How to Lower Home Addition Costs — BVM Contracting
Whenever people first look at completing a home addition, they often are surprised to see the magnitude of total project costs. A home addition in Toronto (based on our own pricing and budgeting in 2022/2023) can easily range anywhere from $400 000 – $800 000 (taxes included), depending on:
The amount of the existing house being renovated
How much additional square footage is being created
What the existing conditions of the house are
What the starting square footage of the house is.
Since the range provided above is so variable it is always recommended to submit your home’s property information to us so we can start the process of giving you a budget for your project. There are many different types of homes in Toronto and many different client needs, which is why we created our renovation consultation service. By completing our renovation consultation will be able to get a better idea of what your realistic costs will be for your project BEFORE you commit to completing the design and permitting. We would rather be honest upfront and let you wait to do the project properly than string people along.
Through our experience pricing out home addition projects in Toronto, we have narrowed down the key areas you should focus on to keep costs lower for your project. Take a look below and if you have any additional questions we welcome you to reach out!
Cost saving Idea 1: Involve a Home Builder or General Contractor in the design phase
This idea is simple but powerful. Why wouldn’t you try to involve a Home Addition Contractor in the design phase if they are the ones who will be pricing out the project? The earlier in the design process they can get involved, the sooner you can pivot away from costly design details. The fact of the matter is your architect or designer working with you on your permit submission drawings will not know the costs of your project from beginning to end, no matter how handy they are. So get an experienced home addition team with the estimating and budgeting experience involved in the design phase as soon as possible!
Cost saving Idea #2: Top-up versus extension
There are essentially two ways you can add more space to your existing home – horizontally or vertically. If you have the ability to just build on top (vertical) of your existing home, that will trim the budget versus doing the same amount of square footage with an extension (horizontal). The reason for this has to do with the additional steps involved in completing an extension, you have to create a new foundation that usually comes with intensive excavation and foundation prepwork. Extensions being included as part of a home addition are not always avoidable depending on your needs, but it is something to consider. There are other ways to maximize a top-up addition project, like completing a cantilever, that can be explored versus completing an extension as well.
The only exception to this rule is if you are completing underpinning work in your basement, there may be some efficiencies that come with completing a rear extension in this scenario due to the ability to machine dig the basement versus a manual dig. This is on a case-by-case basis so reach out to us to discuss.
Cost saving Idea #3: Keep existing brick cladding for main level intact and Exterior finishes
If you take a look at our page that goes into detail about the different types of home additions you will see a before and after picture of one of our home addition projects that maintained the existing brick on most of the main level of the home (which started as a bungalow). We were able to get a brick match for the second level and the outcome can speak for itself. The exterior finishing costs for this were substantially reduced because less surface area was affected.
Even if you are planning on recladding everywhere, it is important to use materials that are not super costly, and work with both your Designer and General Contractor to come up with a finish that does not break the bank.
Cost Saving Idea #4: Basement refinishing and Renovations
Many times when people are planning substantial renovations and home addition projects, they try to get everything done at once. There are certain benefits to doing it this way, but if you are trying to be cost-conscious with your home addition it would be a good idea to reduce the overall square footage of the existing house being renovated. An easy way to do this is to remove any basement refinishing from your home addition scope, it will allow you to focus on your needs of why you are doing the home addition in the first place and can always be done after in a secondary project to the home.
We have recommended this countless times to our clients and will continue to do so to help them save money.
Cost-saving idea #5: Salvaging existing HVAC equipment
If you have recently invested in a furnace, air conditioner, or hot water system, these items can easily be reused for home additions, as long as they are sized properly for the new square footage and heat loss of the home.
During the design phase you will need to obtain an HVAC design that will give a heat loss calculation for sizing your furnace and AC systems. If the BTU/hr (for your furnace) and tonnage (of your air conditioner) is higher than the numbers listed you should be able to salvage them.
Cost Saving idea #6: Salvaging finishes from your existing home
This is probably an unpopular opinion across the board for many General Contractors, but with the rise of the circular economy in residential construction it is worth noting. If there is anything in your existing home that you are looking to salvage (whether that be kitchen cabinets, door handles, lighting, doors, etc. ) you should make sure you can allocate some time to coordinate getting them safely removed from the home to be either reused in your new home or sold.
Just note that if you are planning on reusing fixtures that the onus will be on you to make sure they are stored safely and have all of the hardware needed to be reinstalled.
We have helped clients create a section of their scope that includes salvaging with great success, but need to be some level of involvement from the client in order to make it happen.
Cost Saving Idea #7: Plumbing Fixture locations
When designing your home it is important to note that the closer plumbing fixtures are to each other (both horizontally and vertically) the more efficient the plumbing work will be. For example, if there is a way to have a common wall between your ensuite bathroom and second bathroom on your second storey addition, then you should try to make that work. Even better, if the bathrooms are located above the existing plumbing stack for the home it will make a plumber’s job way less labour intensive.
