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Old 04-30-2015, 10:17 AM
 
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I'm in the process of looking for homes in the Naperville area near the downtown Metra, and a lot of what I an afford needs some expansion. I'm wondering what people have paid in the past few years for additions as well as any pics or descriptions of the scope of work. I realize this is a pretty broad question but at this stage, I don't even have a home picked out yet so getting as many data points as possible would be ideal.
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Old 04-30-2015, 10:36 AM
 
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Rough estimate for additions on existing homes range from about $250/sq ft for space like den/family rooms to about double that for kitchens and bath. Plumbing and appliances account for most of the cost differences. You also have to be realistic about home much homes on smaller lots can be expanded, in many cases extending just a few feet will require variances from existing limits on "floor area ratio" and that forces a two story addition which, unlike when doing initial construction, will often be more costly because of needeed reinforcement / enhancement to structural support. When doing new construction a two story is cheaper than a ranch becuase you get twice as much area with the same footprint / roof BUT you also engineer the joists and rafters for that load vs having to rethink how everything ties together.

Most people like a familyroom / den to be about 150sq ft or so to accommodate TV watching and such, if your lot can accommodate a straightforward addition you might be able to keep the cost under $50K. That said MOST homes that need such an addition very likely would also benefit from a new kitchen, an added or remodeled bathroom, a modern laundry room and probably landscaping / outdoor living space that likely will be trashed in the process. That often drives even "non-luxury" additions well into the six figures and if the neighboring houses are older OR if they are more modern homes built on the site of teardowns you are in a weird position when it comes to resale -- "to nice to tear down but still not really with all the modern conveniences of a new home". I have seen LOTS of people face that dilemma. If you try to reconfigure bedrooms so that you have a proper walk-in closet that can accommodate a family with two working spouses, give some space for the kids to store their toys, have a functional garage that stores not just a car or two but all the gear needed for sports and yard maintenance you've just justified tearing down and building new...
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Old 04-30-2015, 10:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
Rough estimate for additions on existing homes range from about $250/sq ft for space like den/family rooms to about double that for kitchens and bath.
I've certainly heard of additions costing this much and then some, but it seems a bit high for the "low end". Maybe if a new poured concrete basement is part of the deal.
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Old 04-30-2015, 01:31 PM
 
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Default Here is the deal...

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Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
I've certainly heard of additions costing this much and then some, but it seems a bit high for the "low end". Maybe if a new poured concrete basement is part of the deal.
Most folks that I have met that budget LESS than about $50K for any kind of decent addition end up with a barely finished, largely unusable "shell" of a space. And it happens to folks that are themselves contractors too -- just the the "shoemakers children go shoeless" so too does the guy that makes his living doing carpentry sorta forget that even if he gets things like floor, paint, and light fixtures "at cost" it still takes TIME to install / finish a space. And the choice is between going out and getting PAID to do work for somebody else OR staying home to "finally finish it all up" probably 90% of contractors will choose the paycheck. After a few months of that (and plenty of weekends where the dog tired contractor decides sleeping is better than painting...) MAYBE they will decide to actually pay some of their pals to come over and knock out the "punch list" so that their spouse doesn't file for divorce!

So factoring even the "donated labor" that some folks can invest in a project I don't think I am too far off. The advantages of the "design-build" type firms that generally will agree to a 'date certain' type contract is that they have do so many remodels / additions with the same kinds of suppliers and essentially the same crew of subcontractors that will deliver on schedule. The downside is COST and also lack of flexibility -- if you saw some neat new product in a magazine, TV show or expo don't expect them to have experience with it.

I can tell that back when I owned some rental houses and had pretty good connections to quite a few skilled tradespeople very few of the guys that would either help me fix up vacant homes or would work on new construction would ever make a bid on an addition in the same way. See when you are sorts "cleaning out and freshening up" a whole house good contractors sort look for places to save a little so that the end product looks nicer than what you spent. Similar things happen with all new construction -- every little labor saving trick sorta builds a cushion so that as the projecct nears its end all the little touches that make a differences can still be done without going overbudget.

In contrast, anytime you join-up an existing structure to new construction there is almost a certainty that some weird challenge will come up early on. That means the plans that were drawn and approved have to modified and re-approved and if the basic structural "matching" has to be beefed that often eats the contingency before any of the "things that the homeowners see" are even close to being installed.

I know that TV shows like "Love It or List It" always OVERPLAY this aspect, to the point where is seems like a scripted or Kabuki representation of how the designer/homeowner/contractor interaction goes, but honestly out of every 50 or so additions even the design build firms rarely have a dime left in the contingency fund...
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Old 05-01-2015, 08:05 AM
wjj
 
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We reconfigured our entire house and added a 2 story addition onto our existing 2 story house 25 years ago, expanding it by about a third. Best decision we ever made vs selling and buying bigger. We designed everything ourselves and then had an architect draw up the plans. This way, we checked off everything on our must have list for much less than building new.

