How to Do Your 'Homework' – Home Improvement

Once you’ve decided to add on, consider the timing. You don’t want a project that’s going to be stalled by a fierce winter (though interior finishing work can be done in bad weather). If you have a costly and complicated plan, you might want to consider adding on in stages over a longer period of time – a 3-year remodeling plan, for instance – instead of doing it all at once.

Also, you must decide whether you or a professional will design the addition. Whatever you decision, some preliminary work must be done – necessary work if you design the addition yourself, optional work, if you have a professional prepare the design. Fr some, this “homework” can help make a better-informed partner in the process; to other it may seem superfluous or redundant, since it’s the kind of thing professional can do quickly – and will do whether you’ve done it or not. Some architects, designers, and contractors say they like to work with homeowners who’ve done some of the preliminaries, because these clients will better understand the project from the beginning. Most say they don’t really expect clients to do much along this line, and don’t mind working with them from scratch.

Home Improvement work How to Do Your 'Homework'   Home Improvement

Learn about your present house. To being, gather all the pertinent facts about your existing house. Study its structure. Find which are the bearing walls (the ones that support the roof) – any addition that involves removal of all or part of a bearing wall adds to the expense. Determine the width and depth of your foundation – go into the basement or crawl space and measure. If you want a second-story addition, your foundation must be able to support it or you’ll have to put in a new foundation. The building inspector will give you necessary specifications.

Learn where all the plumbing is – supply pipes and drain pipes – you can trace their location in the basement. Note where the water enters the house from the street main, and where the large drain pipe leaves the house to connect with the public sewer or septic tank. The farther away from existing plumbing a new bathroom or other room requiring plumbing fixtures is, the more complicated and expensive installation will be.

Measure your rooms. Measure your lot. How many feet from structure to property lines? From Structure to street?  From house to detached garage? These are all-important zoning considerations. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, collect it on a fat sheet and use it to make a scale drawing of your house and lot. Be sure to indicate plumbing outlets. To sum up, have as thorough a grasp of the existing situation as possible.

What do you really want? Next, you start thinking about what you want to add on. Remember, there are any numbers of possibilities to consider. It may not be so simple as saying, “We need a new bedroom, so we’ll add a bedroom.” You might want to think about adding a new kitchen, changing the present kitchen into a family room, and making the present family room into a new master bedroom. Or the garage may become the new bedroom you need, so that the present master bedroom, with its good light, can become a pottery studio.

What are the uses of the addition? Next you should enumerate all the purposes you want the addition to serve. Say you want a new family room. What, specifically, should it include? Space for games? For TV? For storage? For entertaining? For dining? If you plan a new master bedroom, what view should it have? Do you want more or less privacy than you have now? Do you want morning or afternoon sun? Do you want the bedroom to adjoin an existing bathroom, or will you build a new one?

Consider the traffic patterns in the new room and the effect of the room on traffic patterns throughout the rest of the house. Keep in mind that traffic should generally stay close to walls rather than run through the center of a room.

Get all the members of the family together and discuss everybody’s ideas. Get a pad of graph paper, sharpen a jarful of pencils, and begin fiddling around with the possibilities.

Thinking about design: Besides your study of space and its uses, you’ll want to begin giving serious thought to design. This gets into the area of esthetic taste and judgment; no absolute standards prevail. Some people want their room addition to blend so completely with the existing house that there’s no telling where one stops and the other begins. Others don’t mind constructing addition, so long as it harmonizes with the existing structure’s colors, shapes, and textures in way that are not extreme. Still others prefer boldness and build additions with no style similarities whatever to the existing house. Carried to its extremes, this is known as “Collision architecture”; it obviously takes a great deal of flair to carry off.

When developing ideas for space usage and design, remember that your first idea is rarely your best one. Explore in one direction, then leave it behind and go in an entirely different way. Do this as many times as possible; you’re bound to make new, pertinent, and helpful discoveries.


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