23 April 2019,
Over time, expansion of a house becomes necessary for several reasons. A growing family, changing lifestyles, new hobbies, or simply a need for more living space can make a homeowner consider house enlargement or expansion.
When you don’t have adequate space for your family or for your possessions, buying a new home is not always the option. Not only is it expensive and difficult to buy a house in the Greater Toronto Area but selling your current house can also be a major undertaking. With real estate prices in Toronto soaring, many homeowners are considering a house expansion rather than moving to a new home.
In addition, expanding a house in Toronto can also result in a great return on investment, particularly if you plan to sell now or in the near future.
Find out how you can plan a house expansion and get an estimate for the cost of your project from qualified professionals from our vast network.
Planning a house expansion in Toronto: what do you need?
What does a house expansion include? Do you need to get professionals to do the job?
These are just some of the questions we want to answer in order to help you with your project.
Consider the size and design you need
What type of addition or expansion do you want? You can customize the size and design you need that meets your needs. A home expansion or home addition project will help you create additional floor space such as rooms or common areas such as an outdoor patio or sundeck or an entire second floor.
From the outset, it is critical to speak to specialists who can help you determine how to efficiently use your space and maximize it. You can avoid changing your roof or foundation or giving up a beautifully landscaped area. Experienced designers and contractors can provide you with the recommendations and plans you need to meet your goal.
What kind of home expansion or addition do you want?
There are several popular home expansion projects which include second or third-floor additions, a detached addition, an additional room, a garage or carport, a patio or deck.
An extra room is a popular idea among young families as the need for an additional bedroom for growing teenagers or a guest room. You can do this by building out or up.
This kind of expansion may require building an additional structure that integrates with the house.
The cost for this type of project could be from $85 to over $200 per sq. ft., depending on your choices.
✓ It is a good idea to have an architect on board to make sure that the new room blends well with your home’s overall design and layout.
✓ It is also important to have an engineer to check that the plans are sound.
✓ You will also need a general contractor to execute the project.
Generally used as an additional living room, a sunroom can be part of the main house, separate, or closed off.
Usually, a sunroom is smaller in size than a regular home addition and can utilize pre-fabricated materials. They also aren’t used all-year round and don’t have heating or air-conditioning.
AN INCOME SUITE
An income suite is a popular addition, particularly when you need help making the mortgage payments or if the kids have flown the coop and you have extra space.
As the name implies, an income suite can be rented out, for instance, by converting the basement or adding another floor to the house.
A garage conversion involves turning a 1 or 2-car attached garage into additional living space such as an extra bedroom or living room by adding a wall, ceiling, and replacing floors.
Some typical requirements may not be present such as plumbing which could bump up the costs.
Keep in mind that while it is tempting to turn a garage into extra living space, it could reduce the value of your home. It is more difficult, in general, to sell a house without a garage.
A second or third-floor addition to a house can increase the living space tremendously.
Generally, a floor addition aims to add another bedroom and bathroom, an income suite, a family room, etc. For this type of project, it is advisable to hire a general contractor and prepare an architectural design for the best outcome.
Home additions or expansions provide the extra space and style that a homeowner needs. They can be low-cost, do-it yourself projects or
expensive full-size projects that would require an architect, plumber, electrician, and a general contractor.
Do you need a building permit for your house expansion?
As the owner of the property, you are principally responsible for making sure that you comply with the city or local government’s requirements. If you fail to do so, you could face delays that would increase your overall cost or worse, be subject to legal action or told to remove the work you have already completed.
By having a professional contractor or builder by your side, you can avoid such costly delays and headaches.
Types of Projects that need a building permit
The Ontario Building Code Act requires that a building permit be obtained for constructing a new building, demolishing a building, or making significant alterations to an existing structure or building. Below are some of the projects that mandate a building permit in Toronto.
- Constructing a new structure or building.
- Addition of a structure to an existing building.
- An additional floor, 2nd or 3rd floor
- Porch, patio, deck
- Attached garage, carport
- Structural or material changes such as:
- Removing walls to change room size or design
- Enlarging windows or transferring current doors
- Adding windows or doors
- The enclosure of a patio, deck, or porch regardless of size
- Additional accessorial structures (bigger than 10 sq. meters or 108 sq. ft.) such as a pool house or cabana or a gardenshed
- An accessorial structure, regardless of size, if it will be attached to a structure or will need plumbing
- Finished basement
- Material and structural changes
- Excavation of the foundation or constructing a foundation
- Modifying or installing a heat and/or plumbing system
- The underpinning of a basement
- Addition of an extra suite
- Constructing an entrance
- Installing or improving more energy-efficient systems such as:
- Roof-top retention systems for stormwater
- A green roof
- Structures for supporting wind turbine generators that have an output of 3kW or more
- Solar-related projects including a solar collection system or a solar hot water system
- Construction of a deck that is over 60 centimeters above the ground.
