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Ideas for Your Home Addition

Home addition

Adding on to your home is one of the very largest and most involved home improvement projects out there, but it's also the most rewarding. Extra living space allows you to truly customize your home, creating a place ideally suited to your families needs. Sometimes this extra space is required, and other times it's purely for enjoyment. Either way, an addition adds value and can maximize the use you get out of your home.

In today's recovering economy, people are still searching for ways to cut back. However, we still want to enjoy life. One of the biggest living trends in recent history is the return to home entertaining. Another is extended family members moving back home in order to save money. Both of these trends are enhanced and made easier by a home addition.

Trendy Home Additions

The Spa Bath

In the spirit of bringing luxury home, many homeowners today are investing in master bathrooms which would make expensive resort spas envious. These are true living spaces, not just bathrooms. Popular features include sunken bathtubs, separate steam showers, double vanities for easy use, plenty of built-in storage and even separate dressing areas. Large windows add a real touch of luxury, allowing users to soak in a large tub while enjoying a backyard view.

The spa bathroom is most often added onto a master bedroom, but it can be fit into a home anywhere the required space is available. Claiming a little-used closet is a common way to create usable space; for even larger spa baths, an unused bedroom is sometimes converted. Remember that a great deal of plumbing and wiring is required for this addition, and so it requires the skill of licensed professionals.

The Outdoor Kitchen

One of the most popular home additions today is the construction of an outdoor kitchen. While this addition doesn't technically involve adding on to the house structure itself, many outdoor kitchens are so elaborate they truly are an outdoor room, not just a barbecue area.

A fully outfitted outdoor kitchen is often centered around a large gas grill, which is built into a brick or stone structure. A full traditional oven and range is often included, and true gourmets often enjoy the addition of a wood-fire oven for traditional cultural cooking. Refrigerators, freezers, and plenty of storage and counter space are also common.

Since outdoor entertaining is so popular right now, the full outdoor kitchen doesn't stop at mere cooking. A semi-permanent dining area is often included, which may be permanent in warmer climates. This area is often covered by a large and attractive tent or awning for protection. The cooking area itself is often sheltered by a permanent structure, either free-standing or attached to the main house.

Take a realistic look at your entertaining schedule before investing in a full outdoor kitchen. If you rarely entertain outdoors, these additions can end up being very expensive but little-used decorations. For those homeowners who entertain frequently and truly love being outdoors, however, these additions pay off enormously in enjoyment and added value.

The Enlarged Kitchen

Families and households have changed a lot over the years. Today's typical family requires more space, but often lives in a home built years ago. This creates a cramped feeling in the kitchen, which is often where a family relaxes and congregates.

Adding on to your kitchen is extremely popular these days. Depending on how you expand and where certain utilities are located, it can be relatively simple or very involved.

The addition of gourmet appliances, such as larger stoves and refrigerators, are common during a kitchen expansion. Enlarging the dining area and adding an island are also popular ways to increase usable space.

The In-House Suite

For many different reasons, households today are expanding. This might be due to a college graduate moving back home to save up for their own house, or due to an older relative moving in with children for financial or safety reasons. Regardless of the reason behind it, this occurrence often causes a house to feel cramped and crowded.

Accommodating these new household additions often involves a home addition. Homeowners are adding living space in their basements, as well as building onto the exterior of the house itself. These living spaces are usually connected to the main house, yet separated by at least a doorway, giving the occupants a higher degree of privacy.

Instead of a simple extra bedroom, these suites often include private full baths, separate living and sleeping areas and even their own kitchens or kitchenettes. An addition of this type is a great investment. When and if they are vacated by family members or friends, they can be used as guest suites or even rented out to generate extra income.

The Sun Room or Greenhouse

Sun rooms and greenhouses can be the same space, or they can be completely separate. Homeowners who love gardening but who live in a cooler climate often add a small greenhouse onto the back of their home, allowing them to utilize natural sunshine and grow year-round. A sun room, also often known as an enclosed porch, can be quite different. These structures are most commonly built onto the front of a home, matching the home's structure. They allow the household to enjoy the seasons without freezing in the winter and sweating to death in the summer. Some are three-season porches, enclosed and insulated but not heated or cooled. More elaborate sun rooms are often heated and cooled, allowing year-round enjoyment. For a homeowner who loves the outdoors but lives in a climate where temperatures often reach extremes, a sun room is often the ideal home addition.

Common Home Addition Mistakes

A great deal of the work involved in a home addition, for safety and insurance reasons, must be done by professionals. This includes most plumbing, electrical and natural gas work. Less hazardous jobs, such as knocking down walls and painting, can be tackled on a DIY basis. The following are some of the most common mistakes made by homeowners during the home addition process.

Taking on Too Much DIY Work

Unless you have experience in the task at hand, it's generally best to call in the professionals. Even a job which sounds simple, such as knocking down a wall, can be fraught with potential dangers if a pipe or wire is damaged. Doing home addition work yourself is great, but only if you truly know what you're doing. Going into a project blind is likely to result in costly repairs before the actual addition work can even begin.

Hiring Inexperienced Workers

Experience is important for any home improvement professional. However, since most home additions involve several different areas of required expertise, hiring somebody with the proper experience becomes even more crucial.

If a contractor tries to convince you that he is experienced in several highly intricate areas, demand to see licenses in all these areas. Chances are he is experienced but not licensed. While he may know exactly what he's doing, allowing an unlicensed person to work on things like plumbing and electrical wiring is not only potentially hazardous, but it can void warranties, violate building permits and even compromise your home insurance coverage. Play it safe and hire only workers who are licensed in the task at hand.

Adding Luxury You Won't Use

A common and often-regretted mistake during a home addition is the inclusion of luxury items your household won't truly use. Sure, that 150-inch television might make you drool, but how often will you be hosting theater parties in your home? If you truly have a passion for film and love to entertain, this type of luxury may be justifiable. However, for many homeowners, ultra-luxury items such as this are purchased without forethought and quickly regretted.

Think through the planning of your addition, including the layout and the items you'll fill it with. Everything should have a purpose. If you love the idea of a spa bath but don't like the sensation of a jacuzzi tub, don't install one! Luxury isn't luxury if you don't enjoy it. A home addition is all about customization. Avoid the costly mistake of buying the biggest and the best just to have the biggest and the best.

Hiring the Best Professionals

Since so many intricate systems are involved in most home additions, hiring the best professionals is crucial. How can you find the best? Thankfully, it's easy.

Website which connect professionals with homeowners are the best resource for finding home improvement workers in your area. You can look through important criteria such as licensing, insurance, and how long an individual has been in a particular industry. On most sites, you can even read reviews written by former clients, giving you a valuable look a just how a professional operates while on the job.

Once you've found a few potential hires, start making phone calls. Explain your project in detail, and obtain detailed estimates from each contractor. The lowest bid is not necessarily the best; take into account the honesty of extremely low bids. Realistic time and financial estimates are often a sign of an honest and reputable contractor.

Posted by: Diane Sheppard
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