Adding a room to your home is a daunting but rewarding task. The steps and costs involved in the addition may seem overwhelming, however, in the end the additional space will be worth it.
Some things to keep in mind when creating your room addition plan are:
Money: First you need to decide what type of addition is going to best suit your family’s needs. You start by figuring out how much money is in your budget. As a reference, adding a new bathroom or kitchen to your home can range in cost from $25,000 - $50,000 or $200 - $600 per square foot. When estimating the total cost of the project, adding 10% for contingencies provides a cushion allowing you to be confident if unexpected costs turn up.
The Architect: In planning and creating your addition it is important to find a great architect; one that listens to your needs, and is able to offer helpful ways to maximize your budget. One fail safe way of find the perfect architect is to obtaining references, and interviewing several architects. Having options and reviews of the candidate are great way to make sure that you are choosing the right architect for you and your project. Knowing how an architect organizes and manages a project can be a deciding factor of the architectural firm’s character.
Pro tip: Download our guide “How to Hire an Architect” at www.ds-arch.com/M616
The Value: Another thing to think about when planning your room addition is the potential value the addition adds to your home. The best way to make sure that your addition is adding value to your home is to consider amenities that are highly sought after in homes near you. One example of this may be if a majority of homes have large front porches in your neighborhood. A large front porch, being a popular attribute of a home, would add value to your home.
Zoning: Make sure to check the zoning regulations in your town. Most residents cannot build within 20 feet of the front of the property. Also, if expanding vertically you may need to check how tall you are allowed to build.
Blending: Finally, you want to consider how the addition will look with the rest of your home. A seamless transition from room to room is more aesthetically pleasing, and is more appealing to potential buyers. In addition, the interior and exterior materials should match.
Budgeting is a huge factor in any home improvement, remodeling or construction project. Looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality?
Here are 7 ways to limit room addition costs:
1. Build in the off-season: When you begin the construction on your home can affect the cost. Waiting until January can save you 4-5% on your investment. Because the winter months are slow for builders, they will have cheaper rates.
2. Receive early estimates: researching estimates and costs early on in the project allows you to know an approximate amount for the work you want completed. Additionally, interviewing several architects or builders allows you to compare prices and get the most out of your budget. Always be sure to factor in hidden costs in an addition such as: phone, cable, internet, furniture, window treatments and carpeting.
3. Keep it simple: keeping the design simple is another way to limit costs. Simple rectangular or square floor plans are less costly than more intricately shaped designs. Using easily obtainable materials is less expensive than custom materials.
4. Use recycled materials: less expensive and eco-friendly, recycled materials are a great resource when adding onto a home. Salvaged materials like brick, roof tiles, pressed straw paneling, cement composites and recycled steel are all materials available to use. Visit architectural salvage warehouse for doors, light fixtures, and windows.
5. Order online: shopping online is a great way to get cheaper accessories such as; kitchen faucets, bathroom furnishings, lighting, and window treatments.
6. Do it yourself: painting, landscaping and cleanup are areas of an addition project that do not require a person to be construction- savvy. If you are a little handy, researching prior to construction tasks such as; tiling and bathroom fitting will cut costs even more. Or, contracting these tasks out is a less expensive option than going through your builder.
7. Go green: in the short-run, including energy-efficient extras will increase your expenses. However in the long-run it will save you money. For example, solar panels on your roof decrease your energy bill; installing windows that allow for maximum insulation and light are a great way to save on heating and cooling. Additionally tax incentives are a plus when going green. When considering solar power, looking at the big picture of savings is more important then the initial costs.
Adding an addition to your home does not have to drain your wallet. There are multitudes of ways that you can cut corners without sacrificing quality. Considering the timing of the construction project, researching estimates, using recycled materials and going green are all ways that you can save thousands on your project.
Coastal and Wetlands projects – residential or commercial construction & development
In the New England region we have a lot of water – many homeowners with coastal homes. These sites are tricky – FEMA revised their maps in October 2013, raising the flood line in many communities.
What does this mean for you?
How do you determine how this affects your property?There are several issues you need to contend with if your home is in a coastal region, regardless if you have an existing home or are planning on building a new home. The first issue is the cost of insurance. Homes that are below the flood line (more on that later) will have to pay more for their insurance cost (another great way homeowners can be “underwater” /sarcasm mode off…). New homes, or homes that will be raised above the flood line need to conform to requirements (from FEMA, building code and possibly local zoning code, conservation code, etc…). These requirements include the height the building needs to be above the water (depending on the FEMA zone and other code requirements, it may be required to have the lowest floor just above the flood line, or even have the entire structure raised 1, 2 or 3 feet above the flood line). The foundation system is also critical and it’s design is predicated by FEMA’s requirements – they may allow a crawlspace or basement foundation, with provisions for allowing water to flow through (in zones with minor flooding issues) all the way to requiring homes to be raised on piles (allowing water to easily flow through under the home).
At David Sisson Architecture PC, we design homes in all FEMA flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHA are defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1-percent annual chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM, and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas outside the SFHA and higher than the elevation of the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood, are labeled Zone C or Zone X (unshaded).
In addition to having special structural and foundation requirements, homes that are coastal (or even inland properties that are adjacent to a wetland) have additional requirements for review by local or state conservation boards. In Rhode Island, the CRMC (RI Coastal Resources Management Council) and the RI DEM (Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management) review these projects. In Massachusetts the local conservation boards and also the MA DEM (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management) oversees these projects.
If you have a coastal or wetland property, please contact David Sisson Architecture PC, a Providence, Rhode Island full service Architectural firm. We will assist you with your home or development project. Frequently, you will need an Architect, Surveyor, Wetlands Biologist and possibly a Civil Engineer, Structural Engineer or other consultants depending on the size and complexity of your project.