Cost Saving Idea #8: Sourcing your own finishes
This is something we allow all of our clients to do, and it saves them quite a bit of money because we are not charging extra to source finishes on their behalf (which other General Contractors and Home Builders do). We pass along any contractor discounts to our clients with our preferred list of vendors, which allows them to save even more money. The dual benefit of this is it allows the clients to feel more involved in the home addition process.
Cost Saving Idea #9: Completing Portions of the project yourself (DIY)
Many times our more handy clients ask us if they can take on portions of the project that they have prior experience with. This has included tiling, trim/door installations, flooring, and painting. We understand that labour is not cheap with many trades, so for the clients that have the time, experience, and patience this is a quick way to save a bunch of money.
Just note that we only allow our clients to take on work AFTER the Drywall Finishing stage, any work before will need to be completed by BVM-managed subcontractors. This is to prevent any delays in the work and to ensure quality behind the walls.
Cost Saving Idea #10: Reduce the Amount of Tiled surfaces
The cost to supply and install tile can range between $20-30 per square foot, whereas with hardwood you would be around the $10-15 per square foot range. Compare that to vinyl (which would come in around $6-8 per square foot) and your savings from swapping out your finished flooring material can be substantial!
Cost Saving Idea #11: Trusses versus hand-framed roofs
Lumber is an obviously expensive line item nowadays with home additions and home building projects across Toronto, but so can the labour portion of framing if you are not careful. The one thing you can do with the lumber line item that can save you money is designing the roof system so that trusses can be installed, versus having to hand frame the roof.
Cost Saving Idea #12: Reduce or remove Steel beams
This is not always avoidable depending on your design, but if you care a lot about costs it would be best to have your designer or architect design your home addition with the intention of reducing or avoiding steel beams wherever possible.
These are just some of the more popular ideas that we have come up with clients and designers to reduce the overall cost of a home addition project during the design phase. We always recommend getting ourselves involved during the design process, it is a bunch of work but is worth it for us and the client.
Before you get to the design phase, make sure you get in contact with a reputable General Contractor that will be able to help get you a representative budget so you can make sure you can afford the work before spending money on a design you can’t afford. Better yet, you can also find out if your home is a good candidate for a home addition by reading our blog on the topic.
About BVM COntracting
BVM Contracting is a full-service General Contractor or Home Builder located in Toronto. We provide home renovation and building services for major home renovations (kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations, basement renovations, full interior renovations, home additions, lot severances, and new home construction). Our goal is to help guide our clients through the process of renovating their home, from concept to completion.
Further than providing General Contracting and Project Management for major home renovations, we also offer value-added services such as renovation financing, renovation rebate consultations and services, building permit and design services, smart home installation services, and real estate investor services.
To learn more about our offering by visiting our services page.
Home improvements: how to pay for building work as prices rise | Home improvements
Since the first lockdown eased, many homeowners have wanted to improve their properties. The race for space has made loft conversions and extensions popular, while some of those who cannot make structural changes are considering how to remodel their homes.
“Most people have been working or otherwise spending significant amounts of time at home and, probably for the first time, really getting to know why and how their existing home wasn’t working for them,” says Sam Levene, a director of the designers and architects LLI Design. “This, together with large stamp duty costs, means it can be a significantly more appetising proposition to refurbish or extend an existing home to suit your wants and needs rather than move.”
Katy Esdon of Esdon Architecture in Salisbury has been busy since June 2020, when some of the Covid restrictions were first relaxed. “We had about six or seven months of being inundated,” she says. “It’s quietened down a bit but has been steady ever since.”
Her clients generally want extensions and “really wow” conversions – the company has designed new kitchens and remodelled the downstairs of houses to include playrooms and working from home space. There’s “lots of glazing”, Esdon says. “People are moving away from bifolding doors and are instead looking at structural glazing, large sliding panels or Crittall-style glazing as an alternative.”
The Rooflight Company says the cost of glass, steel, MDF, timber and more has increased in price since the first Covid-19 lockdown. Photograph: Rooflight Company
However, that glazing costs considerably more than it did in 2020. According to Nick Cockayne of the Rooflight Company in Oxfordshire, since the first coronavirus lockdown, “glass has increased by 6% to 12% depending on the type, steel has increased from £950 a tonne to £1,500, MDF has shot up by 38%, and silicone, timber, stainless steel and aluminium have all increased in price”.
Painful inflation is not confined to windows. According to the National Federation of Builders, material prices are changing weekly – and are on average 23.5% higher than they were last year. The cost of cement, for example, rose 1% in February, imported timber went down in price by about 20% in the same month but that followed a two-year rise of 200%. The cost of sanitary ware was up 1.9%. Water-based paint went up by 2.3%, while non-water-based paint has risen by 3.1%
“It is therefore very likely that prices [will] increase mid-build, especially for new-build or extensions,” says Rico Wojtulewicz, the head of housing and planning policy at the NFB.
