Home Additions: Do You Need a Special Permit Before Proceeding?



It is a lucky homeowner who has a large enough lot to permit the building of an addition. Building an addition can add square footage to the home and add value when it is time to sell. But, the addition must be well designed and properly built. It should blend with the house and look like it has always been there. The addition should be designed in a way that makes it easily accessible from the rest of the house. When a homeowner goes to the trouble and expense of building an addition, it should be large enough to improve the livability of the house.

Choose a Contractor

A home addition will require building permits and work by licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, foundation experts, framers, roofers, and so on. A good contractor, such as Wildwood Roofing and Construction, can take care of overseeing all of these subcontractors. The roof should flow from the existing house with a perfect match. The foundation must be extended for the addition at the same level. The siding and trim on the new addition should also match the rest of the house. And, the addition should be the correct shape and proportion for the house to look attractive. Set a firm budget, and get a work contract with the pricing spelled out.

Choose a contractor who is experienced in building home additions, has good customer ratings, and can give you a list of homes to drive by. An addition can go out from the house increasing its footprint or it can go up, making the house taller. A single-story home can be changed into a two-story home. A good contractor will help the homeowner choose the best alternative and then design addition and oversee the building process.

Permits will be needed before the construction begins, and inspections must occur as required at different stages of the project. The contractor will be responsible for obtaining building permits and scheduling city inspections during the building process.

Building Out Vs. Building Up

Building out increases the footprint of the house and requires a larger lot. Expanding outward from the first floor usually involves adding to a kitchen, adding a family room, or other space to a one-story house. These additions can be as small as a bump-out or as large as the available space and the family requirements. A home addition can be one floor or two stories. A homeowner can double their square footage with a two-story addition. Building out is less disruptive to the family living in the house.

Building out involves using a backhoe to dig up the space where the addition will go and prepare the ground for a new slab or foundation matching that of the home. Then, the walls will be built and the roof will be added. When the addition is closed in, the adjoining house wall will be opened up. At this point, the old and new spaces are linked, and the house's electric and plumbing services will be extended into the addition. Now, the interior finishes are completed and the exterior is finished to match the existing home.

Building up can involve adding a second floor to a one-story house or adding large dormers to the second floor or an attic. Another build-up choice is to add a second floor to the attached garage. These addition choices do not add to the footprint of the home, so they are good for homes with small lots. The contractor will need to beef up the home's foundation and some wall structure to carry the additional weight. There may be a loss of first-floor space for a stairway to the new second floor. Adding a new second floor will require removing the home's roof and adding a new roof to the finished addition. First story walls may be torn up to feed the second story the electrical, plumbing, and heating lines.

The New Roofline Must Be Right

No matter which type of addition a house is getting, the roof will be involved. Some additions are at the gable end of the house and the existing roofline can simply be extended. But, additions that are at the front or back of the house can be more complicated when it comes to roofing choices. Many additions are at a 90-degree angle to the gable. A shed roof is a simple solution where the roof of the addition is sloped to meet the existing roof. This roofing solution is simple and cost-effective but can make the addition look a little obvious.

A gable roof consists of two roof slopes on the addition with a peak running down the middle. Done correctly, this is an attractive roofline that will add interest to the home. Dormers have small roofs that project out at 90-degree angles to the existing roof. The dormer usually has one or two windows and can add interest to the roofline of a house. The success of dormers depends on the correct proportions and design.

Living in a Home While Construction is Going On

Some people move out of the home while the construction is in progress. But, what if that is not possible? Experts suggest a few precautions and steps to make the process easier. Plan on there being a huge mess and damage to the landscaping that will need to be repaired when construction is complete. Outside, you should remove children's toys and outdoor furniture so nothing will be in the way of the contractors and their machinery.

Inside the home, the family should cover flooring in all traffic areas to prevent damage, move furniture out of any affected rooms, and tape sheeting or tarps over any doorways near the construction to limit the spread of dust. Keep small children away from the construction areas and safety hazards. Plan in advance what to do during construction that may involve the kitchen or a bathroom. Find out when power or water service may be interrupted so you can plan for that inconvenience.

With good planning and having the proper permits in place, an addition can go more smoothly, and the added space will be wonderful when it is completed. A good contractor will do everything they can to limit the inconvenience to the family and finish the construction as quickly as possible.