Everything You Need to Consider Before You Start Your Home Addition

From planning & budgeting to hiring addition contractors and more, here’s everything you need to know before you start your home addition.

If you want a bigger space but you don’t want to move or you can’t find a house with all of the qualities you desire, home additions are a functional and appealing option. From second floor additions to bump out additions, garage additions and beyond, there are a ton of choices when it comes to expanding your space.

But even small additions can become major projects, making it essential that you hire the right home addition contractors. Here’s everything you need to know about making additions to your home and how to choose the best team for the job.

Identify goals

Before you get started on your new home addition, the first thing you’ll need to do is identify your goals and objectives. This will help you lay the foundations for the project and create a vision for the finished product. Here are a few things to think about when identifying your goals:

  • Why. Consider why you want to start this project in the first place. Why do you want the extra room? Is it for more storage space? Do you need more bedrooms or bathrooms? Is your kitchen too small?
  • What. Think about what you want to achieve with your home addition and how the project will help you get there.
  • Type of space. With so many types of home additions, consider what type of space you will add and what it will be used for.
  • Be specific. In order to ensure that the result meets your expectations, you’ll want to get specific. This includes things like determining the amount of square feet you’ll need, how you’ll furnish the area, etc.

Having goals for your home addition will also keep you organized so that you can stay within your budget and timeframe.

Prioritizing needs vs. wants

Surely you have a dream of what your home addition will look like, but chances are you’ll need to make a few compromises along the way. Whether you’re limited by space, budget, conflicting preferences or anything else, it’s important to prioritize. Start by separating your needs from your wants to determine what’s essential and what’s negotiable. This includes:

  • Budget. It doesn’t always make sense to use the most expensive finishes or to emulate an overly intricate design if they will cause you to eat up your budget for the rest of the home addition.
  • Do wants justify costs. Adding a stove to a kitchen expansion is essential, but it might not make sense to add an industrial 8-burner range if you don’t do a lot of cooking.
  • Be flexible. Be open to options that could help you reduce costs or make the project more feasible. Whether it’s a different design, a smaller addition or finishes, flexibility can help you get what you want without compromising too much of your vision.
  • Alternatives. An entire home addition is not right for everyone. Speak with a home addition contractor to find out if the project makes sense for your needs. After all, if you just need a bit more space, you may be able to achieve it by simply rearranging some furniture.

Compromising doesn’t mean giving up on your dream renovation, it identifies the sacrifices you can make to get it done on time and on budget.


One of the most important aspects of any home addition project is the budget. Home additions can quickly get expensive, even if you’re looking for something less ambitious than a second storey addition. In order to ensure that you don’t empty your bank account pursuing the perfect addition to your home, you’ll want to think about:

  • Costs. Now that you have goals and a plan in mind, speak with a home addition contractor to find out exactly how much the addition is expected to cost.
  • Finances. Once you have a price for your project, determine how you’re going to pay for it. Do you have enough savings to cover the cost outright or will you need to take out a home improvement loan or line of credit?
  • Priorities. Keep your needs vs. wants in mind when budgeting, aiming to cut out anything that isn’t worth the cost or essential to your plan.
  • Timeline. Consider when you want to start your home addition project and when you would like it to be completed. This can help you save up for the cost or create an ongoing monthly budget to make routine contributions towards the bills.


Property lines & space

Beyond personal considerations like goals and budgeting, there are often bylaws, property lines and zoning ordinances that can affect the outcome of your project. For example, home additions in Calgary could be limited by city laws that only allow your home to take up 45% of your property. It’s these little details that you need to be aware of, so pay attention to the following before you start building:

  • Community rules and regulations. Look into local bylaws, community rules and regulations to ensure your potential home addition adheres to any legal or community guidelines.
  • Limitations. Find out if there are any height limits, property lines, obstacles (trees, power lines, utility poles) or other limitations that could affect your build. For example,  if you have an old tree in your yard, you may not be allowed to chop it down.
  • Neighbours. You’re not allowed to build into your neighbour’s property, but that doesn’t mean your project won’t affect them. Find out if your addition will block sunlight, impede the use of their yard or have other negative impacts to avoid conflicts.
  • Space. While it’s important to consider other people when planning your project, you’ll also want to think about yourself. Make sure your addition fits well on your property and whether there’s enough room to be comfortable in your yard after it’s completed.


