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Room Additions

Room Additions

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The most important component in planning a room addition to your home is to determine the use for the space that you plan to add. Once you have decided whether you prefer a sun room, a play room, a game room, or an extra bedroom, the rest becomes much simpler.

With a clear vision of your expectations for the functionality of the space, you can relax with confidence knowing that your architect will be able to draw plans that accommodate your wishes.

Most common themes for room additions...

The most common home additions are sun rooms or patios, decks, game rooms, extra bedrooms, and dens. Porches and decks make great home additions. 2006 and 2007 mark the historical high for Chicago residential deck additions.

The weather in Chicago is absolutely beautiful during the summer months. Many people who live in the Chicago suburbs opt to take advantage of the short-lived warm months by adding a deck or patio for frequent friendly gatherings and conversation places for neighbors to convene.

Other homeowners choose to add a game room or den to their home. If there are more members of your family now than there were when you purchased your home, you may want to consider adding a den for the kids. With an additional den or game room, your children can watch Shrek II or play Connect Four with friends while you and your spouse enjoy the news or a movie of your own with a little peace and quiet.

When your children were young, sharing a bedroom with one another seemed fine with them, but as they have gotten older it has become an issue. Maybe adding an extra bedroom to your home will solve an abundance of sibling rivalry and save you from taking frequent trips to the medicine cabinet for Aspirin!

There are many functionality choices for room additions. The key to choosing the right one for your family is to determine where your greatest needs are and go from there.

Hiring an Architect

Once you have decided what type of room addition you would like to build, you will need to hire an architect to draft the plans for you. (Most cities require that plans for home additions are stamped by a certified and licensed architect prior to issuing permits).

Be sure to let your architect know the budget that you'd like to stick to and what your top priorities are regarding the layout of the room.

For example, if you want to add a game room to your home and it is really important to you to have a pool table, be sure to communicate this to your architect so that he/she is able to design your room addition with the size of a pool table in mind.

The last thing you want is to have pool cues poking holes in your brand new drywall and paint due to space constraints around the pool table! Discuss your budget with your architect before he/she begins to draw your plans. Remember, the contractor who builds your room addition will be using the plans as the "recipe" for construction. The margin for error in building increases greatly when plans are altered after they are finalized. Often, homeowners seem surprised by something that the contractor brings up as a point of confirmation.

For example, I was building a home for a couple in New Orleans last year and in conversation mentioned that they might have drainage issues due to the fact that there weren't going to be any gutters on the house.

They both looked at me like I was crazy because they had no idea that the plans didn't call for gutters. They certainly needed gutters. The plans had to be altered and from there about 15 people had to be notified in order to get the materials on time.

Knowing your plans is essential in getting your project completed on time. Thus, by accurately conveying your design ideas and expectations to your architect ahead of time, many potential oversights can be avoided. After finalizing your plans with your architect, you will need to hire a builder to construct your home addition.

Hiring a Contractor

Get three quotes from three different general contractors before choosing a contractor to build your room addition. When interviewing the three candidates, be sure to consider the following criteria:

  • Licenses
  • Obtain copies of all licenses. Check the dates to make sure the licenses are current.

  • Insurance
  • Obtain copies of general liability and workman's compensation insurance from the contractor candidates. Ask to be listed as insured on the insurance certificate for the contractor that you choose to build your room addition.

  • Ask each candidate for specifics on when construction on your project will begin and when it will be completed.
  • These will be estimates of course, but it is helpful to have an idea of when your project will be completed. Some contractors are booked out for months at a time. This may or may not weigh on your decision to hire.

  • Ask contractor candidates what hours crews will be working on YOUR remodeling project.
  • You may or may not have preferences regarding how early they begin working each day. The contractors' flexibility with scheduling might be important to you.

  • Ask for specific addresses and contact information for references.
  • Get at least three and actually call the homeowners! Your house is probably the largest investment you've ever made. Be sure that the people you hire to alter it's look are reputable and trustworthy.

  • Confirm each contractor candidate's payment schedule.
  • The payment schedule should be based on verifiable percentage of completion. Billing cycles may vary among contractors. Some invoice bi-weekly based on % complete. Some invoice monthly, some invoice in thirds based on % complete. Deposits should rarely be more than 10%.

  • Confirm who will need to obtain the permits for your project with the contractor that you choose.
  • Sometimes contractors will get the permits, but most of the time will charge extra for this service. Be sure to settle this ahead of time to avoid unexpected costs.

  • Get solid estimates.
  • Before giving any contractor the deposit to build your project, be sure to get a written and agreed upon estimate that includes the scope of work to be performed. You are entitled to know exactly what you are getting for the agreed upon price. Without this documentation, you risk potential discrepancies to a significant degree, about whether the contractor was suppose to - purchase the fixtures or not, and whether you stated that you wanted wood floors as opposed to ceramic tile. Preparing such detailed estimates for room additions requires more work on the contractor's end, but if he/she wants to build your home addition, he/she will gladly give the documentation that will make you comfortable. And, you won't have to worry about being asked for additional money that you weren't planning to spend.

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