The information age is here, the internet is full of DIY ideas and instructions the problem is money certainly isn’t flowing freely these days. So if you have little or no knowledge of construction should you attempt to build your own home addition? Here are a few beginning steps to follow if you want to attempt a big DIY project such as this. These steps not only will save you money but also help complete your building project quicker.
The first step to save money is to approach the township, boro or city zoning officer. Yes, the zoning officer not the permit officer. Inquire about any setbacks, zoning or lot coverage requirements. If you were to jump ahead to the blueprint stage without talking to the zoning officer first you may find out later that zoning will not allow you to build what you have in mind, then valuable money and time will have been wasted.
Once a preliminary approval is obtained from zoning then it is time to come up with a preliminary blueprint.
This can be done several ways from scratching on notebook paper to hiring a drafts-person or architect. I would suggest hiring a professional for the preliminary plan, as they will know such things as, is there enough room for the stairs and how wide should a hallway be to meet building codes. It is at this preliminary stage that you will be spending the first of your dollars. The amount of money spent for these prelim. plans could range from $ 500.00 to upwards of $ 5,000.00 depending on how many times you need to go back to the drawing board and how big it is. The money spent is well worth it, because then you can smoothly move on to the next stage.
If you hire a design build company make sure you express to them at the beginning that you intend to get pricing from other subcontractors and are not committing to using them for the job.
This will most likely affect their price for the preliminary plans as well as insuring that when you receive the preliminary design, the prints are indeed your property to keep and not property of the design/build firm.
With preliminary plans in hand and armed with knowledge that what you are planning will pass thru zoning and that it will fit into the footprint of the new addition You can then take these preliminary plans to your local lumber yards for pricing of materials. Make about 10 or more copies and you can hand them out to contractors such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, masonry, roofers, etc. Once all pricing has been compiled then you will know if you can afford it.
Up to this point all that has been spent is money for the preliminary plans and your time. Now you can go to the bank with a firm number and paperwork to back it up. During the bank approval stage it would be wise to write out a complete schedule of the project including start and completion dates of all the stages of all different trades that will be involved during the construction. An average addition should take at least three months from start to finish, but possibly twice that if there is interior remodeling of the existing home. Also, don’t forget a schedule for ordering materials, it can really slow things up if the electrician shows up to install lighting fixtures but because they hadn’t been ordered on time he gets sent to another job. Show all this scheduling to the bank as it may encourage them to allow you to be your own general contractor.
Once all financing has been lined up then, but before you start paying interest, back to the drawing board for final plans. These final plans will have all of the notes and details that will be needed to pass the code review of the building permit department. Depending on how big the new addition is you should allow up to 2 weeks for the final plans.
Finally we have final plans. Now off to the permit department for a building permit. Most building officials ask for 7 – 30 days to allow time for their plan review before issuing a permit. It is always a happy day when the building permit department calls telling you that the permit is ready and finally after possibly months and months of planning you are ready to start building.
Jonathan Owens owner of Brookline Builders Inc in Lancaster County Pa, is a Lancaster County native, started Brookline Builders 21 years ago when he was 19. Although Brookline Builders will complete all your residential and commercial construction needs in Lancaster County as well as surrounding counties, Jonathan personally enjoys all types of historic restoration.
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