An Essential Guide to Room Additions

A room addition can add space and value to a home.
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Maybe you’ve welcomed a new addition to the family, mom has decided to move in with you two, or you want to start a new home business. Buying a new place is one way to get the space needed for these life changes. But you can also expand your current digs by adding a room.


Think about when you plan on moving from your current crib. If you’re staying put until the day you die, then you can get maximum use from any kind of room you add. But if this is just a starter home and your plan to be out in five or 10 years, consider the payback. You want rooms that can add value to your home so you can recoup at least part of the costs when you sell. According to Remodeling Magazine, additions that return over half of their expenses include an attic bedroom, a basement completion, kitchen, bathroom, second-story addition, master suite and family room.


Determine the location and dimensions of the addition, and how it integrates with the rest of your home. For example, you can continue the adjoining ceiling height, rug and aluminum-framed windows into the addition, or go with a higher ceiling, wood floor and wood-framed windows. Consider how the exterior of the addition matches the architecture of the house with such components as roofing materials, paint colors, siding and trim. Set as much of this information down on paper as you can. You then have specifications that you can hand over to different contractors to get a more accurate estimate.


A room addition is not a do-it-yourself project because it combines complicated work on the foundation, structure, electrical systems, plumbing, exterior and interior. Picking the right contractor is your most important task. Ask for recommendations from friends or relatives, or contact the National Association of Home Builders for a list of locals. Call your Better Business Bureau to see if they have received any complaints about any of your prospects. Ask your building authority whether the contractors have appropriate licenses and insurance. Get estimates from at least three different contractors and a list of references. Contact those references and ask them if they were satisfied with their choice, whether they would hire the contractor again, and if the job came in on time and under budget. Request a visit to see the addition to get an idea of the quality of work.


Unless you’re paying cash for the addition, you’ll need to get financing from a bank or other financial institution. Among the factors considered for your loan are your income, your credit rating, the amount of debt you carry, the term of the loan and the interest rate. One type of loan is a home-equity loan. This is similar to a mortgage in that you get the money up front and can pay it off over 15 to 30 years. The interest payments can be tax deductible. Another is a home-equity line of credit. You receive a maximum spending limit and can use any amount up to that limit. You’re charged interest only on what you spend.

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