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.

4 Steps for Planning and Designing Your New Home

You have the land purchased and you’re ready to build your new home. What next? When it comes to planning and designing your new home, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. By following these 4 steps to help you get started with the process, you can make the vision that you have for your new home become a reality.

1. How to Get Started.

How do you take all of those things you’ve always wanted in your home and have them incorporated into the building of your new house? Researching and brainstorming the essential characteristics you want in your new home is the beginning point. Here are some basic research elements to consider:

  • Photos and clippings of home designs that catch your eye.
  • Sample floor plans with the features that you want to change or add.
  • Dimensions of essential features such as; fireplaces, kitchen fixtures, special furniture, rooms or equipment.
  • An understanding of your building budget.

If you know what you want, it makes it a great deal easier to communicate those needs with your designer and ultimately the builder to help avoid confusion during the building process.

2. Creating a Basic Floor Plan.

To create a basic floor plan, you have to know what space you want and need and what dimensions you want each of those spaces to have. One of the best ways to come up with a rough floor plan is to take one or two of the home designs that you like and find the floor plan that matches it.

Taking a piece of poster board or cardboard, begin by laying out the front wall line that matches an elevation design that you like. Because the front elevation of your house will change in accordance with what you do with the floor plan, it is essential that you do as little as possible to change that wall line.

Make photo copies of the plans you researched and then cut out the rooms and features that you want to incorporate into your new home. Pick the top three or four features and arrange them before arranging lower priority elements around them. Start moving them around in an arrangement that suits how you envision the space being used in your new home. Stick them in place with double sided tape.

Try to incorporate features that are going to require plumbing or special mechanical space near each other to simplify the mechanical layout and, consequently, the cost of building your home. This also maximizes your actual living space.

3. Front Elevation.

The front elevation of a house is what people will see as they drive by or as they walk up to your front door and ring the doorbell. This element of your home design is as essential as the floor plan when considering the finished product. If you have remained true with the front wall of your floor design, then it should, generally, match that design.

You can do the same thing with the elevation as you did with the floor plan, by making a photo copy of the elevation and then taping other features that you like onto it.

To get a true picture of your home design and to transform that vision into a set of plans that can be used for construction, you are going to have to take what you have to a designer.

4. Selecting a Designer.

With your ideas pulled together, you need to select someone to help you put those ideas into a set of plans for a builder. A knowledgeable designer at this stage can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. A knowledgeable designer must know how to:

  • Estimate the square footage costs of the design you would like to build for your area.
  • Get the best usage of space in each room of your home.
  • Arrange special features in order to make them work in the construction process.
  • Follow local codes and regulations and explain how they are going to affect the construction of your home and its costs.
  • Communicate your wants and needs with the person who actually builds the home.

Many builders are also designers or have designers on their staff who are specially qualified in all of the above areas. In cases where you work with an independent designer make certain that your desires are clearly and specifically spelled out in the building plans.


By making use of these 4 steps to plan and design your new home, you can better communicate to your designer and ultimately your builder exactly what you want and need to have featured in your home. Having a good idea what you want before consulting with your designer can help make the vision for your new home become reality.