- Constructing a retaining wall that is more than 1 meter tall if the retaining wall is located on or adjacent to public property or private property with public access
- Construction of a tent with more than 646 sq. ft. that is attached to an existing building or is up to 3 meters away from another structure.
- Demolition or removal of a whole or a portion of a structure
- Installation of chimneys or fireplaces
- Installation of a backwater valve
- Installation of wood-burning fireplaces or stoves
- Installation of a device for backflow prevention
- Change of the use of the building or a portion thereof from residential to business or from a single-dwelling to multiple dwelling.
This list may not be complete or updated. You can get in touch with the Toronto Building to apply for a permit or obtain more information.
Buy a new home vs. home expansion
People often wonder if it is better to just buy a new home than build more space with a home addition project. We want to address this question by properly looking at the benefits of buying vs. a home expansion.
First of all, you must consider the reasons why you need more space. When the number of people in a home increases, discomfort can ensue and buying a bigger house becomes an easy option.
As a first step, look at your financial capacity. Can you afford to buy a new home at this time? You may want to talk to a good real estate agent about selling your house and buying a new one to see if this is something you really want to do at this time.
You must remember that to sell a home and buy a new one can take longer depending on the demand in your area and the price.
There are also many expenses related to selling and buying a house which you must prepare for.
Benefits of buying a new home for more space
This decision will really depend on various factors. Are you happy with your current neighborhood? Does zoning regulations allow you to do the type of home expansion you want? Can you afford to buy a new house right now?
If the answers to these questions necessitate buying a new house, you can obtain the following benefits.
- Any real estate agent would tell you that a real estate investment is always about location. Buying a new house could offer you the opportunity to invest in a better neighborhood or a more convenient location.
- A major renovation such as a home addition can be stressful and arduous. It demands flexibility and patience, especially if you will continue to live in the home while it is being renovated. Buying a new house helps you to avoid the inconveniences of an on-going construction.
- Buying a new house for more space allows you more flexibility because you can choose from a variety of properties whereas a home addition limits you to the available space in your existing home.
Keep in mind, however, that you will need to qualify for a new mortgage if you decide to buy a new house. If you have recently changed jobs or have substantial debt, it may not be the right time to buy a new home.
Is it cheaper to make a home addition?
It can be significantly cheaper to make a home addition especially if you just need an extra bathroom or bedroom. There are so many options to a home addition, including adding another floor to a bungalow or finishing a basement.
You can also have full control over the design of your home addition to manage your budget.
A home addition makes more sense if you don’t want to leave the neighborhood and feel an emotional attachment to your current home. It also helps you to avoid the hassles of having to pack up and move. Moving costs can also be substantial, depending on the size of your move.
The cost of a home expansion project in Toronto
The most pressing question on the minds of most homeowners that are thinking of a home expansion is the cost.
The price to expand or enlarge a house differs greatly from one project to another. Generally, you will need to consider the following:
✓ Architectural fees (from 10% up) of the project cost.
✓ Excavation or demolition fees
✓ Drywall expenses which could amount to as much as $2,000 for an area which covers 1000 sq. ft.
✓ Framing expenses which could also cost thousands of dollars depending on the floor area
✓ Roofing expenses
✓ Fees for electricians
✓ Plumbing expenses
✓ Appliances, fixtures, furniture, etc. for the new living space
Considering the above, the cost of a home expansion project can range from $20,000 to $65,000 but it will all depend on your choices. The average cost of a home expansion in Toronto is from $85 to $200 per sq. ft.
Second or Third-floor addition for extra living space
As a family grows, space becomes a problem. In Toronto, land is unbelievably expensive and a need for space doesn’t always require buying a bigger home. Many people look to a second or third-floor addition as a solution to a lack of living space.
It is possible to add another room to a second story or add a new floor to a single-storey house. Talk to the right specialists to get the most ideal options based on your individual situation.
Extra space by building up, not out!
Also called a bump out addition, adding a second floor can be the perfect solution to your need for more living space. By doing so, you avoid having to sell your house to buy a new one or giving up your beloved trees or backyard.
In the GTA, cramped space is a big issue. Adding a second-floor to a bungalow can even increase the home value and provide a high return on investment which is estimated at 80%.
Take the opportunity to renovate the entire house
When you add another storey to your existing home, it can be the ideal time to renovate the entire house. You can modernize the kitchen, add an office, or put a deck you can enjoy for many years.
