Building a Home Addition: Four Things to Consider

Before starting on a new home addition, there are several important things to consider. You'll want to take your city's municipal codes, the foundation of your home, material selection, and other design decisions into consideration in order for your addition to be built smoothly. Please read the information below in order to educate yourself better about the four major things to consider before building an addition to your home.

The City's Requirements or Restrictions

The first critical step is to inquire at the local building department about any setback requirements. Many cities have building codes that include front yard, side yard, and rear yard setbacks. If a code calls for a 25 foot front yard setback, it means that no part of the residential structure can be built within 25 feet of the property line that abuts the street.

Additionally, building height limitations, floor area ratio, lot coverage ratio, and occupancy and usage classifications may impose some additional restrictions on the new structure. Sometimes, a vital part of your plan may not be in compliance with the building code, in which case a variance is the only option. Obtaining a variance from the building department is a long and costly procedure and should only be considered as a last resort.

The Foundation of Your Current Home

Another important consideration is the new addition’s foundation and how it will join to the existing foundation. If the new foundation disturbs or weakens the soil bearing the footing of the existing adjacent foundation, underpinning – which will incur a major additional expense – may be required. It is important to determine whether or not the addition's foundation will affect the existing foundation as further action or preventative measures will need to be put in place before the job begins.

Materials for the Addition

The appropriate selection and application of building materials is essential to the quality and appearance of the new addition. The objective is to integrate the new structure with the existing design style, using materials that are stylish, durable, and low-maintenance in a cost-effective way. Knowledge of the properties, usage, and availability of various woods and synthetics is extremely helpful when designing the exterior cladding and trim.

You may want to make use of energy efficient design practices that can reduce the structure’s energy consumption. The size and orientation of a glazed surface area, the installation of double glazed windows, and the appropriate level of thermal insulation will have a significant affect on heat loss, for example. Investing in new, alternative energy methods such as radiant heating might be worth considering as well.

Also, be aware that the requirements for the capacity of a septic system are often based on the size of the floor area or the number of bedrooms. An increase in living space may result in modifications to the existing system, requiring some additional site work and excavation.

Design Decisions

There are many minor interior design decisions that can greatly enhance the ambiance of the new space. Cathedral or vaulted ceilings, tiling or oak flooring, crown moldings and interior trim, wains-coating or wall paneling, electrical and lighting design, and the selection of appliances and fixtures all will contribute to the quality of life in the new addition. The items listed here are just a few of the issues to be resolved when undertaking any residential construction. You will undoubtedly discover many more during the course of the construction process. Thus, you should be prepared ahead of time with a particular design, theme, and necessary materials in order for the construction to progress in a timely manner.