How to Add Living Space by Hiring a Contractor Who “Speaks” Additions


Not all contractors, not even all good contractors, are created equal. Some are excellent at building homes from the ground up. Others work mostly with interior renovations such as bathrooms and kitchens. But you want a contractor who specializes in additions.

The reason is that adding room is a specialized field. The contrac¬≠tor will need to match the exterior of the addition to the existing home, and that can mean knowing where to find the right materials as well as how to apply them. The contractor will also need to know how to create a complimentary roofline. Then there’s matching the interior of the addition. Along the way, the contractor must know how to handle the basics of construction from foundation to framing.

Building Contractor

For example, if you’re in San Francisco and you’re dealing with a turn-of-the-century home, you’ll want a contractor who knows where to find, or how to manufacture, the various spindles and ornate woodwork used on exterior walls and trim. The last thing you want is someone who slaps aluminum siding on a Victorian house. (Such mismatching was common up until a few decades ago, when city ordinances stepped in to control the practice.)

The older the home, the more specialized the required knowledge. With homes that are 70 or 80 years old, the contractor will need specialized knowledge of construction methods used in the 1920s and 1930s in order to modernize the home to current standards while maintaining much of the original look.

Interview your contractor. Ask for references of previous addi­tions (not just homes built from scratch or interior work). Go to see those projects and ask yourself not only how good the work is but how well everything fits together. Be wary of hiring a contractor who is using you to learn on.

Don’t Demolish Exterior Walls Until You’ve Sealed In the New Addition

The point where the addition joins the existing home is critical. That’s where you’ll demolish the original wall or door so that you can move between the home and the addition. The tendency is to want to do the demolition as the first step. Don’t. Wait.

Leave the connecting wall or door in place and go ahead and build the addition. In most cases, the existing connection won’t get in the way. And it will protect the home from the weather and from the dust and dirt of construction.

Indeed, it’s best to hold off as long as possible before demolishing the connecting wall or door. At least finish the new addition’s roof and walls so that you won’t have to worry about bad weather getting in. If you wait until most of the construction work on the addition is almost completed, you will minimize dust, dirt, and noise.

Ideally, demolishing the connecting wall or door is one of the last parts of the project.

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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