How to create a home addition plan in minutesThere are a lot of stories that circulate about how the plans for a blockbuster product were sketched out on a cocktail napkin, or about the business that was established between bites at the greasy spoon. There’s even the one about how a lucky Las Vegas wager saved a company. But we all know those are the exceptions that prove the rule, right? Planning for a home addition can’t be done quickly, right? It takes lots of time, energy and money.

Well, not so fast! 

When it comes to sketching out preliminary ideas for a home addition, the basics can often be created in just a few minutes.  Chances are that first plan won’t look much like the final, finished rooms, either inside or out. All that’s really important in the beginning are the spatial relationships. A big room here, a view there; a fireplace; a wide hallway, the need for plumbing; a way to tie the new addition to the existing house.

Think of it as “doodling” with a purpose. Sketch out forms that have meaning, but don’t bother with specifics. Large and small circles or bubbles represent ideas that will take form and gain dimension at the hands of a professional architect, residential designer or draftsman. Two blocks separated by a smaller space could represent bedrooms separated by a connecting bath. A “bump” jutting out from the side of a block might represent the breakfast room of your dreams.

Block out the spaces

Get down on paper the ideas that you have in your head. Make notes about needs and wants, whatever they may be. Remember that the two are not mutually exclusive. Start lists, and edit constantly. Dream big; it’s easy to refine and define as long as plans are still on paper.  During succeeding phases, as you work with professionals, your first sketches will morph into working floor plans. And your dreams will coalesce into a working timeline.

This is when specifics come into play. Are you building up or out? Will the addition be a single room or an entire wing? Are existing systems — plumbing, heating and cooling, electrical wiring — sufficient to handle new needs? What about local requirements and zoning regulations?  Who will do the actual work? How much will it all cost? Am I out of my mind?

Moving on to reality

Every project entails the following:

  • The Big Idea
  • Specific Objectives
  • Inspirations and Lists
  • The Plan
  • Action
  • Completion

As you move from idea to action, there is a natural progression; each phase builds on the previous one. No single phase is the most important. At the very beginning, however, you will want to assess your reasons for wanting the home addition. Know that whether you plan to add a single room, or double the size of your existing space, there will be some disruption in your life. You will also have numerous small (and large) decisions to make. It can be an exciting and fulfilling process if you plan ahead and follow logical steps.

From little acorns . . .

Even though the tall tree of a successful home addition begins with a small kernel of an idea or a childish sketch, it will be nourished and strengthened by a great deal of input and support from the right professionals. In today’s world, there is an abundance of resource information and insight to access. Take advantage of it all: The Internet, design journals, local showrooms and suppliers, friends and neighbors, your city’s planning and zoning officials, mortgage lenders and real estate professionals, designers and architects.

So, yes, that home addition plan might take shape in just minutes, but it will take a little longer to get it finished!

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