One thing that we found to be invaluable, but something some people and most contractors feel is a nuisance, is making sure the entire project is permitted and that the local inspectors are on site and sign off on every aspect. We made it clear to all contractors that they did not get paid until the inspectors signed off. That meant that many contractors had to come back 3 and 4 times to get everything to code (and were not allowed to charge us any more for doing it correctly). Some contractors (certainly not all)will try to cut corners wherever they can and it is good to have a government inspector there to watch over things. The owner needs to take responsibility as well and speak up when something does not look right and don't take...."it's just as good" as an answer. No doubt this will slow things down a little (e.g., the drywall cannot go up until the plumbing passes inspection), but it is well worth it. Contractors are wary of getting stiffed or delayed payment so when you tell them to be there with the inspector and that you will pay them on the spot if they pass inspection and give you the lien release, they become very responsive. So that makes up for some of the lost time.

Also, make sure that your contractors know the local code where they are working. We are in Lake County but had a few DuPage County contractors who did not bother to look and see if Lake County and Buffalo Grove had different codes than Hinsdale. This was especially an issue with the HVAC system. Those guys had to come back 5 times before they cleared inspection.

And this goes without saying, but it is very disruptive if you try to live in a house while it is undergoing a major renovation. We did, but vowed we would never do it again.
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Old 05-01-2015, 10:11 AM
 
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Good feedback from all!

WJJ, it sounds like what you did is very similar to what I'm looking at. How long did the project take and do you recall what it cost you? I understand it's 25 years ago but I can probably adjust for inflation to get a ball park. I really like the bones and neighborhood of an existing Cape Code that has 2 BR and a full bath at the back of the first floor, and two BR and a powder room directly above. I'd look to basically add 10-15 feet or so to the entire back of the house to improve the BRs up there to include a master bath and some walk in closets, while also improving the ground floor bedrooms.
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Old 05-01-2015, 10:59 AM
 
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Default It is not just inflation...

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Originally Posted by Joel67 View Post
Good feedback from all!

WJJ, it sounds like what you did is very similar to what I'm looking at. How long did the project take and do you recall what it cost you? I understand it's 25 years ago but I can probably adjust for inflation to get a ball park. I really like the bones and neighborhood of an existing Cape Code that has 2 BR and a full bath at the back of the first floor, and two BR and a powder room directly above. I'd look to basically add 10-15 feet or so to the entire back of the house to improve the BRs up there to include a master bath and some walk in closets, while also improving the ground floor bedrooms.
As wjj alluded to, in many towns there are real PITA local requirements that make price comparisons exceedingly difficult. In my town or Clarendon Hills new construction and additions of set size MUST have fire sprinklers. They do not do that in adjacent Hinsdale and it means that you end up spending quite a bit more. Similarly CH prohibits space over garages from being full height / width, that really limits some homes expansion potential.

If there are similar "local peculiarities" in Naperville a price comparison from BG will not tell you anything useful...

I can say that I have had clients talk to contractors during their shopping phase. If you are contemplating a 203K type loan it is a requirement to get proposals from contractors and most will gladly be part of your "shopping trips" if your are serious about doing this work as part of the initial purchase. A good real estate agent will likely connections to several such contractors and it would be wise to meet with them at the home before you move forward or rule out any such additions.
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Old 05-01-2015, 11:51 AM
wjj
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel67 View Post
Good feedback from all!

WJJ, it sounds like what you did is very similar to what I'm looking at. How long did the project take and do you recall what it cost you? I understand it's 25 years ago but I can probably adjust for inflation to get a ball park. I really like the bones and neighborhood of an existing Cape Code that has 2 BR and a full bath at the back of the first floor, and two BR and a powder room directly above. I'd look to basically add 10-15 feet or so to the entire back of the house to improve the BRs up there to include a master bath and some walk in closets, while also improving the ground floor bedrooms.
It was about $75K back then which is about $135K today using CPI to measure inflation. We did do some of the work ourselves so it would have been higher if we had contractors do it all. The project took 8 months give or take.

Another caution....be sure to have someone come in and mark all of the underground utilities and take video before you break ground. In our case, the electric and phone cables were nowhere near where they were marked and the excavator severed them both. Of course Comed immediately accused us of building in the easement (which we were not) and ignoring their marks (which were in the easement - but that is not where the cable was). But I video taped the marks the day before construction began to chronicle the project. The cables were 10 feet outside of the easement (and about 15 feet from the paint marks) and our foundation was set back 8 feet from the easement. Once Comed saw the video, they backed off. I think they realized that they had dodged a bullet because someone could have been seriously hurt.

Chet is right about different towns having different requirements, so BG's codes 25 years ago may have no relevance to current codes in Naperville.
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:08 PM
 
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I know Glen Ellyn requires fire sprinklers on new construction, but I don't believe that applies to additions/modifications to existing houses that don't already have the systems. Perhaps there's a size limit on that...
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Old 05-02-2015, 07:39 AM
 
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You may be better off just buying a house that is already to your liking. Who is going to be home all the time to oversee renovations. You can't really trust contractors to do what you want without being there and seeing what is being done. Also its a pain to have an existing house torn up.
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