5 Questions to Ask When Embarking on a Home Addition Project

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A home addition is one of the more intense and exciting home renovation projects you can embark on. Along with adding value to your house, it will provide you with the extra space to keep you and your family comfortable and happy for years to come.

As with any major renovation project asking the right questions early and preparing a proper budget are key to ensuring the renovation goes as smoothly as possible.

Before you get started on your home addition, be sure to ask yourself these important questions:

1. What Type of Space Are You Trying to Achieve?

Adding an addition to your home should be an investment in your future comfort and health. Before you start planning for one, be sure to spend the time considering why you want to embark on this massive project:

  • Am I trying to add space to existing rooms? If so, how do I want to use the space?

  • What would the function be of an additional room? Am I willing to compromise on size?

  • Do I want to add more bedrooms or washrooms?

  • What key features am I trying to add to my home?

  • Is this a family-friendly home addition?

  • Could the reasons for desiring a home addition be achieved in cheaper ways?

  • How will it impact the possible future sale of my home?

It is worth considering other options for making improvements to your house short of a home addition. Other ways of gaining space in your home include finishing a basement, knocking down some dividing walls or adding a bump-out.

If you can achieve your goal without building a major addition you can save a lot of money and construction.

2. Is It Smarter to Build Up or Out?

The decision to build up or out depends on how you want to improve the space in your home, how much yard space you have, and city bylaws.

If you plan to add a floor to your house, you must make sure the existing house and foundation will handle the weight. A building engineer or contractor will be able to assess this for you.

Building out means sacrificing some of your yard space. This might be acceptable if your goal is to increase the size of your kitchen and there is no excess first floor space within your house.

Another consideration for choosing a vertical or horizontal expansion is to ensure that your addition doesn’t stick out, literally or figuratively. A well-planned addition will blend in with the rest of the house. Making your house an eyesore in the neighbourhood can decrease its resale value.

3. What Key Features Do I Want to Add?

You may have architectural features or interior fixtures in mind for your addition, all of which need to be factored into the planning.

External Features Can Include:

  • A New Facade

  • Siding

  • Windows and Doors

  • Roofing

  • Stone or Brick Work

  • Dormer

Interior Features Can Include:

  • A Fireplace

  • Flooring

  • Built-Ins

  • Skylights

  • Doors

  • Lighting

  • Vertical Herb Garden in Your Kitchen

  • Spiral Staircase

4. What Is Your Project Budget?

A home addition is a costly project, and you will need to ask yourself a few questions before establishing your home renovation budget:

  • How long do I plan to stay in the house?

  • Can I afford the cost? How will it affect my lifestyle?

  • Am I confident that the return on investment is significant enough to spend this amount?

As with any construction project, it’s good to expect the unexpected. The project could face unforeseen costs or take longer than anticipated. You should always have an additional 20% buffer on top of the estimate to take care of these snags.

Home additions are often financed through a bank in the form of a loan or tacked on to your mortgage. The more equity you have in your home, the more likely you are to qualify. The bank will make their decision based on how much cash you will put into the project and how likely it is to increase the value of your home.

5. Are There Building Restrictions and Bylaws to Consider?

Before you can build your dream home addition, you’ll have to make sure the zoning bylaws of your neighbourhood permit it. Bylaws control the maximum dimensions of a home you can have on your property, yard size, landscape requirements and parking restrictions.

You will also need to consider the natural features on your property such as trees. Many municipalities often require permission from a conservation authority before they can be removed or trimmed back.

In all cases, you’ll have to apply for permits from your city by submitting construction plans before embarking on any major home addition.

For more information in the City of Toronto, read their guide on Small Residential Additions.

Bryant Renovations - Improving Your Home by Adding On

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At Bryant Renovations, we have been working to improve Toronto homes since 1986. Our design/build process includes working with you to plan a dream renovation within your budget and within city bylaws.

To view some of the ways we’ve transformed people’s homes, be sure to take a look at our Project Gallery.