How Do Northern Virginia Additions Change Your Landscaping?

Filed Under: Additions, Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Building a home addition certainly alters your interior living space, expanding the space and often rearranging traffic inside your home. But have you thought about how Northern Virginia additions change the landscape as well? More than simply displacing a few flower beds and chewing up the turf, large scale home improvement projects such as this one may require major landscaping alterations.

Common Landscaping Changes

Some home addition designs do not alter the exterior living space as much as others. For instance, an attic refurbishment or second story addition does not change the footprint of your house. Other than the heavy equipment tracking through your front yard and debris cast off in the demolition stage, this type of project should not greatly change your yard or landscaping plan.

On the other hand, any Northern Virginia additions that do expand or alter the footprint of the house will very likely affect the surrounding gardens, turf and hardscaping such as decks, patios and fences. Consider how these changes influence your outdoor living by asking the following questions:

  • Where will the newly expanded foundation be located?
  • What trees, gardens and hardscaping will need to be removed? Can they be moved to another location?
  • How will the traffic flow and walkways change and how do those changes affect safety and security?
  • Will the new addition create more shade or alter the exposure of your yard?
  • Will existing trees need to be trimmed to avoid potential damage?

Depending on where the addition is located, the most common landscaping alterations include:

  • deck or porch renovations
  • patio repairs
  • fence renovations
  • garden relocation
  • tree transplantation or trimming
  • turf repairs
  • irrigation system repairs
  • hot tub relocation

Some landscape features cannot be relocated, repaired or affordably renovated. A swimming pool, for instance, may need to be ripped out and replaced if your home addition encroaches on the pool deck. Older trees and traditional stonework may not survive a move, and when extended restoration is required, you can expect these heritage materials to take a back seat during your home addition project.

Budgeting for This Portion of the Project

It may be difficult to predict the costs of landscaping alterations. Major deck or patio renovations can cost nearly as much as building a new structure, and the cost of replanting your garden often depends on the success of transplantation. Turf repairs are easier to budget for, although you may not know how much of the yard will be destroyed or damaged during the project.

Talk to your general contractor about this situation and go over the potential exterior work. Find out whether they will be working with a licensed landscape professional and consider how that hiring decision will affect your overall cost. You may want to delay the landscaping work until weather permits or plan to DIY certain parts—all of these decisions will affect the budget.

Certain styles of Northern Virginia additions will alter your landscaping and require an expanded budget. Be sure to have a trained professional on the job and consider delaying some of the landscape work if the weather or budget does not allow. These details help to make the most of your home improvement project, and keep your home looking its best.

Do You Need an Architect for Virginia Additions?

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

When you love your house despite the need for more space, home additions provide the ideal solution. But ensuring that Virginia additions blend seamlessly into the existing structures can be challenging. Do homeowners need to hire an architect to do this project well? Or are the services of an experienced general contractor sufficient to get the job done?

How an Architect Can Help With Home Additions

Large-scale additions, including those that significantly alter the footprint of your home, involve several stages of work. From the demolition and excavation through to finishing touches, home additions on the main floor or second story “raise the roof” projects can get complicated. The advice and direction of an architect may help you to avoid common problems along the way.

Architects provide the design service, which deals with several key elements of your project.

  • How will the existing structure fit into the new building?
  • What changes need to be made to the foundation and landscaping?
  • Will the existing pitch and line of your roof work with the new addition?
  • Do the traffic flow, entrance and stairways work with the addition of more living space?

These types of questions may be above and beyond the expertise of your contractor. Talk to an architect to have questions of this sort handled from the very beginning.

Having detailed blueprints that address each of these vital elements will help to make the addition process faster and smoother. A triangle of open communication between yourself, the architect and your contractor make even the largest problems manageable, and the finished design is likely to be more suited to your lifestyle and tastes.

What Type of Virginia Additions May Not Require an Architect?

Several types of straightforward addition projects may be efficiently and expertly handled without the involvement of an architect. A garage addition can be built right from stock plans and connected to your home with minimal complications. Loft additions do require extensive roof work, but often leave the foundation, entrances and stairways virtually untouched, making the insight of an architect less valuable.

Gauge the experience of your Virginia contractor when considering the value of an architect. Perhaps they regularly work with a local architect or engineering firm and can glean direction and expertise without putting any pressure on the homeowner to hire one. Decide whether your contractor has the resources available to handle all aspects of the design phase and calculate the actual cost of having an architect work for you.

Do Architects Help With Mechanical Design?

Architect firms most often handle the structural designs, floor plans and layout of your new home. They can draw a rendering of the finished product and help you to achieve the desired vision. Architects also handle the task of blending existing architectural elements with new ones, including trim, siding and roof lines.

Your contractor handles all mechanical issues, such as the electrical, plumbing and HVAC work involved in home additions. Licensed plumbers and electricians know how to connect the new space with the current systems, maintaining peak efficiency and ensuring your entire home runs well.

Although architects are not required for all Virginia additions, they may enhance larger projects and add value to your home improvement project. Assess the cost and weigh the value before you decide to hire a local architect.

