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Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Addition in Boise 2024

Are you thinking of adding on to your Boise home in 2024? In this comprehensive guide, we'll navigate the journey of building a home addition. From initial planning and design to the construction process and final touches, we aim to arm you with the knowledge and insights needed to bring your vision to life.


With interest rates climbing, the allure of moving to a new house can dims in comparison to expanding your current house. Many homeowners are choosing to invest in their existing properties, eyeing home additions as a way to enhance their living space without uprooting their lives.


The motivations behind embarking on a home addition project are as diverse as they are compelling. For some, the growing need for space is driven by an expanding family—be it the joy of new children, welcoming back adult children, or making room for aging parents. These additions become essential for accommodating the evolving dynamics of family life while maintaining comfort and privacy for everyone under the same roof.

Others are motivated by the desire to elevate their quality of life without leaving the cherished neighborhoods and school districts that have become integral to their family’s story. Attachment to local communities, combined with the pursuit of a more luxurious and functionally rich living environment, makes the idea of home additions particularly appealing.



Understanding the Basics of Home Additions


What Does it Take to Build an Addition?

When you embark on the construction of a home addition, you're investing in more than just your finances. You're committing your time and preparing for a temporary shift in your daily routines, convenience, and comfort. This journey, though challenging, promises a rewarding transformation of your living space, offering long-term benefits that far outweigh the initial sacrifices.


Financial Preparation and Planning

Building a home addition is a substantial financial undertaking, highlighting the need for thorough planning and careful consideration. Construction rarely goes exactly as planned, so it’s crucial to think through the details and focus on getting it right the first time. You need to approach this project with a detailed budget that includes a contingency fund for unexpected expenses. This foresight ensures you're well-prepared for the myriad costs associated with construction, materials, labor, and any unforeseen challenges that may pop up.


Time Investment and Involvement

While you might think it's possible to take a hands-off approach during the construction process, such instances are rare, especially when the project involves your primary home. Being actively engaged in the development of your addition allows you to stay informed and make critical decisions that align with your vision and requirements. This involvement means you'll need to be on hand to address a cascade of decisions, sometimes at the eleventh hour, which will demand your time, attention, and energy.

The construction phase may also limit your ability to travel freely, requiring you to be accessible for consultations and decision-making, possibly through video calls or review of images. This level of engagement ensures that, even from afar, you remain connected to the project's progress and maintain control over the decision-making process.


Adjusting to Temporary Disruptions

Building an addition inevitably leads to significant disruptions in your daily life, affecting your routines, convenience, and the overall comfort of your home environment. A strategic approach to mitigate these challenges is to consider temporarily relocating, whether that means staying at another residence you own, renting, or staying with relatives during the most intensive phases of construction. This decision offers multiple benefits for you and the builder. For you, it reduces stress and keeps you away from the noise and dust, ensuring your daily life is less interrupted. For the builder, it often means having the freedom to work more efficiently without needing to accommodate your living requirements, potentially speeding up the construction process.


So You Think You Want to Build an Addition, Where Should You Start?


Finances

When you're at the initial stage of brainstorming a home addition, a critical step is to thoroughly consider how you'll finance the project. Understanding your financing options can help you plan effectively and ensure that your desired project aligns with your financial capabilities. Here are some key points to ponder:

  1. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC):

  • A HELOC allows you to borrow against the equity you've built up in your home. It's a flexible option, giving you access to a line of credit that you can draw from as needed.

  • Consider if your current home equity is sufficient to cover the cost of your addition. Remember, interest rates on HELOCs can vary, so think about whether this option aligns with your financial plan.

  • Oftentimes small local credit unions have the best rates

  1. Home Addition Loan:

  • There are multiple options for home addition loans — some small local banks have loan products, otherwise you can look into services like Renofi. It’s a good idea to start with your personal banker, just keep in mind there are a lot of options out there so don’t feel like you’re stuck with the options your bank has to offer.

  • If you don’t have a go-to banker to discuss your options, our favorite local lender for home additions and other large renovation projects is Robert Hall with Prime Lending

  1. Cash on Hand:

  • Using savings to finance your home addition means you won't have to pay interest, potentially saving you money in the long run.

  • Reflect on the impact this will have on your emergency fund and financial security. It's crucial to ensure you have enough reserves left for unexpected expenses.

  1. Liquidating Another Property or Investment:

  • Selling another property or cashing out investments can provide a significant funding source for your addition.

  • Carefully consider the tax implications and potential returns you might be sacrificing by choosing this route. Consult with a financial advisor to weigh the pros and cons.

  1. Family Assistance:

  • Sometimes, family members might be willing to lend or gift you money to help finance your project.

  • Think about the dynamics this might introduce to your relationships. Clear communication about expectations and terms is key to avoiding misunderstandings.

As you explore these financing options, it's vital to consider the full scope of your project's cost, including unexpected expenses that often arise during construction. Consulting with a financial advisor and getting quotes from contractors can provide a clearer picture of your needs, helping you make an informed decision on how best to finance your home addition.


