to make a bi-level room. This creates a cozy space for family and friends while expanding the look of the room.
  • During construction, it may be advisable to install an in-wall pest control system. This is just a series of tubes inside your wall that are connected to an outdoor service port. A material is injected into the tubes from the outside that eliminates pests without affecting the safety of residents.
  • Magnetize your walls with magnetic panelling. These are strong enough to hang shelves, tvs, and more. That way, you won’t have to use a hammer and nails, which could damage the walls. Plus, you can easily move and redesign the area without the hassle of covering up nail holes.
  • Now is a good time to think about outlet locations. Family rooms are a popular place for electronics and charging stations. Outlets could be in the floor, cabinets, on the mantle, or even the end tables.

Fortunately, bedrooms can be built up or out on existing homes. These additions are great for elderly family members or children living at home. Extra bedrooms also invite visiting family members to stay over during the holidays in comfort.

Unique bedroom ideas:

  • Whether you’re planning to build a bedroom on the second or first story of your home, you should consider access to the outdoors. For a first-story bedroom, sliding doors to a nice patio would allow anyone to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings. For a second-story addition, a balcony would add even more luxury to the room.
  • You can truly create a masterpiece with the bedroom ceiling. Often overlooked, ceilings are a great space to design and decorate. Having thick beams exposed definitely adds a unique atmosphere to the room.
  • Next, you can also choose to add a bathroom to this new space. A neat idea is to have a stone fireplace in the bathroom that also mirrors a fireplace in the bedroom. Plumbing and electrical considerations would definitely have to be handled ahead of time.

Unusual ideas for other areas of the house

  • You can install sun windows in any room to the house. These filter in natural sunlight, which adds warmth to any room. If in a bedroom, sun windows can provide beautiful and easy access to stargazing.
  • Before construction begins on an addition requiring a roof, you could decide to install solar panels. The benefits of solar energy are endless. For example, you’ll be saving money on electric bills while using clean energy that benefits the environment. Plus, the value and marketing of your home will increase. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, homes with solar panels can sell 20% faster and at a %17 higher value than homes without.

Perhaps you haven’t fully settled on a function for your addition. Here are some additional unique room uses that would truly add personality to your home:

  • Spa
    Turn that additional room into a spa. Since you’d have all the trimmings like a massage bench, candles, and soothing music, the masseuse can come to you!
  • Yoga
    Similar to a spa room, a yoga room can be created with floor mats, calming colors, and tranquil lighting. This room could afford the privacy necessary for deep meditation.
  • Coffee/Wine
    For that coffee/wine connoisseur, have a special room dedicated to the art of tasting and enjoying. A bar can be set up that handles the appropriate needs for keeping coffee or wine ready to taste.
  • Games
    A pretty obvious option, game or recreation rooms are great for children and their friends. If you have children, relatives with children, or grandchildren, adding one of these rooms would be beneficial to everyone. Or you could even turn this room into a putting green for miniature golf.
  • Music
    Keep all of your music memorabilia and instruments in one place. Listen or create music inside this room that should inspire creativity and fun.

There are many unique and unusual ways to improve your home addition plans. Talking with your architect about your ideal home pays off, especially when he/she offers valuable advice and suggestions. Architects are there to listen to your ideas, even the crazy—and creative—ones, while showing you possibilities that you may have not considered.

Hopefully some of these creative and unusual ideas have inspired you to think outside the box for your home addition plan, whether that be a kitchen, family room, bedroom or something else. These ideas are great starting points for building a unique and creative plan for your home addition.

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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.

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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.


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