Everything you need to think about when starting your project
Adding on to your home is probably the biggest, most expensive remodeling project you can do. There’s a million and one details to be considered – from the location and type of addition, to the use of the new space, to the finishes in the new space.
Here in Austin, we are blessed to have the space to grow, so let’s be purposeful about how we use that space. Here are three things you need to know when planning your Austin home addition:
1. Define Your Addition Goals
Why do you want to add on to your home? What do you hope to accomplish? This is critical information to know, so you can narrow down what type of home addition will work best for you. And this has to be more detailed than “We need more space.” Obviously, you need more space, or you wouldn’t be considering a home addition. But why do you need more space?
Do you have aging parents or other loved ones who need more help in the day-to-day aspects of life? Consider adding an accessible bedroom and en suite, with a separate entrance. This way you can keep an eye on them, and know they are safe, but they still have the independence of their own space.
Do you have adult children who live at home? Are you considering multi-generational living? This might be a great time to add a second story to your ranch home or your garage, to offer apartment-style living to younger family members who aren’t ready or able to be out on their own yet.
Love entertaining but don’t have the space for it? A “conventional home addition” may be perfect for you. With this type of remodel, you add on square footage to your Austin home, but you also remodel the layout of (at least part of) the interior to maximize functionality of your home.
Want to add more living space for entertaining and guests, but you’re on a smaller lot? Perhaps you have a basement and/or attic that could be finished out. This is also a more cost-effective way to add livable space to your Austin home, because now you don’t have to worry about the costs of pouring foundation, framing, etc. Finishing out an existing space is a great way to maximize your budget.
2. Understanding & Following Code
Now that you have a better idea of what you need and why, let’s talk about the most annoying, but important details: the rules and regulations Austin requires you to follow in order to get approval for your home addition.
We know – it’s not fun dealing with the building department. But we also believe it’s important to go through all the proper, legal channels when it comes to building your Austin home addition. So here’s the short version.
You can’t build within a certain amount of feet from your property line. This is called a “setback.” Here in Austin, it’s typically about five feet on either side, ten feet from the back of your property, and twenty-five feet from the front property line. This can vary based on your specific jurisdiction and if you live under any HOA rules, but we can do that research for you.
You can’t develop your entire lot. Unlike most commercial zoning, residential lots require a certain amount of “green space,” (although here in Austin, it may not always be green). This includes your front yard, backyard, and typically a small side yard.
The building department measures this in percentages. You can develop up to 40% of your lot, so if you have a lot that is 6,000 square feet, you can build on up to 2,400 square feet. (Don’t forget – if you can’t go any wider, you can still add a second story to your home.)
You can have an additional 5% of the lot be what’s called “impervious cover,” which is basically anything that blocks the rain from getting into the ground – e.g. patio covers, paved walkways, and even wood decking.
And here in Austin we also have to factor in what trees are on your property. If you, or your neighbor, have a protected or “heritage tree” on your lot, we can’t touch it, and will need to factor its roots into the plan for the addition.
3. Design-Build for Additions
That’s a lot to think about, especially when it comes to setbacks and floor area ratio. But before you run outside with a tape measure and start walking the space off, let’s talk about the best way to get your addition designed, permitted, and built: a design-build remodeler like Wild Creek.
The design-build process we use will allow us to walk you through every step of the planning phase so we can truly capture your vision. We want to make sure we are giving you the best solutions for maximizing your Austin home’s living space.
We have an award winning drafter on our staff: Cassie Davis. Cassie, along with our design partner Cameron Barker, will see to all the details to ensure the permitting process goes smoothly, and a thorough handoff to your project manager (probably Jacob). You can learn more about design-build and why we love it so much here.
Ready to get started on your Austin home addition project? Let’s talk!
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