- Exhaust All Other Options First
Room additions should not be your first option; they should be your last. Due to the price and complexity of building a room addition, it is in your best interests to exhaust every possible solution to your space and living issues—before undertaking this project.
- Get the Contractor Right
With other home remodeling projects, you take less of a “hit” if you get the contractor wrong. Was it a sloppy paint job in the family room? Did your new crown molding fall down? Bad thing there—and you have our utmost sympathies—but you’ll get over it. Hound the contractor, sue him, get a new contractor, or do it yourself. It’s fixable.
But with a room addition, there is far less wiggle room. The costs are high, timeframes are extended, and the willingness of the contractor to come back and fix what he did wrong will be limited. So, you owe it to yourself—and to that huge home equity loan you’ll be taking out—to get the contractor right. And this means…
- Do Not Get Three Estimates
Aren’t three estimates sacred in home remodeling? Sure, if you’re laying a floor or building a patio. For your room addition, three estimates aren’t enough. Rack up as many estimates as you can stand. Take this test:
Get three estimates. Average them out. Then get seven or eight more estimates. Now calculate the average of all ten or eleven. Chances are good that your average estimate spread out over ten individual estimates will be much lower than your previous one.
- Consult a Realtor or Appraiser
Are you putting on the room addition purely for your own benefit? Or do you care about resale value when it comes time to sell? Even though you cannot do things just for the benefit of some nameless, faceless potential buyer sometime in the distant future, you do need to give some thought to resale value. Not all room additions give back adequate resale value. A Realtor will be able to tell you how this added square footage (and the type of square footage you’re thinking of) will benefit you in the long run.
- Realize that You’re Building a Mini-House
A room addition involves all of the same things that you find in new home construction: foundation, footers, framing, zoning, permitting, HVAC, flooring, plumbing, electrical, new windows, etc. The list goes on and on. Even if you are building a great room or living room (i.e., a room addition without services such as plumbing), you’ve still got other services that you cannot avoid (electrical, heating, cooling, and more).
- Learn to Think in Terms of Square Footage Cost
Room addition building is complex. The only way to make sure you are comparing contractor estimates on a level playing field is to compare on a dollar-per-square-foot basis. But you’ll want to make sure that all contractors are bidding on the same thing, or your square footage cost comparisons will be all wrong. So, make sure that all contractors give you an itemized estimate.
- Beware the Sunroom
Sunrooms are attractive. They cost less than full-scale room additions, and they appear to give you just as much square footage. But sun rooms, also, are just that: sun rooms. They do not have plumbing, showers, bathtubs, toilets, and other essential services. In fact, many sun rooms don’t even have basics like insulation and double-glazed windows.