By Megan Wild, author of Your Wild Home blog 

Building an add-on can prove a great way to add some extra square footage to your existing property, but it isn’t as simple as breaking ground and building a new room. Let’s take a look at what you should know before building an add-on to your home, and things you should remain on the lookout for.

Why Build an Add-On?

Why do people build add-ons to their home? These extra spaces have a number of uses, including:

  • Making additional space for aging parents or adult children to move in with you
  • Adding a new room to rent out for some additional income
  • Additional storage
  • A man cave, craft room or other space you don’t have room for currently

The goal of an add-on is to give you some extra space. What you choose to do with that space remains entirely up to you. What do you need to know before you start building an add-on?

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Shop Around

Don’t jump on the first contractor that makes an offer on your project. An add-on isn’t something you want to rush. Fast work is great, but it can also result in poor quality work that won’t be up to code once the construction is complete.

Talk to a variety of different contractors and architects. You may find the first few architects you speak with won’t see your idea the same way you do, so it’s important to find someone you can see eye to eye with. A good contractor should work for you, not the other way around. See what they can do for you, what their prices are, and whether or not they are licensed and insured in your state.

Make Safety a Priority

Safety on a construction site, even if building an add-on to your home, is one of the most important things you can do both for yourself and for the contractors. Falls are the top cause of death on a construction site, but that isn’t the only risk – becoming trapped between heavy objects, being struck by a falling object or electrocution are all risks associated with construction.

If the construction of your add-on doesn’t prevent you from staying in your home, it’s important to put safety rules in place for you, your children and anyone else staying in the home. The construction site should be off-limits to anyone without the proper safety gear – and to anyone else, at the contractor’s discretion. The last thing you need when you’ve got someone wielding power tools is to have small children underfoot.

Get the Proper Permits

Do you need a permit for your add-on? Construction permits are necessary for a lot of different projects, for a number of different reasons. If you need a new foundation for your add-on, you will need a permit for that.

If you’re not sure what type of permits you need, take the time to head down to your local building permit office and ask. It’s also important to determine who needs to take out the permits. In most areas, whoever takes the permit out is responsible for the work – if your contractor takes out the permit in your name, he or she makes you responsible for the work they do. The same thing applies if you take out the permits in your name.

Make sure you are sure of your contractor’s work and work ethic – or ensure your contractor takes out the permits in their names to make them responsible for their work.

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Be Aware of the Price

Building an add-on to your house isn’t a cheap proposition. A single room can cost upwards of $50,000 to $75,000, and that doesn’t include any problems with construction found after you break ground.

Know what your budget is before you begin, and make sure your contractor is aware of your budget.  You don’t need a contractor who splurges on all the most expensive materials when you try to build an add-on without breaking the bank. Make sure you budget for unforeseen complications like damage to the house — mold, termites, etc. — that needs repairs before the add-on can be completed.

Building an add-on can be a great way to make the most out of your existing home. It’s a great option for anyone who loves their home but doesn’t have enough space. Instead of moving, look into building an add-on — as long as you take the time to find a licensed contractor who’s willing to work with you to create the extra space of your dreams.