Building a Home Addition

Author: Mark J. Donovan

Besides providing your home with more living space, a home
addition can be a terrific investment. However, before embarking
on such a project the homeowner should first consider several
important items. These items include: home market values in the
neighborhood, financing, size and scale of project,
architecture, timetable for completion, personal
disruption/inconvenience threshold and the sweat equity
commitment level.

Size of Addition and Market Value

Prior to actually breaking ground on a home addition, it is best
to first determine what you are looking for in terms of
additional living space. For example: How many square feet? What
types of rooms? Once this is understood, it is then important to
find out the market value of homes in the local area with
similar size and features to the new and improved home. With
this information the homeowner can then calculate the difference
between their current home market value and the new and improved
home market value. This difference should represent the maximum
budget for the new addition if a positive investment is desired.
For example, a homeowner would not want to spend $50,000 on a
new home addition that provides only $25,000 in increased market
value to the improved home.


The next important question involves how to fund the home
addition. Unless the project is being funded via cash/savings
then financing will be required. If current mortgage rates are
higher than the existing mortgage, then a home equity loan will
probably make the most sense. If current mortgage rates are
lower than the existing mortgage, then refinancing the entire
home, including the cost of the home addition project, may make
the most sense.

Architectural Considerations

Once the financial items have been addressed it is then time to
focus on the size and scale of the project, as well as the
architectural and aesthetics of the new addition. The addition
should be of size and scale such that it aesthetically melds
into the original house. It should not be too small or too big.
Frequently, homeowners get carried away and add large amounts of
new living space without sufficient thought on the outside
appearance. From a market value, there is more to a home than
just pure living space. A home needs to maintain its exterior
aesthetics as well. It is important to consider such items as
siding, doors, windows, rooflines, and elevations. All should
meld into the existing home exterior seamlessly and

If an architect is not planned for the project, then the
homeowner should at least make some sketches of the home
exterior with the new addition. The building inspector will
probably require them anyways during the permit process. Also,
there are many Home Design software packages on the market today
that can help create such drawings.

Schedule and Sweat Equity Commitment

The next two items that should be considered include the
timetable for completing the project and the homeowner sweaty
equity commitment level. Many homeowners assume they can do a
lot more than they are either skilled to do or have the time to
do. From personal experience, I would suggest contracting out
the site/ground work, rough framing, roofing, siding,
heating/cooling, and the drywall. All of these tasks require
skill, time and brawn. If local laws permit, electric and
plumbing may be tackled by the homeowner. However, both require
skill and can be life threatening if not performed properly.
Other tasks that a homeowner could tackle include installing
interior doors, finish trim, painting, cabinet installation,
tiling and hardwood flooring. Prior to a homeowner signing up to
any specific task however, they should first honestly assess
their skill and available time, and compare them to their
project schedule. If they don’t match, hire the contractor.

Threshold of Inconvenience and Disruption

Finally, a homeowner should consider their threshold for
inconvenience and disruption. A home addition, particularly if
it involves the kitchen, is very disruptive to today’s busy
lifestyles. It is also a dusty, dirty and noisy endeavor. In
addition, dealing with subcontractors can be challenging at
times. For a typical addition anticipate several months of
effort and inconvenience.

If after assessing all these issues you are still willing to
move forward with the project, contact your subcontractors, pull
your permits and get ready for an exciting time. For most
homeowners tackling a home addition is a positive experience
that provides both new living space and a great investment.

About the author:

Over the past 20+ years Mr. Donovan has been involved with
building homes and additions to homes. Mr. Donovan's formal
education and profession have been as an Electrical Engineer and
Marketing Manager.




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