How to Design Functional Garages with Northern Virginia Additions

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

attribution - flickr/jayeb333

A single-family dwelling holds its value in the marketplace and provides a comfortable home for your family. But your property will be more functional and valuable with a garage, and well-designed Northern Virginia additions help you to create this important space. Check out these design and construction tips to ensure your garage addition works well for your family.

The Mechanics of a Garage

Garages play a unique role on any property, and must be designed to suit that role. A professional home addition contractor handles all special considerations and safety factors must be handled in the design stage.

Certain building materials must be used in the construction process, mainly due to the items typically stored in a garage, including vehicles and lawn equipment. Self-closing doors and a gas-tight wall and ceiling help to contain odors and dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide. Insulation also helps to keep the balance of your home warm and quiet.

Many garage Northern Virginia additions are built on a concrete slab, which provides a stable and functional surface. Be sure the slab slopes away from your house for drainage purposes, and grade around the garage addition to help maintain that concrete over the long-term.

Questions to Ask During the Planning Stage

Unlike a standard home addition that includes living space, garage additions can be designed to different standards. The size and use of this space determines whether to include heat, and dictates the location of lighting and electrical outlets. Talk to your contractor and answer the following questions to get a better grip on optimum design:

  • Do you want a Detached or Attached Garage? – One of the most important questions, this depends on your preferences and the available land on your property. Find out about local bylaws regarding setbacks and driveway access before deciding one way or the other.
  • What Size of Garage would you like? – Property limitations may have an effect on the size, but the choice between single garage, double garage or car-and-a-half should be addressed from the beginning. Think about height as well, and account for higher garage ceilings and doors if larger trucks and recreational equipment will be stored in this space.
  • What will you Store in the Garage? – Many homes include a workshop in the garage, complete with tool storage, while others use this space for overflow storage of household items, sporting equipment and gardening tools. Think about what you will keep in the garage and include storage solutions that work. Cabinets, workbenches, overhead shelving and other options will keep this area neat and tidy long after the home addition contractor finishes up.

Once you have answered these questions, you’ll need to decide on the exterior finish and roofing. Match the existing materials or choose a complementary style—neutral vinyl siding matches most types of exterior finish. On attached garage additions, roofing must blend into the existing structure. In some cases a large-scale roof replacement is required.

Designing functional garages with Northern Virginia additions takes careful consideration. Plan well and hire an experienced contractor to be sure this addition adds value to your property. Your family will enjoy the convenience of a new garage, and appreciate the benefits on a daily basis.

Top Three Northern Virginia Additions That Work Best for Families

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

Today’s families follow a busy lifestyle, often traveling between school, work and other activities at breakneck speeds. Families need a comfortable and functional place to call home, and plenty of space within that home to relax. These top three Northern Virginia additions help modern families to live better and wiser in their current homes.


Main Floor Home Addition

Expanding your main floor allows you to make the family room or kitchen larger. Upgrade your cabinets, add an island or incorporate a breakfast nook in a larger kitchen. Or stretch out the family room to include a home theater system, billiard table or an open play area. The design possibilities are seemingly endless with Northern Virginia additions on the main floor.

Costs for this type of addition can be substantial, depending on the location and scope. Ask your home addition contractor whether a foundation extension is required, and talk about how to adjust the existing roofline to help the addition blend in. Opt for less expensive exterior finishing (vinyl siding as opposed to brick veneer, for example) and avoid making alterations to major structural components.

Sunroom Addition

Sunrooms are often an extension to the main floor living space, but fit into a more limited description than the choice above. You can incorporate your kitchen or family room into this space, but the glass windows reduce privacy and virtually eliminate usable wall space for artwork and shelving.

This type of home addition provides natural light for your family room or kitchen, and offers a unique place for a home office, dining room or lounging space. Think about using your sunroom for informal dining or a quiet nook for studying and catching up on your reading. It can be a place of serenity in your bustling house, or act as a gateway to outdoor living when combined with a beautiful deck or patio.

Sunrooms offer a slightly cheaper option for additional space on the main floor, but do not always provide year-round comfort. You’ll need to invest in well-insulated glazing and high quality window frames to ensure the room remains comfortable in cold weather. Sunrooms often come in prefab kits, which limits size and layout, but can be custom-made for a price.

Loft Addition or Attic Refurbishment

When the footprint of your existing house has used up all available space on the property, look to the skies for a home addition. Many families appreciate the value of a loft addition, which can be used for additional bedrooms, an expanded family bathroom or a second- or third-floor family room. Attic refurbishments take the existing space and update or complete the finishing process, resulting in a comfortable living space above the second floor or garage.

This type of home improvement project works well for families with teenagers, providing them with private space within the safety of your walls. Consider including another bathroom in the top floor addition, installed directly above the main bath for efficient plumbing design.

Whether you decide on a main floor addition, sunroom or loft addition your family can enjoy greater relaxation with these Northern Virginia additions. Talk to an experienced contractor about the ideal option for your property and get the house your family deserves.