Money-saving Tips: Reduce the cost of a home addition
It makes a lot of sense to expand a kid’s room if the kid has grown into a teenager, or to enlarge a kitchen or tiny bathroom to provide more convenience and comfort. However, it is understandable that you want to keep the costs down without sacrificing the benefits of your project in terms of aesthetics and space.
How can you reduce the costs of a home addition? Consider the following simple tips to help you stay within your budget.
Stay faithful to your budget.
Many homeowners start a project with a budget plan but when a home expansion project is underway, costs go awry. Non-professionals can get excited during the project and make emotional decisions on their purchases without watching the costs
To avoid going over your budget, make a list of purchases and stay on top of expenditures when choosing tiles, fixtures, and furniture.
Shop around for the best home addition specialists.
Depending on the type of home addition you plan to do, it is advisable to get professional help. Some people think they can save money by doing the work themselves. In the end, though, you could blow more money because of mistakes.
Look for sales for big purchases.
Big ticket items such as appliances, furniture, electronics, fixtures, etc. go on sale at certain times. You can save a lot of money by researching when to buy expensive items for your home expansion project.
Schedule your home expansion during off-season.
Professionals are often hard to find during the summer because the demand for their services is high. It can be stressful waiting to be called back by an electrician or contractor as they may be busy with projects.
You may get a better price for their services during off-season.
Home Additions that add value to your home
It is important to keep in mind that not all additions or expansions add value to your home but most of them do. In undertaking a home expansion project, make it your goal to improve the family’s quality of life while increasing the overall value of your home.
Popular home additions that homeowners consider include adding a kitchen or bathroom.
Here are a few home expansions that increase your home’s value if you decide to sell in the future:
A kitchen is one of the most important areas in a house and definitely has a huge impact on your home’s value. Even if your house is in a great location such as a historic neighborhood, if your kitchen is antiquated, the selling price would be reduced and it could take time to sell the house in the future.
With that in mind, planning a kitchen remodel to enlarge and modernize it will add to your comfort and convenience and also increase your home’s worth.
Adding an extra bathroom
Putting in an extra bathroom (especially if you have 3 bedrooms and only 1 bathroom) can significantly improve the family’s quality of life as well as increase the value of your home. A half-bath would usually need at least 18 sq. feet while a full bath needs a minimum of 30 sq. ft.
An extra bathroom can be a costly project but it would depend on the accessories and fixtures you want.
Adding a deck
A deck is definitely fun as it gives you more usable outdoor space. The cost of putting in a deck varies significantly based on the size, the design, the accessories you choose, and the type of work you opt for (contractor or do-it-yourself).
More energy-efficient windows
Many homeowners upgrade the quality of their homes by putting in more energy-efficient windows. According to Energy Star, energy-efficient windows can give you savings as much as $500 annually due to lower cooling costs.
You can spend as much as $7,000 to $10,000 to replace old windows to make them more energy-efficient but the expense can be recouped after several years and they certainly add to your home’s value.
Do not overlook simple ways of increasing storage space, especially in your furnace room or your entryway.
There are also many ways to add value to a house without having to expand it.
If your budget is limited and you want to limit your expenses, the popular show hgtv has great ideas.
Avoid making these Home Expansion Mistakes
Not all home addition projects turn out well. Mistakes can cost a lot of money and regret is hard to live with. Consider the following before you start a home expansion or addition in Toronto.
Mistake # 1: Not planning well or rushing plans for a home addition.
A home extension or addition is a major undertaking that requires careful planning and research. By starting the process with a knowledgeable architect or designer, you can be off to a good start. Set out your goals and what you want to avoid getting side-tracked.
Mistake # 2: Underestimating the cost of your home addition.
To help you plan your budget, a sunroom designed by an architect could easily cost you more than $35,000, depending on the materials you choose. A home extension with a new room or another storey could range from $100,000 to over $200,000. Underestimating the cost of your project can seriously wreak havoc to your finances.
Mistake # 3: Neglecting to check on zoning and other municipal regulations.
Before embarking on a home addition project, check on municipal regulations that cover your area.
For instance, in Toronto, the location and size of the building is regulated starting from the rear, front, and side of the property. There is also a maximum height which is the height from the ground to the roof.
A renovation or home expansion specialist can give you a lot of valuable input regarding zoning and other restrictions.
Mistake # 4: Taking on more than you can handle.
Many homeowners want to save on the costs so they try to take on some or all of the work involved. This is well and good if you have the skills and the time. But this isn’t the right time to experiment or try to make it up as you go along. If you aren’t skilled or knowledgeable about construction, defer to professionals to make sure the project is up to standards and avoid waste.
Mistake # 5: Not choosing your contractors carefully.
