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Home Additions and Hidden Cost

Additions – How it is done, things you need and hidden cost you did not know about.

Everyone knows that you need a building permit, but did you know to get one you need a physical survey. Sometimes they even want a new one, meaning current. If you live in a Flood Zone you must have a Flood Certificate (a current one) that tells the city how high above the base flood plain you are. Being in a Flood Zone brings into play additional rules and regulations.

Each city also has “Set Backs” this is the distance from your dwelling or new addition that you must be off the property line. Front Back and Sides, these setbacks are variable from neighborhood to neighborhood, and can even change over the years. You can sometimes apply for a variance, and it cost money, yet in the end the answer is often “No”, but they still take your money… People reading this will say, Boy he is negative… Nope I am not, you just need to know that these rules apply and are sometimes bent or even changed, but they are sometimes enforced, even to the point of making you tear it down and start over. So it is important to play by the rules. Those contractors who work out of their pickup don’t always know the rules and regulations, and may even ignore them till they get caught.

All of the above cost money and you haven’t even started construction. The next big hurdle is infrastructure. Plumbing and Electric. Sewer lines are gravity fed, meaning it all rolls downhill. Many people think it all just rolls through the pipes, like water. Nope… Water supply is under pressure, and water is used to HELP push all through the pipes, but the water power is what happens when it rolls downhill. Occasionally you will see city pumping stations, some push water up into water towers, or increase flow to make it go farther. Yet some actually pump sewage uphill so it can now continue to flow downhill. This happens all day, all year, throughout the city state and country, unknown to the average person. So it is important that you hire a knowledgeable plumber and contractor, so your house does not become the next sewage holding tank, and that you have water and proper pressure for those long soothing showers or a relaxing soak in the tub.

Electrical infrastructure is just as complicated – Service panels, total amperage, flickering lights, unplanned blackouts, or even house fires, are all good reasons for having a knowledgeable Electrician and contractor. Now let’s talk about the heating and air system. They call it a system, since it has components and if one is not functioning or slightly out of sync “It don’t work”. And it links to the electrical system… there is that word again “System”. That’s why they call it Infrastructure, plumbing systems, electrical system, heating and air system, Natural Gas even has a system, and they all have rules, laws, codes and requirements. Do it wrong and poof something bad can happen.

All this being said, and we still haven’t started construction. It makes since to have a plan, Blueprints drawn by someone who knows how to tie all these things together, and more, yet even then, they need the plumber and other professionals to apply their knowledge and between them a House or Addition is born. Once we have all the parts and the rules, we go to the city for a permit. They review all the information, ask questions, and at the end we hope we are approved, if not we address the problem and apply again… All of this sounds hard, but it is not, it is simple, if you know what you are doing, but even then, the professionals have stumbling blocks and high levels of frustration. Yet in the end, we now have our permit. And construction begins…

We need to lay it out with survey and plans with a foundation company, dig footings and install the plumbing infrastructure and get it all inspected, then install the blocking and pour the slab or build the foundation box. Then we need to get it inspected, again… Goodness, we are finally about to stand the walls up. Then the roof, windows and siding, brick if it applies. Then comes the interior rough-ins plumbing, electrical, HVAC, gas, phone, and internet and so on… if it is in the wall, floor or ceiling, it is infrastructure and it needs to be done now. At this time nothing is connected to the outside world or to your house if it is an addition, they won’t be connected until everything, one by one, is inspected and tested. Somethings are dependent on others like HVAC needs electricity and or gas. Exhaust fans need power too, but they are installed during the rough-in stage. Tons of things happens at rough-in and even in a particular order sometimes… Plumbing first, mechanical second, and then electrical, since wire can be worked in and around everything… 

Once you have done all this you need to focus on finishes, Plaster or drywall, paneling, smooth or textured, stone or marble, brass or chrome, hundreds of decisions, keeping in mind that you may need to order it, as it may take time to get.  It often cost more to rush ship it… so don’t wait, make the selection, find out how long it takes and put it on the schedule… If it comes in before you need it you have to store it. Having it on site during construction it could be damaged, misplaced, or lose important parts, and back to square one you go.

As you can see, cost can add up and you need to know this, or you might become one of the statistical ones that ran out of money before you finished. The key is to get involved, ask questions, and be quick about making decisions. A delay of 1 or 2 days, could cost you a week. And if people are paid by the hour, it adds up fast… Put things in order and try real hard not to get out of order… Hanging drywall before you finish the speaker wires could cost more to install the wires, and pay the drywall guy to come back to fix the walls, and a painter to paint again, etc…

There is a systematic order of application, a lot is common since, yet somethings just boggle the mind… Like prime painting before you point up drywall… LOL… the prime paint helps you find all the little things you could not see during the drywall stage. Testing things and doing a trial or dry fit, (dry means no glue or caulk) installing things so you know it fits, then taking it out so you can finish the process in the correct order. And when it is time, you know it will fit. There is a cost associated with some of this, but it is well worth the effort and cost, as it may be more expensive to wait and find out you have the wrong size. Major delays may cost more than the product or the cost of the trial fit.

People sometimes dread the rain. Yet after you dry in an addition and you think it is water tight, a good rain helps to prove it and helps to locate that one little spot that is not water tight, so never fret over a little rain during that phase of construction.

What does a Contractor do..? All of the above… They help you do what you want, on time and on budget. Yet as you can see, not everything goes as plan, and having a contingency plan and a fund to take care of those unplanned expenses is just as important as the Blueprints. Building an addition takes time. Prices go up as time passes, as does freight. Perhaps you changed your mind and what you want cost more… Plan for the unexpected, and you will be successful…

(Photos are borrowed from www.Pinterest.com)

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