Before jumping into a project with a contractor, you may want to consult with an architect. You may not need the architect’s full services, but they may be able to help with the design phase and make sure the addition will work and complement the existing structure. Also, having some drawings really helps the contractor put a budget together for the owner. The more complete the set of drawings are, the more accurate the budget will be.
Louis Wamp, Louis Wamp, Architect & Associates, Inc.
First and foremost: spend your money where it will bring the most return when you sell your home. You can’t go wrong with kitchens and bathrooms. Adding on that big bonus room for the kids might be on your wish list, but will it bring a good return when you sell? Swimming pools, decks, and hot tubs might be great for you, but they are generally a liability when selling. Also, is your home structurally and mechanically able to support your intended expansion or remodel? Check with an architect who is associated with structural, electrical, and mechanical engineers to determine the feasibility of your ideas. Often, the first thing we find ourselves doing in the design of an addition or remodel is to identify and demo any “re-muddling” done by a previous owner.
Paul Vaughn, P.E., President, GenTech Construction
When adding on to your existing home, in my experience there are four common sense things to keep in mind to maintain low costs and high satisfaction when working with your architect and builder. First, coordinate the past with the present. Second, make a plan and be certain about it. Don’t second guess once you have started. Third, collaborate with your architect and builder. Get them in the same room together to work through plans. Fourth, use experienced professionals. No one can predict what is behind a wall, but experienced builders are more accurate.
Clay Henley, Henley Brothers Construction Company
Start with a budget first. Then, your first phone call should be to an architect to get drawings. A good architect can help you draw up plans that fit your budget and that will create a seamless look and use authentic materials. Also, keep in mind that you might have to upsize HVAC, septic tank, and electric.
John Coffelt, HGH Construction
Jonathan Bailey, HGH Construction
When consulting with a prospective client, we find ourselves offering the same advice no matter the size or scope of a project. Though it may seem like common sense, we recommend that you start with a reputable, licensed contractor, who will pull a permit for your project and provide a written contract with exhibits that include describing the project in three dimensions – a plan, a budget, and a written scope of work. With those items in place, it’s hard to end up somewhere you did not plan to be at the end of a project. Do as much planning and finalizing of decisions for your project, including all the cool features and fun frills that will make it your own, on the front end of your project before the first shovel of dirt is turned. It’s never a good idea to start a project without a plan, a budget, and a firm grasp on where you are headed.
Ethan Collier, Collier Construction
The most important item to consider is the context of the neighborhood and the style of the home. On a street with single-story bungalows built in the 1930s, adding a second story addition might look patched together and poorly designed. Secondly, review the zoning regulations. Always have a survey completed early in the design process by a licensed surveyor. Third, engage a contractor early. A contractor brings expertise on things like cost and feasibility. They will also assess electrical, structural, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems to see how they will be impacted by the addition.
Jay Caughman, Caughman+Caughman Architects
Once you have exhausted all the possibilities of renovating your existing space to accommodate your needs, and you definitely need to expand, think about the large issues first. The first thing I look at is roof lines. I don’t want the addition to look as if it was tacked on without any planning. Rather, I want it to look like it has always been there. Another important factor is the flow and circulation from the existing house. I don’t want to just stick a room on the side of the house with a door that goes into it. I like to think about how the new space is going to be experienced through the new interior sight lines that are being created. Address the larger items like these first, and resist the urge to jump ahead to selecting the finishes.