With the housing market being extremely hot right now, it is imperative to make the most of your home purchase. Buying in the neighborhood of your choice could also mean you are going to compromise on something else. If you’re buying a home that needs a little stretching in terms of living space, you can consider building an addition. This project can also help you down the line when you might grow your family and the need for extra space will be inevitable. Creating new square footage for your home is a challenging process, but it can be done.

Here are some steps you can take to expand your home square footage through an addition:

1. Assess why you need an addition

Before you embark on this project, think about you want to build an addition: is your family growing and in need of more space? Or perhaps you bought a home and realized it wasn’t large enough for your needs. Perhaps having that extra guest bedroom will provide you with a value that you and your close ones can enjoy for years to come.

2. Consult with a real estate agent

If you’re not sure which way to tackle the issue of adding extra space to your home, you could get the opinion of a local real estate agent. If you’re hesitating between adding a playroom or expanding another area of the home, their advice could be extremely valuable.

Increasing the square footage of the master bedroom will increase the return on investment in case you decide to sell. It’s important to also consider home values in your neighborhood to make sure that you’ll be able to recover the costs in case you decide to sell.

3. Decide on the type of addition you want and its cost

Adding square footage to your home will cost you from $80 to $200 per square foot, according to homeadvisor.com. Layout, materials used, and the type of structure make a huge difference in the project’s final cost.

Some of the most popular additions are the kitchen and the bathroom. Having a large kitchen where you not only have enough room to cook but also enough room to entertain can be any homeowner’s dream. Adding a new kitchen can cost anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000. Moreover, a bathroom can equally be useful to any household and can increase the value of a property. Building a new bathroom as an addition can cost between $25,000 and $75,000. They require plumbing and fixtures, which can make the price per square foot higher than a kitchen.

Other popular additions include a garage, home office, mudroom or sunroom. Ultimately, the right project for you is about balancing your needs and your budget. Once you decide on the project, make sure to set aside extra money for unforeseen costs. Additionally, plan for increased insurance quotes once your home increases its square footage.

4. Have the plan ready and get a permit

Once you know what type of addition you want to build, work on the planning. Enlist the help of an architect – it never hurts to consult a professional – to make sure you get the best project for your home in terms of structural safety, plumbing, ventilation and wiring. Next, check with your local planning department to make sure your addition abides by local zoning laws. Additionally, if you’re part of a homeowner’s association, you should also check with them to approve your plan.

5. Tackle financing

If you’re still making mortgage payments for your home, you should let your mortgage lender know about your future addition, as you’re not entirely owning the home yet. Additionally, if you need the funds to cover this project, you can consider a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Ideally, by this point, you’ll have covered 80%-85% of the home’s assessed value to make sure your bank approves your new loan.

If you follow this route, you’ll get an appraisal of your home, which comes with a fee. However, assess your financial situation before resorting to another loan to make sure you’ll be able to keep up with all your upcoming payments.

6. Find a contractor

While DIYing has become extremely popular, a home addition is a type of project best left to the professionals. A contractor knows how to tackle this type of project, which is why it’s better to take this route. Get recommendations from friends, neighbors and acquaintances to help you find the right one for you. Once you find one, take the time to have a conversation about the project, the envisaged timelines, design concerns and even cost-saving solutions such as incorporating green sources of energy to help you cut down on future expenses. Make sure to sign a contractual agreement listing out the cost breakdown and scheduled payments. 

7. Make plans before construction begins

A home addition is a huge project which will temporarily change your day-to-day life. Here are some areas where you need to plan:

  • Pets

If you have pets, it might be difficult to keep them in an enclosed area to separate them from the construction crew. Even if you do have enough room for them, construction noise might be too stressful for them. Plan on having them go to a pet daycare or have friends or family care for them for the duration of the project.

  • Home items

You might need to free up some space near the construction site to allow the crew to do the work. Your furniture and other items sitting in that particular area will need a home while construction is ongoing. Instead of cramming it all inside your home, you could put it in storage. Most people rent a 10’x10′ storage unit, which can fit the contents of a large living room or two compact bedrooms.

  • Excavation prep

Since a home addition is a major construction project, some excavating might be involved. Make sure to call 811 to have them do the work. This will help notify utility companies close to the project area. They can come to mark any buried cables, electric cables or gas lines to avoid damaging any of them through the course of the project.

8. Post-construction steps

Assuming the contractor tackles the rough construction side of the project – including building the foundation, framing the structure, adding the sheathing and roofing (if necessary) and installing windows and doors – the electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems also need to be addressed. This work is done by plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians. However, this part of the project will not take much, as each task takes a day or two to complete. Next, flooring and cabinetry are to be installed, and walls need to be painted, whether you decide to have carpenters do this job or you prefer to tackle it to cut down on the costs.

9. Check the punch list

When you’re taking on building a home addition, you create what it’s called a punch list, or a list of all the steps that need to be done for the project to be complete. These also include the finishing touches that were perhaps postponed while more time was dedicated to the more difficult task. Take the time to go over this list with the contractor to make sure the project is complete, and the space is now truly usable.

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