Pros and cons to having an extension built on pillars

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Posted by: from Scarborough
3/16/2017 at 11:41:23 AM

Hi - I'm doing some research. We're planning a 9 x 21' extension on the back of the house (the house is 21' wide). We haven't decided yet if it will be on pillars or with a crawlspace. We're in Scarborough (Toronto) so it's very cold in winter and the extension will be on the north end of the house. Some say it's too cold to use pillars, and others say it's not. We can also put in a heated floor. The addition will be mostly the kitchen and partly my office.

I'd love to hear what you think re the pros and cons of both, including price differences if there are any.

Thank you!

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Date/Time3/16/2017 at 11:57:18 AM

When we do extension on houses we usually do them with a crawl space and skirt it in . The underneath of the floor space will be insulated R30 plus. The floor will be heated with either hot water heating or electric radiant. If your furnace has the capacity you can always tie a line and have forced air heat below the floor as well.

Hope this helps


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Fiona in Scarborough
Date/Time3/16/2017 at 2:09:29 PM

Thanks Peter - why do you do the crawlspace rather than have the addition on pillars?

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Date/Time3/16/2017 at 3:59:02 PM

Hi Fiona,

I did a 12 x 25 extension screened in porch 2 years ago on pillars or piers. This is a less expensive option, however without solid walls on three sides that would normally enclose your crawlspace ,there are a few other thing you must take in to account. Cold and Animals are the two big ones. Either install sheet aluminum 16" below the grade all around or heavy Stainless Steel heavy diamond mesh to prevent animals from digging and living under your addition. Some sort solid wood apron all around as well with vents, and as Peter mentioned install at least R30 insulation and in floor heating.

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Date/Time3/16/2017 at 6:04:32 PM

I would always do a crawlspace that can be heated. The other option of doing piles will cause bigger problems down the road mostly with insulation and vapor barrier. The animal issue is a good point as Scarborough does have its fair share of skunks and raccoons that would love to find an area like that.

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Matt from MRC in Regina
Date/Time3/16/2017 at 9:04:40 PM

Hi there,

I've finished additions that were set on piles (pillars), and the floors were very cold. My understanding of this, is that essentially, you're increasing the exterior surface area of your enclosure. Any measures taken to correct that (i.e in-floor heating) will be inefficient and cause problems in the future. The smartest thing to do, if you have the cash, is put in a crawl space. If you have the money to do it, there's no question, add a crawlspace.

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Fiona in Scarborough
Date/Time3/21/2017 at 7:34:11 AM

Thanks everyone for your replies. I think I will pay the extra and go with the crawl space. I have the time, quotes, money, and now the guy I have lined up sucks at getting back to me. I might be looking for someone else. Why is communication so bad with contractors? And don't say it's lack of time! I'd like to give you all some advice. If someone texts/emails you and you don't have time to answer, just send a quick reply stating "Thanks for your email - I'll get back to you with an answer by Monday" rather than letting the email or text sit, with the customer not knowing what to think! I've told my constractor he's got the job and he didn't reply. Do I assume he doesn't want it or he's booked up now? Or is he happy and just hasn't said thanks? That would be fine, but it would be nice to know so I can move to the next guy before he gets booked up. It's so frustrating!

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Date/Time3/21/2017 at 8:14:36 AM

Hi Fiona,

What many Contractors do now, especially with new customers, is asking for a deposit for the job, usually about 10%. Once that amount is received by the contractor, then you are placed on a "List of Priorities". Demand a receipt for your deposit if they do not give you one. Now you are both in a legal contract. If a Contractor is quite busy and only gets a promise that he has the job but no deposit has been paid , then unfortunately this holds no water and you are not a priority. If a contractor allots time for this job and then the customer decides to either do it them selves or have there brother do it. this loss of time allowance is a big deal for a contractor and must try to fill that void quickly.

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