5 Tips for Surviving Building an Addition

Couple and Builder
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When you dream of building an addition on your house, you might dream of extra space, more bedrooms or an augmented kitchen, or even single-purpose rooms like home movie theaters or home offices. The dreams may be accompanied with visions of chatting with the contractor or architect, the rare change order, and a truck or two in front of your house.

While it is good to have those dreams, the reality of addition building goes far beyond that. Since the timeframe is so long, and because so many complex details are involved, it is not quite as easy as ordering up an addition and waiting for it to be finished. Rather, your entire life will be turned upside-down. Also be prepared for how much addition-building will upset your life, and how it might strain personal relationships. These tips for surviving building an addition will help you preserve your sanity during this taxing time.

Keep Your Private Life Private 

When you begin to let work crews into your house, you wish to maintain some level of decorum and privacy. As time goes by, you find yourself letting down your guard, and you will be surprised at how far down you let it drop.

Make sure that areas considered private remain private: bedrooms, bathrooms, home offices, children's rooms. Work crews should only have access to areas where they need access to work. Tape up signs indicating private areas to help make this clear.

Know the Reality of the Addition Breakthrough

When building an addition, many homeowners may imagine that everything happens outside of the house, leaving the indoors clean and dust-free for most of the project. There is a moment often called the "breakthrough" where, in theory, the addition that has been amassing against your house for months is instantly connected to your home when an opening is created over the period of about a day.

Yet breakthrough is a much slower process than you might imagine. Not quite a single, triumphant moment, breakthrough occurs many weeks before the addition is considered finished. It takes a long time for the work crews to finish off the passageway or door, connect HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and otherwise mate the new addition to the old house. An addition is much more than just a box glued to the side of your house. It is supposed to be integrated into your house.

Make Peace With Work Crews in Your House

Even long before the breakthrough, various workers will need to come into the house. For instance, at the least invasive level, you will certainly be meeting with the contractor in your house if only because you need a place to do business. Then, the electricians will need to check out your electrical supply, and in the same sense, the plumbers will need to check out water supply and drainage. Additionally, city and county permitting agencies, the HVAC crew, and the painters will need to access your home before the breakthrough.

Be prepared for this in advance and make peace with the fact that traffic throughout your house will be increased during this period.

Keep Work Within Allotted Hours

When you sign the contracts on day one, certain provisions will be made about late hours, noise, weekend work, and so on. If you have any sense of urgency about the project, you might find yourself waiving any provisions about work-free weekends. After all, did you want this project to go on until next year?

If you do open yourself up for extended days and hours, be prepared for subcontractors taking you up on your offer. As independent business owners, they need to do work whenever they can squeeze it in. If a homeowner lets them work on Saturdays, in many cases, they will accept that offer.

But you need to consider the emotional cost of these extended days and hours. You need to have a break from the work, and these no-work periods make provisions for that. Also, work that extends beyond those hours can have an impact on your neighbors. Complaints about late-night sawing or early-morning hammering may arise when you let workers do their job beyond that contractual timeframe.

Treat Yourself Well

Due to the stresses involved with building an addition, it is almost mandatory that you explore fun and relaxing events outside of the home. Spending too much time around the home, in the thick of the project, is not just frustrating but debilitating.

  • Schedule a long vacation during the addition-building time.
  • Take the kids to fun, day-long activities on weekends.
  • Treat yourself to spa days and massages.
  • Go on a local staycation where you spend time at a local resort or fine hotel.

Whatever you end up doing, the main theme is that the event happens outside of the home and that it has an element of fun or relaxation.