Planning an Addition

by Pam Germundsen

“If only we had more room…” Sound like a familiar refrain around your house? You love the neighborhood and detest the thought of moving. One alternative is to add space to your existing house.

As with any major renovation, you want to feel comfortable with the process and be assured the results will fulfill your desires. To help you understand the process, we have tapped into Sunshine Construction’s 20 years of experience.
In talking with Mosche Mor about his company and the various kitchen and bath remodels as well as room additions he has completed, he shared the following ideas with us.

Gather ideas:

* Talk to your family members and finalize a list of what you all agree is wanted in the addition. Do you need one story or two? What is the purpose of the room(s)? Do you want a half bath or a full bathroom? Is there going to be a fireplace? Skylights? Closets? Where do you want the doors and windows?

* Look at magazines, showrooms, builder’s model homes and the homes of neighbors. Try to think about all the ways to enhance your lifestyle. Compile a notebook of pictures, drawings and samples of all the features and functions you want in your new addition.

* Purchase a planning pad (graph paper) and sketch a detailed floor plan of your addition. Your plan should show all the features you want. Do include exterior items such as electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, patios, and steps. Be sure to specify the dimensions for bathrooms, closets, walls and windows. The more detailed and accurate a drawing you can complete, the easier it will be for the contractor to prepare his estimate accurately.

You should now be ready to start meeting with contractors to obtain bids.


* A bid is an offer to do the work. It should include a description of
the proposed work according to what you described and drew out, along with an estimate/proposal amount. It is advisable to get at least three written bids using identical plans and specifications so you can compare prices and contractors.

*Make sure all bids are based on the same set of specifications. This will eliminate any confusion about the products to be used and the work to be done.

*Check the allowances being given for major items in the bids. One contractor might give you a cabinet allowance of $6,000 while another contractor gives you an allowance of $10,000. If you go with the lower estimate, you might get a final cabinet invoice of $11,000 resulting in a $5,000 change order, payable by you!

*Don’t forget the old adage, “If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

Now that you have the estimates, you should start thinking about choosing a contractor.

Choosing a Contractor:

*Check the Contractor’s license. Is the contractor holding a current, valid license with the Contractors State License Board? ( What is his standing?

* Check the Contractor’s references. Skilled contractors are proud and take credit for their work. You should be able to see finished projects and projects in progress.

* Make sure the contractor has Workers’ Compensation and Liability Insurance coverage. (This will ultimately protect you, the Homeowner.)

Once you have decided on a contractor, you should have them prepare a contract.


* A signed contract is their authorization to go forward with your project.

* Have it in writing. The written contract protects both you and the contractor.

* Do not sign anything until you review all of the terms with the contractor and completely understand what you are signing.

* Be sure the financial terms of the contract are clear. The contract should include the total price and the payment schedule.

* If you have added work after the signed contract, substituted materials or equipment, or changed the completion date, make sure that clearly worded and signed “change orders” reflect this.

When your home improvements are completed, it is time to meet with the contractor to return the keys, do a final walk through, write the final check and enjoy your beautiful home!

Sunshine Construction, Inc. would like to share their portfolio and references with you and offer a competitive bid on your next upcoming project. The company is bonded, and carries both liability insurance and workman’s compensation. Call them for an appointment and a free estimate at their toll free number (800) 953-0053 or (925) 932-4072.