Build Your Team

Building the right team is a crucial step in ensuring the success of your home addition project. The "big three" professionals you'll likely need include a general contractor, an architect or drafter, and a designer. Each plays a unique role in transforming your vision into reality, while also navigating the complexities of construction, regulations, and design.


General Contractor

Your general contractor is the project manager for the construction of your addition. They will oversee the day-to-day operations on site, manage subcontractors and suppliers, execute on the construction plans, manage the project finances, organize the project documentation, and work to keep the project on schedule and within budget. Choosing a reliable and experienced contractor can make the difference between a smooth project and one filled with delays and issues.


Architect or Drafter

An architect or drafter will take your initial concepts and turn them into actionable plans, ensuring that your addition is both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound. They'll follow the Boise building codes and help obtain the building permits, making sure that your project meets all legal requirements. Depending on the scale and complexity of your addition, an architect can also help you explore creative solutions that maximize your space and enhance your home's value.


Designer

A designer focuses on the interior aesthetics and functionality of your addition. They can help you select materials, finishes, and fixtures that align with your personal style while also ensuring the new space flows seamlessly with the existing style of your home. A good designer can elevate the project, transforming functional spaces into areas of beauty.


Going It Alone

If you're considering managing the project yourself, it's essential to be realistic about the challenges ahead. While taking on the role of general contractor can save you money and offer a tremendous learning opportunity, it also comes with the potential for mistakes and headaches. Be sure you're comfortable with the learning curve and the time investment required. Ultimately, though rewarding, this route demands a significant commitment to problem-solving and decision-making.


Regardless of the path you choose, assembling a team that aligns with your vision, budget, and timeline is key to the success of your home addition project. Remember, the right professionals not only bring your vision to life but also add value to your home and enhance your living experience for years to come.


Although the order of hiring might seem flexible, beginning with a general contractor is often a strategic choice. A good general contractor shoulders the project's execution and brings a wealth of connections, recommending trusted architects and designers they’ve successfully collaborated with. This approach not only streamlines the selection process but ensures your team is well-coordinated, familiar with working together, and aligned with your project's vision and goals.


Despite the advantages of relying on your general contractor’s network, it’s important to conduct your own due diligence. Meeting with potential team members allows you to gauge their understanding of your vision, their communication style, and their ability to work within your parameters. Ultimately, building a cohesive team that shares your enthusiasm and commitment is key to transforming your addition from concept to reality, balancing expertise with a personal touch to achieve your desired outcome.


Steps to Build a Home Addition

Embarking on a home addition project is a journey that requires meticulous planning and execution. Here’s a breakdown of the addition building process, outlined in distinct steps to guide you from conception to completion:


Initial Research & Brainstorming

If you’re reading this guide you’re likely at this step. The first step in your home addition journey involves deep reflection and discussion. Start by distinguishing between your "must-haves" and "nice-to-haves" to clarify your priorities. Concurrently, get your financials in order—this means assessing your funding options, whether through savings, loans, or other means. Equally important is the conversation with your spouse and family about the readiness and timing for such a commitment. This stage sets the foundation for your project, ensuring that everyone involved is aligned with the vision and the financial and emotional investments it entails.


Project Development

With a clear vision in place, the next step is to assemble your "big three": your general contractor, architect (or drafter), and designer. Together, you'll conduct a feasibility analysis to ensure your ideas can be translated into reality within the constraints of your property and budget. This phase involves developing ballpark budgets, value engineering the project, designing building plans, and fleshing out interior design concepts. Collaboratively, you will refine these elements into a detailed and finalized budget, setting the stage for construction. Preparing for construction also means acquiring necessary permits and finalizing timelines, ensuring everything is in place for the physical build to begin.


Construction Phase

The construction phase marks the transformation of plans into tangible progress. Under the management of your general contractor, this stage sees the mobilization of materials, labor, and equipment needed to bring your addition to life. Regular updates and communication between you and your project team are crucial, allowing for adjustments as needed while keeping the project on track. Challenges may arise, but a well-prepared team will navigate these with minimal disruption to the timeline and budget. As construction progresses from foundation work to framing, and eventually to interior finishes, you’ll witness the physical realization of your home addition, culminating in a space that enhances your home's functionality and value.


Each step of the building process, from brainstorming to construction, is integral to the success of your home addition project. By carefully navigating these phases, you ensure that your addition not only meets your current needs but also adds lasting value and enjoyment to your home.


Initial Research & Brainstorming


Assessing Your Needs

Take a moment to reflect on your motivation for reading this guide:

  • What is your current situation like? How long do you plan to be in your house and what is your exit plan?

  • Why do you want an addition?

  • What are your ‘must have’s’ for this project?

  • What are your ‘nice to have’s’ for this project?

  • How will the addition affect your existing space (both indoor and outdoor)?

  • What timeline are you looking at for this project? If now, why now?

Grab a pen and paper and let your ideas flow or open up the notes app on your phone and get it all out.