Solutions may include raising your home, creating a new foundation beneath an existing home, installing flood vents into an existing foundation or building a brand new home above the flood level.
How to Avoid Bad Contractors
Of course, as an architect, I think it’s important that you choose a good architect. But your construction project – either residential or commercial – can be started with the best of intentions, yet destroyed by a bad, irresponsible or crooked contractor. Some of my clients have done many construction projects and are well equipped to select a competent and honest contractor, but many are building for the first time. You don’t want your building ruined or your construction budget to disappear. How do you protect yourself?
Step 1: Check their license. Having a license isn’t any guarantee they are an honest or competent contractor, but it is a start. Be sure to compare the contractor’s ID to the license. If you are in Rhode Island, check here:http://www.crb.ri.gov/search.php If you are in Massachusetts, check here first: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/consumer-prot-and-bus-lic/license-type/csl/information-on-selecting-a-contractor.html Do not hire a contractor without a license. Be sure also to check their lead license – this is required for work on older buildings – even licensed contractors who do not have a lead license are not allowed to do much work on older buildings.
Step 2: Look them up online – do a google search.
Step 3: Check public records for any judgments against them.
Step 4: Do a background check. It’s worth the small amount of money you may spend.
Step 5: Check their insurance. Do they have General Liability and Workers Comp? Are other types of
insurance required in your area? A contractor should have no problem getting you a copy of their insurance certificate – be wary if they cannot or refuse to.
Step 6: Select a local and established business – Unlike most industries, contracting is especially infamous for fly-by-the-night businesses run by independent contractors who may not feel as liable for their work because they don’t have an established office and can work from project to project. Even if they are dedicated to their work, smaller outfits that aren’t established may not be financially sustainable if projects go awry and can easily go out of business when they do, leaving the owners to foot the costs. Simply having a local business address with a local phone number where you can come and drop off a check is important for accountability in case if you have to come knocking on the door to get answers. It also indicates they are established enough to have adequate administrative support and customer service, which is often not that common in the industry.
Step 7: Check their references. A good contractor will be able to provide you an extensive (IE: long) list of references. Be sure to call these references (as many as you want, but at least 3) and even visit the projects to meet with the owners. It wouldn’t hurt to even ask the contractor to put you in touch with someone where the project didn’t go so well – to get the other side of the story. I can’t emphasize this enough: check their references. Check them on Angie’s List and the BBB as well.
Step 8: Get a written contract. Do not start work without it, and don’t pay any money until it’s signed. Talk is cheap and a bad contractor will try to hustle you into paying a deposit (or more!) before work has begun or a contract is signed.
You want a legally binding contract, with everything related to the work spelled out. That includes start and end dates, and even model names of, say, the cabinets or faucets. And a payment schedule.
Homeowners should beware of dealing with anyone other than the actual contractor or registered salesperson named on the license, Young said, and the bid and contract terms should always be in writing. The documents should include the contractor’s name, contact, and licensing information.
Among other things, the contract should require written work orders for any changes. Talk to your architect about helping you review a contract before it’s signed. They’ll probably point you towards an AIA contract to help protect you. Have the contract reviewed by an attorney if you are not sure about the “legalease”; if your expectations are not stated clearly in writing, do not go forward.
Review all aspects of the contract before you sign. Don’t assume certain specifics are included, such as appliance installation. Check that your contract includes a lien waiver, covering payments to all subcontractors who worked on the project.
Confirm the “punch list” procedure. Basically, this is how the contractor will deal with the list of small items remaining to be completed at the end of the job. Usually, the solution will be that you withhold some of the payment until everything is complete.
Step 9: Check on worker’s compensation. A contractor may have a worker’s comp policy for one or two workers, then show up at your house with a larger crew. Be sure to call their insurance company to see who’s actually covered. In the event of an injury, your homeowner’s insurance may not help with a worker’s medical bills, especially if the contractor is unlicensed. Also make sure you understand the limits of your own homeowner’s policy.
Step 10: Hold on to your money. Don’t pay a large deposit or even worse, pay the entire amount before work has begun. Payments should be incremental and not get ahead of the work. The total should not be paid until the job is complete. In the end, a state contractor’s license doesn’t guarantee that a project will come off without a hitch. Talk to your architect about pay applications and retainage – these are methods that the architect can use to help make sure your payments go smoothly.
Step 11: Get more than one proposal/estimate – get three or four; compare the written proposals/estimates; measure what kind of people they are by your personal interaction; you need to know, like and trust the contractor you are going to hire; if you cannot say you know, like and trust the contractor, look for someone else.
Step 12: Go with your gut – if you do not feel right about something, if something just is not jiving, step back and put the brakes on; it is easier to stop and switch horses before getting into the stream, than to try to switch horses midstream; if you do not have confidence, do not go any further; find someone else. Likewise, just because someone gives you a “good feeling” you should STILL do your homework to determine if they are a good contractors.
Step 13: Hire a general contractor instead of many sub contractors. Once you know what you want done, consider what you realistically can accomplish on your own. For larger projects, especially those that may involve more than three different service providers, a general contractor to oversee your project may be required.
Step 14: Get your permits. You, and your contractor are required by law to get permits for general construction and often electrical, plumbing, HVAC and possibly other trades. Be sure your contractors get the permits themselves, as this makes them responsible for the work. If you get the permit, then you are responsible instead of them. Having the permit gives you more recourse in the case of things going wrong. It’s very difficult to solve problems on projects that are done illegally.
Step 15: Don’t be afraid to stop or temporarily halt a project that’s not going well. It’s your project and you are the one paying the bills.