Home additions: sweating the small stuff

Posted by Jeffrey Anderson ~ October 30, 2012

There's nothing quite like adding on to your house. Just about any remodeling project is exciting, but a home addition can be so much more. It might mean finally getting that garage, family room, or master suite that your house has always lacked.

Once the project is underway, it's often difficult to contain your enthusiasm as each construction phase is finished; you're one step closer to a completed project. But before you get too carried away, keep in mind that rushing through an addition can cause details to be overlooked -- small stuff that almost always returns to haunt you at a later date.

When adding on, the devil is in the details

Whether it's a DIY project or you plan on hiring a contractor, the small details during each phase of construction can make a huge difference at the end of the job. A perfect example is the exterior finishes: installing the shingles and setting the windows means your home addition is now weather tight, but is it really?

While they may not seem like much, missing a few small items can allow your construction project to leak like a sieve. Remember these details when weathering in your home's new addition:

  • Roof flashing -- Everywhere your new roof terminates against a vertical plane such as the existing structure or a chimney, flashing must be installed to close any gaps. Roof flashing is normally metal and may be small pieces or one long strip.

roof flashing
Install roof flashing as needed

  • Plumbing boots -- If your addition has any plumbing, the contractor may need to place a vent stack through the roof. The only problem is that plumbers normally don't do roofing. Get your plumbing contractor to locate where the vent will exit so the roofer can install a flashing boot while applying the shingles.

plumbing boot
Did you remember your plumbing boots?

  • Window flashing -- Do your new windows have a warranty against leaks? They probably do, but if you read the fine print, only when they've been flashed according to the manufacturer's recommendations. This almost always involves installing a weatherproofing membrane over the window's exterior flanges.

window flashing
Flash windows according to manufacturer recommendations

  • House wrap -- If you think your exterior siding will keep the interior of your addition dry, think again. Almost all siding materials allow water infiltration; house wrap can keep it from entering your home. While you may be anxious to see the new siding, taking time to install house wrap may pay off in the long run.
  • Ice dam membranes -- How much do you think it might cost to repair major water damage to your new addition? You may have the opportunity to find out if you live in a cold climate and don't use ice dam membrane on your project's roof. It should be placed at the eaves and valleys prior to the shingles being installed.

As you can see, the phrase "don't sweat the small stuff" doesn't apply to adding on to your home. Paying attention to the details during each construction phase can mean the difference between a successful project and one that's a never ending headache.

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