Sketch Out Your Idea

Grab a tape measure, get some rough measurements, and sketch the outline of the space you’re thinking of. It may make sense to sketch your existing structure as well. Now, fill in the outline with a few of the must have’s. This exercise isn’t meant to result in a perfect or final plan but it will help you better understand the space you’re working with. When you contact a construction professional, they will be able to to quickly assess the feasibility of the project, identify potential challenges, and provide more accurate advice and estimates from the start.


Create a Mood Board

Take the time to explore platforms like Pinterest or Houzz with your family, and put together a board of images that resonate with your vision of the project. Or, if you prefer an analogue approach, grab some interior design magazines on your next stop at the grocery store and bookmark the images that inspire you. This collection of visuals will inspire your team to help you plan & build a project that matches your desires.


Budgeting

Budgeting in the initial phases can be tricky — it’s hard to get a really good idea until you’ve moved a bit further down the process but a good first step is reviewing our Guide on the Cost to Build a Home Addition in 2024 where we share our rough cost per square foot pricing for a variety of different types of home additions.


Regulatory Requirements

In general, it’s a good idea to visit your municipalities Planning and Zoning website to scope out the steps and requirements for building an addition. If you have a question or you are concerned about setbacks, this is the best spot to get that information. You can also call or email the department with questions and typically they will get back in 1-2 days.

Write a summary of the typical process and requirements here

Boise City

Meridian

Eagle


Finding the Right Professionals

Share the process of finding the right professionals to be ready to build.

  • Ask for referrals — leverage your network and ask them who they’ve worked with or who they know, like, and trust

  • Research Online

  • Google

  • Instagram

  • Facebook

  • Next Door

  • Houzz

  • Trade Associations

  • Builders

  • NAHB

  • NARI

  • Architects / Drafters

  • Interior Designers


Design & Planning


Architect vs. Drafter vs. Designer… What is the Difference?

An architect is a licensed professional with a degree in architecture.

A draftsman is an insured professional with the skillset to be able to draft residential — in Idaho draftsman can draw single family and duplexes.


A designer comes in after the architect or draftsman has created the shell for the building to pick out all of the fit and finish items (like cabinets and tile layouts) and create the elevations and schedules for these details. Sometimes a designer can have drafting abilities and vice versa, so it won’t always be a different person.


Order of Operations

There are no hard and fast rules in the order of design. Maybe there is a range that you are in love with that is a must have for your addition project and you start with this requirement in mind. Overall, the process will bounce all over -- it is a creative process and an art form. If you embrace it for what it is and lean into the process, we're confident you'll be able to design the right addition space for you.

  • Floor plan —> square footage & layout

  • Full set of construction drawings

  • Engineering

  • Permits

  • Fixtures & finishes

  • check out our guide on the fixtures & finishes process here


Things to Consider in Design

  • Your lifestyle

  • Your style

  • Flow

  • Energy efficiency

  • Cost efficiency — anything is possible, but what impact will it have?


The Construction Process


Construction Phases

  1. prep & ground work

  2. Get the site ready for your addition. Perform necessary demolition, grading, and prep. Bring in utilities if necessary. Excavate and prepare for foundations if necessary.

  3. Construction

  4. checkout our article on the addition building process from a to z


Managing Challenges

It’s important to maintain a positive attitude. Construction is full of unknowns — be it the weather, supply chain issues, scheduling issues, your plan and timeline is bound to change over the course of the project. Staying positive and focusing on how to make the best out of each scenario to keep the project moving is key.


Should You Hire a General Contractor?

  • A general contractor shoulders the liability for your addition build project. You’re making a hefty investment into your home and you want to make sure that it is built well. The liability a GC bears motivates them to be on top of the building practices and quality that’s going into your build. They will double check the work is being completed per the plans and code and collaborate with their sub contractors to ensure everything is up to snuff.

  • Building an addition is very time consuming — you’ll need to be on top of your game for 3 to 4 months scrutinizing the details and thinking 10 steps ahead to ensure a smooth process. Beyond the time to manage the project, building is a relationship business. A good GC has strong relationships with sub contractors and suppliers that will typically allow them to build the project faster then you could on your own.

  • The details matter — there is a lot of uncharted territory between plans and the final product. When you have a GC quarterbacking the project, it’s their job to identify the gray areas and chase down the details to ensure your build is completed in full color and transparency. If this is your first major project, you may not notice the little details that make a big difference that a more well versed construction manager would pick up on.


How to Vet a General Contractor and Sub Contractors

  • Evaluate your builder the same you would any long term relationship, you are going to be working closely with this person for an extended period of time and exchanging large sums of money. How do their values align with your values? What are their standards and how do they react under pressure? Do they have your best interest in mind?

  • Get certificates of their General Liability and Workers Comp insurance

  • Ask to see their portfolio and for references to their past clients

  • Ask about their workload, how their team is structured, and how they manage their projects


Conclusion

In conclusion, the most crucial step in building a home addition is simply getting started. Despite the challenges and complexities involved, taking that initial step sets the foundation for realizing your vision and creating a space that enhances your lifestyle and adds long-term value to your home. So, don't hesitate—start planning, gather your team, and embark on this rewarding journey of creating your dream home addition.

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