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How to make a home extension plan

Last modified: 2021-08-11 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

There are plenty of reasons to feel like the home you own isn’t quite fit for your needs. Maybe space is an issue, and you have a growing family or a growing furniture collection.

Possibly, you’ve decided to work from home permanently and need space for an office or potentially you’d like to add a home gym, laundry room or garden. Whatever the case, a home extension is an excellent option if you’re lacking space and looking to add a few square feet. 

Of course, homeowners who aren’t well versed in architecture or interior design may find the initial stages of this project challenging: how do you approach it? This article will offer a breakdown of how to create your home extension plan and take on this exciting chapter in your life!

How to make a home extension plan

interior home extension

1- Budget and permits

First things first, let’s begin by determining how much a home extension will cost. When taking on larger renovation projects, it’s important to stay within a clearly defined budget. Do remember to offer yourself a little bit of leeway for any mishaps or changes, as these are common in almost any renovation project. A budget can be clearly defined once you figure out a number of key aspects including:

  • shape and size of the extension ;
  • the materials you’ll be using ;
  • the contractors, architects or designers you’ll hire ;
  • the construction system or process you’ll adopt ;
  • if the project is turn-key.

Once these factors have been determined, you can gauge a better idea of an overall budget. One of the easiest ways to lay out a baseline budget is to calculate a cost per square foot. Do be mindful of the current and ongoing shortage and price escalations of materials as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s also very important to understand the time and preparation that will go into such a large project. Plenty of research should be done before the start and this will include figuring out what permits you’ll need. Permits will differ from municipality to municipality. It’s paramount that you apply for these well before your projected start date, while also setting a realistic time period for this project. Going into this project as well prepared as possible will mean you’re properly equipped to take on the challenge.

Do you need more information on the cost of a home extension project? Check out our article The Cost of a Home Addition Project.

2- Types of home extensions

You’re likely already aware of the type of home extension you plan on building, but we’re going to go over the 3 main types to offer a coherent understanding.

Building up: As you may have guessed, this type of addition means adding space to your home vertically. In general, this is done by adding a floor where the roof is currently, and thus, will involve tearing the roof off. Once a second story is built, you’ll build a new roof on top of it.

Building out: As with building up, building out involves adding space to the back, side, or front of your home. This is done by following the existing foundation to the back or side. Of course, you will need to install a new foundation in the place where you’re putting the extension.

Detached: A detached unit can take on many forms including guest house, office, studio, garage or liveable carport. These spaces may also be primarily dedicated to storage. In most cases, they do not require a foundation underneath.

home extension exterior

3- Contractor, architect or both?

Now the time has arrived to determine who you plan to work with and hire for your home extension. For most homeowners, taking on this project alone isn’t viable. Instead, we’d recommend hiring a contractor, architect and even a structural engineer. Below we’ll break down why you may choose to work with one or the other.

Contractor

The right contractor will help you with your home extension project from start to finish. In many cases, they can help with permits, material choices, creating a structured timeline and realistic budget, as well as the building process itself. Most contractors will have access to a network of professionals and thus, they will be able to assist you in hiring who you need to make this project run smoothly. If you’re looking for a trusted contractor, do your research or ask family and friends for suggestions.

Architect

A contractor can assist you in finding the right architect for the job. In many cases, hiring an architect will be necessary for your permit applications, as they’ll have to draw up blueprints. These drawings will be used throughout the building process and in some cases, the architect will work with or suggest an engineer who can carry out the structural design. If you’re lucky, the architect may also create a 3D rendering of your extension to give you an idea of the final result.

home extension exterior

4- Building inspections

Since this is a large-scale project, it’s likely you’ll be required to schedule periodic building inspections in order to be certain that each step is undergone safely. In many cases, the contractor you’re working with will be able to schedule and look after these inspections on your behalf. The nature of the inspections will largely depend on the project, but every home extension will require a final inspection for both the interior and exterior. Here are some other potential points of inspection that may be required:

  • foundation ;
  • framing of the structure ;
  • insulation ;
  • gas, plumbing and electricity ;
  • HVAC ;
  • final interior and exterior inspection.

Feel like you're ready to take on the home extension challenge? We hope this article has offered some insight into everything you need to know!

Don't forget to take a look at our article Home Addition Project: A Checklist of the Steps to Follow.

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