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Our family of 8 recently put a small home addition (on a budget) on our home.

It was a loooong process.

While we were going through this process, I definitely spent some time online, trying to find real world ideas to help us save money and know the next steps.

But it was really hard to find anything like that, so I decided to write it up myself.

Well…once I started writing, I realized that this wasn’t going to be a simple blog post. There’s just too much information to write up!

So here we are, talking about step two in building a home addition on a budget.

If you missed step one (paying for your home addition on a budget), check that out here.

Step Two: Solidifying Home Addition Plans & Quotes

Everything I wish I had known about adding on to your house with a home addition on the back. Home addition plans. House addition before and after.

If you decide to add on to your house, you probably already have some idea about what you want.

But unless you’re an expert at construction, you definitely want to get some opinions about your plans from a professional.

If you don’t have a “guy”, hopefully your friends or family do. Ask!

(Sounds simple, but we learned that this is probably the most critical step of them all.)

Asking is how I found our contractor. Friends recommended him.

We asked him to come out to the house before we even really got started on everything.

He showed me why the side of the house I was thinking of adding to didn’t make sense. And why bringing it off the back worked so much better.

(Imagine how much money we’d have lost if I just went with my idea and ran!)

Plot It Out

After that chat, I took out some grid paper and sketched what I wanted. I measured, and measured, and measured again.

(Invest in a couple of tape measurers since you’ll never be able to find one when you need it.)

Grid paper is nice since you can use each square as a 1’x1′ box in your room for accurate measurements.

(If it’s a really small addition, or you want to focus on one particular room, they could be inches instead of feet.)

I probably drew 3 or 4 different plans on grid paper. Even when I got to the final plan that I was happy with, we still modified it several more times before we were sure.

It’s Finally Time!

Then it was time to call in a professional.

Some say you should hire an architect before you pay for blueprints.

Probably true if, you’re very into design and details.

As for me, I just wanted more space in my home. So we skipped the architect.

I don’t regret it at all. But I’ve ready stories of people who ran into problems when they skipped that step.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if that expense is worth it.

A fun picture looking out the old back door to see the new kitchen addition taking shape.

Getting Blueprints

Now, even blueprints alone are a heavy expense. I called every number I could find.

Then I asked more people for more recommendations.

Boy was that a good decision.

We were quoted anything from hundreds to thousands of dollars for a set of blueprints.


Do you go cheap and hope for the best? Top of the line? (I mean, this is a house we’re talking about.)

In the end, we decided to go with the guy who only charged us $650. (That was the lowest bid I found.)

(Incidentally…this is yet again a guy that we found out about through family. Ask people you know with experience in construction, or people who have used a contractor recently.)

But the real reason I chose him is that he seemed knowledgeable and quickly responded through the calls and emails we had with him.

So we decided to have him come to the house to take measurements and discuss our plans.

He definitely had answers to all of our questions, and even offered some suggestions about ways we could make the most of our space.

After our meeting with him, we felt confident about moving forward.

In the end, it was a great decision. We got exactly what we needed (and that extra knowledgeable advice) at a bargain rate compared to many of the places I had called.

Always, always shop around. And trust your gut.

Then, get as much information from your contractor as you can.

Be sure to meet with them in person before making your final decision. Our guy charged $50 to come out and look at the place, but he applied that $50 to our final quote.

It would have been $50 well spent either way.

Blueprints In Hand…Time for Quotes!

Once you have the blueprints, you can start to get quotes from contractors.

So yes, it’s possible you could spend hundreds of dollars on blueprints… only to find out that you can’t possibly afford to add on to your home.

And that’s a bummer. (So make sure you are 100% ready to go on the project before you pay for blueprints.)

The trouble is that no one can give you a true, accurate quote unless they see the blueprints for the exact plan you have.

Think of it this way…

If you discover that you can’t afford the project, at least you’ll know how much money you need to save. (Try this free $100 – 100x chart to help you save up a good chunk of change.)

Or if nothing else, you can have peace of mind, knowing that at least you did everything you could to realize your dream.

General Contractor… or DO It Yourself?

Depending on who and what you already know, you can save money by doing parts of the project yourself. Or by farming them out to your own contractors.

Be aware that not every general contractor is willing to work with you on this.

And sometimes, banks will only allow you to use a general contractor.

This is another benefit to doing a cash out refinance. A construction loan has many more restrictions that are designed to make sure you don’t lose the entire chunk of money and have no house to show for it.

(In many cases, that’s probably a good thing.)

If you missed the first post in this series, you can learn how we paid for our home addition here.

If you choose DIY your home addition rather than hiring a general contractor, it is VITAL that you are very honest with yourself.

Adding a closet to the corner of a room might be a good time to learn how to do construction yourself.

Adding on to your house…probably not the time for learning.

In the end, we chose to go with a general contractor for most of the home addition project.

(We did choose to DIY portions of the project. More on that later.)

Basically, we paid our contractor to build the new basement, frame in the addition, and find us a plumber.

We found our own electrician, drywall guy, and paid a local lumber company to install countertops.

What Does “Frame It In” Mean?

The definition of “framing in” a home addition is probably different for every general contractor. But here’s what we got.

We asked our general contractor to “frame in” our addition. For that, we paid him for the foundation, wooden frame, subfloor, outer walls, and roof.

All of this was broken down in the initial quote he gave us.

Discuss the exact details with your contractor to come to your own agreement. Just remember that the more you ask them to do, obviously the more it will cost.

Always, always remember to account for an extra 10%-20% for unexpected “surprises”. We ran into plenty of those with our 1950s home.

Jumping in and learning how to do the plans for our home addition on a budget kept this step affordable.

This is a good time to remind you that even once you get your quotes and choose your contractor, it’s highly likely that they won’t be able to get to you very quickly.

Not only are supplies still in demand, but so is labor. And good contractors are usually worth the wait.

So spend some time here reminding yourself that patience is a virtue!