Renovations and Extensions Design and Planning

Do you need to add on in order to keep up with your family’s growing needs? Renovating or adding onto your home is very common, but planning a renovation can be a little bit more complicated than designing a new home. Knowing what you want and being able to ask yourself the proper questions will help the process run more smoothly.

Designing a renovation.

Designing a renovation involved more than knocking out a wall or adding onto the back yard. Just as with a new home design, planning for a renovation requires a consideration of:

  • what features you want to add on
  • arranged those features in relation to your existing floor plan
  • and their required dimensions.

Prioritize the features that you intend to add and make certain that the space for those features is provided for first. Once you’re happy with your primary features, arrange the other features around them.

Removing walls.

Before knocking out an interior or exterior wall, you need to know everything there is to know about that wall before you even begin the process. What is inside, above or on the other side of the wall you plan to remove will require some special considerations. Here are the questions that you need to ask yourself before you plan to remove a wall or feature:

  • What is inside the wall? Hidden electrical, plumbing and other mechanical chases could be located inside the wall that you’re planning to remove and you will need to plan for their relocation.
  • Is the wall load bearing or non-load bearing? In many cases, the wall that you are planning to remove helps to hold up the structure, whether another floor or a roof. It is essential that proper support is given for the structural members that are using the wall for support to be considered and planned for, so that you don’t cause your house to collapse.
  • What is outside the wall? If you’re looking at removing an exterior wall, you will need to consider what is on the outside of the wall, such as electrical disconnects, air conditioner condensers, fences and other structures that might need to be relocated. Consideration for their relocation needs to be put into your design as well.

It is much better to know what you’re getting yourself into during the planning stage and account for every possible consideration instead of having to deal with a surprise, which often times ends up costing you more than you had originally planned to spend.

Exterior Additions

When planning an exterior addition, you need to consider all of the above questions as you put together your design, but you will also need to ask yourself several more questions that are unique to what is required to add on and integrate that addition into your existing structure.

  • Are there any underground utility lines in the area where you plan to build your addition? Gas lines, sewer lines, electrical lines and automatic sprinkler lines need to be accounted for and their relocation needs to be added into your design.
  • How do you plan to tie into your existing roof? Sometimes the most challenging part of an addition is dealing with how it will tie into your existing roof or wall while making certain you don’t cause any leaks.
  • How will you get water away from your new addition? Providing for proper drainage so that you don’t create a leaking or flooding problem has to be considered.
  • What and where are my property setback lines? Most local building codes have front yard, side yard and back yard setback dimensions, which prohibit you from building a certain distance from the property between public access and your neighbour’s property line. You will need to know those dimensions as you plan to make sure that your addition fits within those lines.

Consulting a professional

If you’re unable to answer any of the above questions adequately or simply can’t seem to make what you need come together the way you want it, a professional designer or builder will probably save you both money and headaches down the road. Besides being able to help you with the design, they can give you advice on local building codes and even help you in the process of applying for a variance when special circumstances require it.


Keeping up with your family’s growing needs often requires an addition or renovation of your existing home. Though it’s a little trickier to plan for and design, if you ask yourself the right questions and/or consult the right professionals to help you, you can provide the necessary, extra space that you need.

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