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Adding a New Room

Like your house and where the street you live on is but tight on space? It can make more sense to add on to your house rather than going through the expense and trouble of finding a new home and moving. Be aware, however, that some house additions are more desirable than others. Adding an extra bedroom and/or bath (especially a master bedroom suite), putting on a first floor family room, or increasing the size of your existing kitchen are all additions likely to recoup much of their costs when the house is sold. However, additions to accommodate highly personalized hobbies can actually turn into liabilities unless the room can be easily converted to a more common use.

If you have decided to add a room to your house, consider the following:

  • Make sure that local building codes will allow you to put on the addition you want. Consult the appropriate government agencies before you proceed with your project -- you may have to learn about set backs, square footage limitations, and design review boards. Also, be aware that local codes may require you to update other parts of your house, including its heating, plumbing, or electrical systems, as part of the process, so find out the specifics early on.
  • Decide how much you want to spend. A little research will give you an idea what the materials for your addition may cost. Start with a wish list of everything you desire for your room; then decide what you really need to have. It is very important not to over improve your house: your addition should not make your home too big or expensive for your location.
  • Determine whether you will need to hire an architect or if a general contractor can handle the project. The larger and more complex the addition, the more likely you will need the services of professionals such as architects or structural engineers. Design/build firms offer the convenience of one stop shopping for all the skills required -- including help with the decorating -- but they tend to be more expensive.
  • Decide who you want to hire to build your addition by asking friends and neighbors about contractors they have satisfactorily worked with. Be sure to check out projects they have completed to make sure your standards will be met. Check references, get all estimates in writing, and read all contracts very carefully before signing them. You should probably get estimates for the project from three contractors. It is often a mistake to select the cheapest one. Any change orders during the process should also be in writing. Remember that the relationship between a home owner and a residential contractor can be highly personal.

Be realistic about how long it will take to build your addition. Adding a new room to an older house often turns up problems that no one can foresee. Start your project well in advance of any important occasion you are counting on celebrating in it

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