It is easy enough to find a referral from a friend or relative when it comes to hiring a contractor. However, don’t limit yourself to such few options. Remember, you would have your own criteria, preferences, and goals that don’t necessarily match theirs. Take the time to choose contractors by comparing multiple offers and interviewing candidates very well.
A home addition project is a major renovation. It could require changing certain aspects of your home such as the entrance, layout, etc. For this reason, it is advisable to work with a home renovation professional that specializes in home extension or home addition.
Most common questions about home expansion in Toronto
People who want to venture into a home expansion in Toronto naturally have many concerns and questions. We have compiled some of the most common ones to give you a better understanding of the subject.
Can I add a third-floor to my existing house?
Adding a third-floor to your existing house in Toronto is possible but check out the height restrictions and other regulations concerning the roof. Please check the zoning regulations in Toronto to avoid any problems.
Do I need a contractor for a home addition project?
It is definitely recommended to hire a contractor for a home addition project. It is a huge financial investment you are making to your most important asset. Surely, you want to ensure it is done according to set standards and that it turns out aesthetically pleasing and optimizes your living space. Do-it-yourself home renovations are best left for small projects. If you are adding another room, another floor, or building up or out, it is ideal to hire a contractor for the many aspects of the project. It is also important to ensure the integrity of your existing structure and that it is capable of supporting an additional floor. An engineer will be able to help you determine this crucial issue.
Will a home addition increase my home’s selling price?
A home addition or expansion immediately increases living space and functionality while potentially increasing the aesthetics of a home. Potential buyers are attracted by a bigger space, more storage room, adequate number of bedrooms and toilets, as well as a roomy and modern kitchen.
These are but some of the home additions that can potentially increase your home’s net worth if done correctly.
Can I get a home expansion loan in Toronto?
Yes, it is possible to get financing for a home expansion. You can approach your mortgage lender or bank if it is possible to refinance your mortgage or obtain a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). It is best to speak to a mortgage specialist or mortgage broker for your financing needs.
How much is the down-payment for a home addition contractor?
It is not common to pay a large amount of money upfront to a contractor for a down-payment. A large project costing $100,000 and above would typically require a 10 down-payment and have a payment schedule based on the work progress.
How much does it cost for a home addition in Toronto?
If you need an accurate estimate for your home expansion project, it is important to take into account several factors including cost of labor, materials, fixtures, and incidental costs like permits, storage, etc. You may also require the services of an engineer or an architect.
If you want a detailed cost estimate for a home addition project, you have to consider several things such as labor, materials, and fixture. You also need to think of the cost of hiring an architect as well as a structural engineer.
Generally, a home addition project in Toronto can cost from $21,000 to as much as $200,000 for a second-floor addition.
Is it better to build out or build up?
In Toronto where land is “sacred”, building up can be more ideal than building out. By adding another floor, you retain the original footprint of your home while increasing space. Your option would depend on height restrictions in your area and your engineer must check the foundation if it can support your additional floor. Adding a second or third floor will not require excavation work or re-landscaping so it can be less expensive than building out.
Building out involves adding a structure on the ground level which is advisable if you have available space and you want a minimum of disruption. There are extra costs to building out which includes building a foundation. You will also lose your outdoor space.
The choice to build up or out depends on a number of factors such as your space, budget, and your local zoning regulations. Speak to a professional contractor to get the best options.
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How to choose the best contractor for your home expansion?
Many people who have experienced a home expansion project will tell you that hiring the right contractor is critical to the success of your project.
A home expansion or addition requires a lot of time and money invested on your part. Surely, you don’t want just anyone to do the work. Keep in mind that mistakes can result in further expenses, not to mention, potential risks to your family’s safety and comfort.
With that being said, it is important to choose a contractor not only by looking at the price but also his experience and quality of work.
CHECKLIST FOR HIRING THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR
This checklist will help you make the best choice for a contractor:
1. Obtain multiple quotes or estimates.
It is important to talk to multiple contractors and get written estimates to consider. Ensure that the estimates have the same scope of work, methods, timeline, and materials so that you are comparing prices accurately.
2. Opt for qualified local contractors as much as possible.
It is better to hire local contractors because they are familiar with the building code as well as municipal requirements in your area.
3. Ask for written estimates.
Make sure to ask for written estimates from contractors and avoid those that are too low or high.
4. Ask for references for their previous work.
Check to see if the contractor you are considering specializes in the type of project you have. Inquire about the past work and their local reputation as well as their service to past clients. It is possible to check with the Better Business Bureau about their professional reputation and accreditation.
5. Verify the contractor’s insurance and bond.
A contractor must be insured properly. You can request a copy of the company’s certificate of insurance. This is important so you can avoid liability for any accidents on your property during construction.
Make a smart decision when hiring the contractor for your home expansion or addition.
Do your homework and find the right professional for your needs.
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