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Vitamin_N

Any advice on home addition / renovation?

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My wife and I are thinking about adding on to our house. With all of the building, construction, and design geniuses here in Charlotte, I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions? In particular, I'd appreciate any thoughts on materials, construction techniques, design and aesthetic considerations (we've got a 100-year-old mill house near downtown, and I'd like for any addition to be tasteful), books to read, etc.

Put another way, my question is this: what would you do (or not do) if you were adding on to your house or building a new one?

We're in the early stages of thinking about this and I don't even know what I don't know yet, so any comments are welcome. Thanks!

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This feels borderline like real estate advice, which is against the rules. Can an Admin weigh in on whether this okay for the Coffee House?

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My wife and I are thinking about adding on to our house. With all of the building, construction, and design geniuses here in Charlotte, I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions? In particular, I'd appreciate any thoughts on materials, construction techniques, design and aesthetic considerations (we've got a 100-year-old mill house near downtown, and I'd like for any addition to be tasteful), books to read, etc.

Put another way, my question is this: what would you do (or not do) if you were adding on to your house or building a new one?

We're in the early stages of thinking about this and I don't even know what I don't know yet, so any comments are welcome. Thanks!

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This feels borderline like real estate advice, which is against the rules. Can an Admin weigh in on whether this okay for the Coffee House?

As long as advice isn't requested for what specifically should be done for a specific property or any mention of vendors, etc. then I have no problem with it. Having said that, my feelings is that the topic should be about what *should* be done for renovations within a particular area of Charlotte to mix with the existing neighborhood well (and not end up with something that sticks out like a sore thumb).

Anyone is welcome to take what anyone says in this thread as advice, so long as specific questions regarding specific properties aren't asked.

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Hey, this appeared on the opening page of UP. I'm not in Charlotte, but I am living in, and rehabbing, an 1890s house. (Greetings from up north!)

Found it extremely helpful to use some software to design my floorplan and adjustments thereto. The one I use was designed to run on Windows 3.1 (I am not kidding) and I've used it every time I move, to place furniture. When I bought my place (coming up on two years; my first home!) I drew it up, and "flew" around in the "helicopter" to see the layouts.

My house was plagued with several awkward uses of space. For instance, there's a big chimney in the main BR, adjacent to a sloped roof. Previous owners had added a closet (just drywall, molding, and doors) to create a completely useless little niche. My first chopper ride pointed out how silly that was. I did a Save As and revised it, flew around again.

The program also lets me walk through walls and look in windows. It's been very handy in re-designing my kitchen and bath. (There's a home reno columnist whose pet peeve is, when the bathroom door is open, having a clear view of the toilet. She speaks truth.)

The contemporary versions of this type of program include all sorts of upgrades. I've seen one that estimates materials pricing, including wiring and plumbing.

And a wee bit of advice: I am finding out that the reason contractors advertise themselves on craigslist is: that's the best place for them to market themselves. I don't want to type, "if they were capable, reliable, and effective they wouldn't need craigslist," but...my 24" stairs got widened to 36" the week before Christmas, and I still don't have drywall or doors. (Nothing says "happy holidays" like a fine layer of construction dust over every surface in the home.)

HTH

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This feels borderline like real estate advice, which is against the rules. Can an Admin weigh in on whether this okay for the Coffee House?

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Found that home renovation columnist I mentioned. (I'd forgotten about her other logical advice: family entry, mudrooms, kitchen access straight to outdoor grill, garage access straight to kitchen counter, making space useful rather than just adding more of it.)

http://www.creatingspaces.net/index.asp

You might have to open several viewing windows, or even kill some trees (print the floor plans) to get the most out of her comments. They are organized by type of addition or space.

When I was a planning & zoning administrator at a township, we had a restrictive lot coverage ordinance, and most of the dwelling units started out as cottages. One day a guy came in with a floor plan for his addition; he'd carefully calculated the maximum amount of floor space he could add, and drawn a bunch of walled boxes. I looked at the design, and asked, "how will you get your groceries to the kitchen?" Yep, that went beyond the the scope of my duties, but I was there to help people, and there was no sense in him building a house where you had to walk around to the front door with your arms full.

HTH

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I would only deal with contractors that are members of the BBB, are licensed and bonded, and have a good rap sheet on the BBB website. It would also help to check out to see if they have a website and/or if they have a long established history in Charlotte. You might pay a little more for this, but it will save you a lot of potential grief. Be particularly careful of the many fly by night contractors that have shown up in CLT from elsewhere due to the much worse economies elsewhere. Because of this, I would tend to be very careful with contractors that advertise exclusively on Craigslist.

A good honest contractor will not ask for any money up front and only expect payment once the job is done. Oh, and get everything in writing.

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There is a branch of NARI in Charlotte that I would consult as a guide for contractors. Some other basic advice:

1. If its of any significant size or scope I would hire and architect to do some plans. A 2 to 3 grand is a small price to pay for the "right look" not to mention structure. Plus plans will make the pricing you get easier as it will take away some of the contractor's fudge factors.

2. When in doubt pull a permit. Have seen too many times where homeowners have not pulled adequate permits and it comeback to bite them down the road when they go to sell.

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Be sure to not be the highest price house in your area.

Update the kitchen and bathrooms.

If you are updating the SQ FT make sure you find out what the price per SQ FT is going for in your area to make sure it will add value to your property.

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