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Calculating Square Footage for Home Additions

Answered by Jeffrey ~ June 30, 2010 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

I'm trying to get a reliable estimate for a home addition at the back of my existing house in Phoenix. Because of setback requirements, it's going to be a narrow room, much wider than long. Should I call in a contractor to measure the size first or will they measure it as part of writing an estimate?

Bill D. ~ Phoenix, Arizona

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Bill, Any good contractor is going to want to visit the job site before figuring up a price for your home addition. This allows the contractor to see exactly what the project is all about and if there are any possible issues which might affect the pricing of the job. The visit also serves to protect you from possible additional charges for work the contractor hadn't figured into their pricing. You don't want the contractor coming up to you after they start the job and telling you they are going to have to charge extra due to there not being an exterior electric outlet close by and they are going to have to use a generator.

I would recommend that you stay away from any contractor who gives you a price for the home addition without visiting the site. A ballpark square foot cost so you can make the decision as to whether you want to move forward with the project is different. Most contractors have priced enough work that they can give you an average cost per square foot for your type of project, but then they should want to follow up with a more precise cost for your particular home addition and that requires a job site visit.

You are going to eventually need drawings of your home addition for a building permit, and those drawings are going to have to show the exact size of the project. I would think that a large city like Phoenix, Arizona is going to have a professional building department and they are going to want detailed drawings showing the addition size, the wall and roof systems, and some foundation details.

There are a couple of ways to approach getting working drawings for the project. You can work with an architect or draftsperson to have the home addition drawn up, and then have all of the contractors doing estimates for the job use those drawings to arrive at their prices, or you can choose contractors with the capability to do their own drawings. This might be the least expensive option for a home addition which shouldn't require an architect's expertise. Keep in mind if you choose this option, each contractor is going to be pricing the home addition that they have drawn up. Each drawing should be somewhat similar as the dimensions are going to be the same, but there still may be some differences in the structure and finish work that could affect each price.

Ask each contractor to go over their drawings and costs in detail with you so you know exactly what you are going to be receiving if you choose them to do the work.

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