Types of additions

If you’ve decided that a home addition is right for you, it’s time to consider which type will best meet your needs, budget and limitations. Your two options are to build out or up, but there are five ways to do so:

  • Second Floor Addition. This option is self explanatory; second floor or second storey additions involve adding a second floor above an existing one-storey section.
  • Bump-Out Addition. Often used to add an extra room or expand an existing one, bump-out home additions are generally more affordable than adding another storey.
  • Sunroom Addition. A sunroom can help you expand your floor space by providing a bright, glassed-in area to enjoy the sun from indoors even on cooler days.
  • Garage Addition. If you don’t already have a garage, adding one can help you protect your vehicles, increase storage or provide extra living space. You can also build on top of an existing garage and use it as a rentable apartment, an extra bedroom and more.
  • Dormer Addition. Gable, shed and hip dormers can help add extra headroom if your house has a steep roofline. They’re affordable, attractive and can help you transform an awkward space into a more functional room.


Design considerations

No matter what type of home addition you choose, there are a number of design considerations that you’ll need to think about. While your addition contractor can help with some of these decisions, it’s all a matter of preference, so it’s important to consider how these factors will affect your project:

  • Amenities. During the planning stages, you’ll want to think about how your preferred furniture, appliances and electronics will fit into your home addition and design choices.
  • Architectural details. Compare different architectural details and trims to find options that align with your vision. This includes:
    •  Exterior. (Roofing, siding, stonework, design)
    •  Interior. (Beams, fireplace, windows, skylights, doors)
  • Beauty vs. Function. Beyond appearance, consider whether your choices are functional and whether they support the reasoning behind your project.
  • Fit. Your addition should complement your current home, so try to choose details that align with your home’s existing structure and design.


Benefits of home additions

Depending on your reasoning for adding an addition to your home, it might make more sense to sell your current home and move. However, home additions have a number of benefits that you won’t get if you decided to move:

  • Functionality. Home additions make your space more functional, allowing you to get more out of your home.
  • Convenience. Rather than dealing with selling your current home and moving to another, home additions allow you to stay in the same community and keep your property.
  • Value. Adding or expanding a room will increase the square footage of your home, raising the overall value if and when you decide to sell. Plus, they’re less expensive than buying an entire house.
  • Customizable. Since you’ll be building from the ground up, home additions allow you to tailor the new space to fit your needs.


Inconveniences of home additions

Although home additions do have many positives, there are a few downsides you’ll want to watch out for before making any commitments. They can be expensive and time consuming, which could disrupt your lifestyle during construction:

  • Lifestyle. Most home additions require substantial planning and construction, so you’ll want to work around special occasions, holidays, etc. Depending on the type of addition, you may need to move out of your house during the renovation – like when the roof is removed during a second storey addition.
  • Cost. Adding an entire wing or floor to your house isn’t cheap, so be prepared to spend if you want the job done right. Whether you’re paying out of pocket or financing the project, it’s important to determine how you’ll afford the cost of a home addition.
  • Neighbours. Demolishing and adding walls or floors is loud, so your neighbours will almost certainly be affected. Beyond the actual construction, your addition could be inconvenient to your neighbours, so it’s polite to inform them of your plans.
    •  When you apply for a development permit, the city will give your neighbours two weeks to object to the changes to your home.


How to interview/hire an addition contractor

Now that you’ve narrowed down all of the details for your home addition project, it’s time to take action by hiring an addition contractor. These projects can affect the integrity of your house, so it’s essential that you choose the right person. Here’s what you need to know when hiring an addition contractor:

  • Have a plan. Before you start looking for the best addition contractor in Calgary, make sure you have a rough idea of what you want to do.
  • Research. Look into different companies and reviews, get estimates and be sure to ask questions.
  • Ask friends. If you know of any friends, relatives or neighbours who had a home addition built, ask them for tips and referrals to find a reputable contractor.
  • Watch for red flags. Be careful if an addition contractor only accepts cash, wants you to get permits yourself, wants payment up front, doesn’t have a written contract or any other suspicious behaviour.

Home additions are a functional and appealing way to expand your space and get the most out of your home. With so many different options available, they can be customized to fit your needs and budget, even if you have limitations. Home additions are a huge undertaking so we hope this guide gives you a head start on your project.

Adding an entire section to your home can be overwhelming, so we’ve created a downloadable PDF with a checklist that will help you plan and organize your project. Once you’re ready, give us a call and we can help you get started.

Need some inspiration for your home addition? Check out our project gallery.