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Remodeling Contractors May Be Hungry for Your Room Addition Plans

Remodeling Contractors May Be Hungry for Your Room Addition Plans

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February 19, 2010

Today's economy may have you thinking about building room additions rather than buying a bigger house. Fortunately for you, many remodeling contractors have incentives to sharpen their pencils on prices for building your dream room. Because your own budget is also a consideration, here's an approach to getting the most from your room addition plans:

  • Brainstorm with your family about the new room. Write down everyone's complete wish list.
  • Prioritize--mark a 1, 2, or 3 by each idea, with 1 being a top priority or first choice.
  • Create a drawing counting squares on graph paper, or use a homeowner's architecture program. Graph paper works just fine.
  • Measure any room furniture plus windows, doors, and other features that you want to go in the room, or choose furnishings from the computer program. If on graph paper, cut out items the size of the furnishings, label them, and stick them to the room addition plans with masking tape loops. Include one top priority from each person's list.
  • Brainstorm again about special finishes such as paneling, a bay window, or stonework for both inside and outside the addition. List and prioritize them.
  • Go outside and mark any irrigation, septic, or electrical lines in the building site.

Talk with Remodeling Contractors about Home Addition Costs

Are your room addition plans financially feasible for you? Here's how to get a ballpark figure of what your home addition costs may be:

  • Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations for licensed, bonded, and insured remodeling contractors.
  • Check with the Registrar of Contractors and the Better Business Bureau for any complaints or lawsuits.
  • Make appointments to meet the contractor at your home.
  • Show each contractor a photocopy of your final plan or printout.
  • Have the contractor inspect the area where you'd like to build.
  • Give the contractor your priority lists, and tell him or her what trade-offs you may be willing to make for your home addition. For example, "I'd give up the exterior stone facing rather than the fireplace inside."
  • Ask for a written ballpark price per square foot, based on using your top priorities versus the lowest priorities.
  • Also ask that studding and joist sizes, insulation, window and paint quality, size of crew, and time to finish the project be stated in writing.

The price per square foot may vary between contractors. And this is only a feasibility quote--unexpected issues or any changes you make can add to costs. If even the lowest price per square foot is a bit much, try to fall in love with your second choices.

About the author: Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and remodelled her newly-purchased home, working with contractors on the floorplan, electrical changes, painting, installation of wood laminate flooring, flood prevention walls and stonework, major drainage issues, an irrigation system and a landscaping. Researching and keeping up on issues and products related to home design and maintenance is an ongoing avocation.
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