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Top 6 House Addition Mistakes

We regularly get plans and designs sent to us by homeowners who have started the house addition design process, and are looking for a contractor to build their house addition project.  Over the years, we have noticed certain trends and certain mistakes that homeowners regularly make as they embark on their house addition project.

1. Designing Without Any Idea Of Cost – this is by far the most common issue we see.  Homeowners begin to work with an architect and invest, often thousands of dollars, into designing their house addition.  When the design is complete, they send it to builders for a quote, and then find out it doesn’t fit their budget.  We see this numerous times every year, and it leads to additional cost of redesigning, or more often, a project that is abandoned.

2. Getting Building Permits Before A Quote – In this scenario, the homeowner has not only completed design work, but they’ve also gone ahead and applied for and received a building permit.  We’ve seen homeowners pay the city for the cost of a building permit, and then abandon the project when they can’t find a contractor who can build their house addition within their budget parameters.

3. Being Too Optimistic About Cost – In this case, the homeowner has obtained quotes from contractors and builders for their house addition project, but they focus on the lowest cost, or the best case scenario.

4. Being Too Optimistic About Schedule – Before construction even starts, there are months of planning and design work.  The design and build permit process can take six to twelve months, sometimes longer, depending on the complexity of the project and the government regulations that may apply.  Once construction starts, the house addition involves significant outdoor work which depends on favourable weather.   It also involves matching old and new materials, which can be difficult and time consuming.

5. Hoping To Salvage and ReUse Materials – Many homeowners plan to salvage finishes and fixtures and re-use them as part of the project.  This often includes plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, and trim work.  After construction starts, it is often determined that materials can’t be salvaged, or the homeowner decides not to reuse the materials and buys new items, leading to an increased cost of the project.

6. Failing To Plan For Extras – Additional costs can come from several reasons, as we discussed recently in our article 5 Reasons For Change Orders.  The #1 reason for extras on a project is homeowner initiated changes, followed by unforeseen conditions.

So how does a homeowner avoid these mistakes?  Start by talking to a contractor or builder first, before starting on design, and get an idea of what the budget should be for your project.  Even better, talk to a design build company – these are the people that are used to working on both the design and building aspects of house additions, so they have the best concept of what goes into building the house addition.