Ever think about buying a home and doing an addition/ renovation? Here are some things builders recommend to consider.

home addition/ renovation

before and after home addition/ renovation


The New Jersey Real Estate market is very low on housing inventory in some of the more sough after neighborhoods of Bergen County. Housing in the $400-$800 thousand-dollar range is limited, and for growing young professional families, most of the homes are outdated and lack the modern amenities their lifestyle requires. Many buyers are now considering the dreaded addition/renovation option in some of the older established neighborhoods where younger families are calling home. I say “dreaded” because most people have no idea where to start. As a Realtor, Builder and Designer, I will give you “5 Factors to consider when purchasing a home for an Addition/ Renovation.”

Be sure the lot size will accommodate the addition

When working with a Realtor, aim to work with someone who is familiar with Zoning and Ordinance Code. Every town in Bergen County has their own Zoning Guidelines and Town Ordinances. The Town Hall has the guidelines available and some Towns now have them online. It can get very confusing if you are searching for your home in multiple towns and you have to keep referring back to the zoning guidelines for each. Narrow your search to avoid being overwhelmed. Or, make sure to start the conversation with your builder very early into your search so they can assist you with advising on the property. This information is what will determine if the lot size will be able to accommodate your new addition.

Be sure to talk to a Builder, Architect and Engineer before you purchase the home

Starting these conversations with all three parties as early as possible is going to save you many headaches in the process. Things like making sure the lot size will accommodate the addition, what type of sewage system is already in place and will it need to be upgraded. In areas that operate on septic systems (and many Bergen County areas do) the septic has to accommodate any additional bedrooms you plan to add. Drainage issues, and how to accommodate heavy rain fall or snow. The Architect can review and advise you if the new square footage you desire is within the Floor Area Ratio parameters of the Town Ordinance. Having the Builder be part of this early stage is crucial since they bring the on the job building expertise. And, a good Builder will be helpful in picking up any issues that can be missed.

Understand the Process

• Architectural Plans, Site Plans and Permits
The process begins with your Architectural Plans, having an architect that understands your vision for you new home is crucial as they will be laying out your space. Think of functionality while in the design process, this will assure your home fits your needs. The Engineer will do a Site Plan of the property and any calculations you need for your permits i.e. soil calculations, drainage calculations etc. Each town’s permit process and whats required will slightly vary. But, your builder will make sure that all requirements are met and all your permit applications are in order.

• Building Process
The building process is very unpredictable, and many factors can influence the process. That’s the main thing you have to understand.  Be ready to deviate at any time if needed since every project can be unique in its process. If there are no surprises and delays (weather) it can go smoothly. First step is to Demo, then dig your footings, pour the concrete, build your foundation walls, frame the addition. And finally, the exterior roofing an siding. In the meantime, the interior is getting all the mechanicals, Heating and cooling, Plumbing and Electric. And, then is on to closing the walls and the finishes. Flooring, tile, cabinetry, lighting, trim and doors. The process can be hard but with the right team of professionals, it can be an enjoyable experience.

Understand How you Property Taxes will be affected

Your property taxes are calculated based on the value of the land and the value of the structure (the home). If you improve the home and add square footage your taxes will increase. That will all depend on the new taxable value of your home once it is completed. It is very difficult to calculate an exact number of what your taxes will be before the home is completed.  The office of the Tax Assessor can provide you with the taxable property rate. Based on Plans and the help of a Builder and the Realtor you can come up with a close number. Most people who do an Addition/ Renovation are not thinking about taxes, but it is an important factor to consider.

Be ready to make decisions

The decision-making process can be a long one. Because, there are many decisions to make and with so much out there you’ll need some guidance narrowing things down. Working with a designer who can navigate your many choices easier will make the decision process go smoother.