- Are you improving the house, or just making it different? Most peoples’ needs change over time: children come and go, lifestyles change; we age. Is your home not working for you anymore, but would fit the bill for someone else? The cost of remodeling and additions is so much higher than new construction; does it make more sense to relocate? That said, the way we live in our homes has changed over the years. We desire more open and casual plans; more bathrooms and closet space; bigger garages. If the changes you would like to make would appeal to many people, then it may be worth the upheaval and cost to do.
- Location, Location, Location. We’ve all heard the most important rule of real estate, but it also applies to making costly improvements to your home. Will you be end up with the highest priced house in the neighborhood? If so, is it a neighborhood on the rise? Are amenities being added to the neighborhood such as transportation hubs, shopping, recreation centers, or schools? Many urban areas that were neglected for years are becoming highly prized for their easier commutes and walking neighborhoods.
- Will your jurisdiction allow the addition you have in mind? The first step is to call or visit your jurisdiction’s zoning or land development office. If you’re not sure who governs your area, a simple call to either your city or county will tell you. Once you’re talking to the right person, you want to find out the following:
- What are the setbacks (the minimum distance between the lot line and your structure);
- What are the height limits, and how they are measured;
- What is the maximum lot coverage or building size restrictions, and how they are calculated;
- What process is in place if you need to go beyond any of the above restrictions?
Once you have an idea of what you’d like to do and a basic understanding of the rules, it’s a good idea to go the zoning office and discuss your plans with an official. They are there to help you, but it’s also a good idea to ask some open ended questions, such as, “Is there anything else I should know?” Take notes and write down the name of the person you talk to.