Helpful Pointers Homeowners Should Consider Before Deciding on an Addition

Timothy Clites of Clites Architects, PC and designer Jana Neudel of Terranova Construction Kitchen and Bath provide tips for any homeowner looking to add on to their home.

Terranova Construction Kitchen and Bath renovation in Oakton.
Photo courtesy of Terranova Construction Kitchen and Bath.

-Hire a professional contractor who is familiar with the building codes in your area. Updating work that does not meet code can be expensive.

-A well-written contract can prevent costly mistakes or additions to the scope of your project. It is a critical step in maintaining your budget.

-Save money by planning ahead. Go through the design process first and choose everything you want to include in the new room(s), from appliances to light fixtures, etc. This will define your budget and prevent hasty (and costly) decisions later in the project. Be sure to include all your product and material selections in the contract to avoid confusion and unnecessary change orders. Include the model, size, color and other specifications. It is also wise to save 10-20 percent of your budget to allow for items added to the scope of work.

-That said, do your research. Ask around to get a realistic budget. But be aware that other costs may arise as the project moves forward, like a change in design or the need to move gas or electric meters.

-Be creative. There are often multiple solutions to accomplish a design objective, some more expensive than others. Discuss various options with your contractor.

-If all the room really needs is a facelift, make the most of changes with paint, as opposed to structural changes. Changing the color of a room can revitalize it. This is the easiest way to bring life to a room on a budget.

-Creating more space can be a big budget buster. Once you add square footage to a home, the price increases significantly. One alternative is to borrow space from a neighboring room (called space reconfiguration). A great place to steal space for a bathroom expansion is from the linen closet. You can make up some of the lost storage by finding small spaces in between wall studs for small niches or built-in shelves.

-You can also try borrowing space with optical illusions. There are many ways to make a small room appear larger. To transform a small bath, install a bow window or a skylight. Vaulted ceilings can be a nice touch, too.

-If you are going to expand outside the existing home, consider a small bump out of two to four feet. This may allow you to cantilever the floor joists and eliminate the need for excavation and foundation. If possible, be careful not to extend beyond the roofline, which might require a new roofline to your job.

-A few things to note: Is the home in a historic district? Is there a homeowner’s association? Is the intended addition heading in a direction that may be getting close to a property line?

From Middleburg-based architect Timothy Clites, designer Jana Neudel in Vienna and National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).