Many people have thought of a renovation project for their residential or commercial space at some point, but quickly became overwhelmed on how to get started. Some people lucky enough to know a contractor, rely on them to guide them through the process. However, most people don’t know anyone remotely related to the field. It’s probably because, like most things, no one gives much thought of being in this situation until….well, they’re actually in the situation. So, I will provide some guidance to get you started.
People come to me wanting to either add an extension, or build a second level to their home and sometimes both. The first thing you should find out is if what you want done to your home is actually allowable. Each town or city has their own zoning ordinances which limit the amount of house that can cover your lot. They also limit the square footage, the height and the proximity to your required front, rear and side yards. If not for these guidelines, people would build whatever they wanted, which would result in neighbors clubbing each other in the front yard and ending up on an episode of “COPS”. You don’t want that, right? Of course not. You should make an appointment to speak with your local zoning official to discuss your plans. The town or city usually has a survey of your property on file which the zoning official will use to explain what possible changes you can make. By the way, this process works if you want to build a new house as well.
On occasion, towns do not have a survey of your property, or they will ask you to obtain a more updated survey. In this case, you will have to hire a surveying company to steak-out your property which can cost $1000 and up, depending on the size of your lot. I like to call this part of your journey “Mind numbing frustration #1”
Next, you need to establish a budget. I know what you’re thinking: “How the hell would I know what this construction would cost?!?!?!”. I usually use this rule of thumb: It’s more expensive than you could possibly imagine! But, if you need a ballpark figure try this: a 10 foot x 10 foot extension may start at around $50k – $60K and adding an entire second floor to your home may start at around $70K - $80K for a small house like a cape. The construction time can take up to 6 weeks to complete.
Once you have these basic things in place you are ready to hire an architect and begin your journey. When beginning this project try to keep your eye on the prize at the end. Think of how happy you’ll be in your new home. Until then, breathe, where hats to prevent from pulling all of your hair out ......and remember to have fun.