Dealing with rising prices
Most companies giving estimates for home improvements will advise that prices can change – and, with the situation moving so quickly, some are making sure this is spelled out in extra-large print.
Esdon says her practice is being clear with clients about the impact of inflation. “Things have got really expensive,” she says. “We’re telling people that you don’t get as much for your money as you did two or three years ago.”
Her company is advising people to put by more than the traditional 10% contingency fund. It works with builders who are asked to give a fixed-price tender for the work. “This means there are no surprises,” she says. “But they are not valid for as long as they were – before, you might have had a couple of months to make a decision but now they are only valid for two or three weeks.”
A written quote states the price that will be charged for the work the builder has detailed. Photograph: Reeldeal Images/Alamy
A written quote states the price that will be charged for the work the builder has detailed – it cannot charge you more unless you later add jobs or change the specification of the materials being used. Make sure that everything you want is included at the outset, if possible. If prices keep rising, things that you add later may come at a higher cost than you anticipate. A builder might not be willing to give a written quote for a job that will be done some months in the future or may make it clear that the quote is only valid for a certain period.
Levene suggests that if you are responsible for buying anything for the build, “where at all possible, if you have out-of-the-way, clean, secure storage at your project, opt to order materials early and store them there. Or, if on-site storage is not possible, negotiate extended delivery dates with your suppliers so you can order something at today’s price but have it delivered as and when your project requires it.”
Most loft conversion companies, for example, ask you to supply the sanitary ware for any bath or shower room you are having installed, so you could buy this sooner rather than later.
Another option may be changing the spec of your original design – Esdon says clients are opting for cheaper cladding or different timbers to keep down costs.
To add to homeowners’ woes, there are long lead times for things such as planning permission, which mean prices could rise before you get started. Permitted development rights cover many extensions and loft conversions now, so this will not be an issue for everyone. But if you live in a conservation area or are doing work not covered by the rights, you may have a long wait.
According to the planning, architect and builder’s company Studio Charrette, case officers at some local authorities are struggling to get through a backlog. “As a result, the timeframe for consumers to get started on their projects, if they have applied to the council for permission, is in excess of three months,” it warns.
Paying for it
More people are weighing up how to remodel their homes. Photograph: Richard Gooding/LLI Design
The good news is that despite recent increases to the Bank of England base rate, borrowing through personal loans and remortgaging remains historically cheap.
Personal loans of up to £50,000 are available and can be arranged over a term of one to eight years, says Andrew Hagger, a finance expert at the website MoneyComms.
“If you’re looking to borrow £20,000 over five years, for example, you can still get rates as low as 2.8% APR with a monthly repayment of £357 – however, you’d need a pristine credit record if you want to bag those best-buy rates,” he says.
Larger loans cost more. Hagger says borrowing £35,000 over seven years starts from about 6.7% APR, which means monthly repayments of about £520. Those rates are fixed, so you do not have to worry about repayments increasing in future months.
Credit cards can be a smart way to pay for home improvements
MoneyComms’ Andrew Hagger
“It’s usually easier and quicker to borrow from your own bank as it should have all your financial details and track record to hand; however, don’t let that stop you from shopping around – the biggest banks aren’t always the cheapest,” he adds.
Some big banks will give you an instant decision and put the money in your account the next day.
A personal loan will be easier to arrange than a mortgage, typically. But on larger amounts the rate will be lower, and you can spread the repayments over a longer term.
Credit cards can be a smart way to pay for home improvements, especially if you’re looking for a smaller sum, Hagger says. There are still cards offering up to two years’ interest-free borrowing on purchases, from brands such as Barclaycard, Sainsbury’s Bank, Tesco and MBNA.
“It’s always worthwhile putting an element on your credit card, as this gives you the added section 75 protection should you hit a snag with your builder and the improvements don’t come up to scratch,” Hagger says.
Is it worth it?
Glazing costs much more than it did in 2020. Photograph: Andreas von Einsiedel/Alamy
Yes, if you like where you live and want your home to suit your needs. During the stamp duty holiday, when you could save up to £15,000 in tax, moving became more appealing to those who wanted extra space. Now that money will go some way towards buying you a basic loft conversion, with no dormer, and you will save the cost and hassle of a move.
Not necessarily, if you are hoping to recoup the costs when you move. Jonathan Rolande of the National Association of Property Buyers says that when it comes to return on investment, “loft extensions need to add a required benefit to give a return on the very high cost. If a house already has five bedrooms, will a sixth add very much? Not usually.”
He adds: “Double glazing won’t add a huge amount – buyers expect a home to have working windows. Kitchens and bathrooms that give a wow factor will help the property sell faster and for more.”
How much will the work on your home cost?
The cost of your project will vary depending on where you live, the size of your home and the scale of the building work, and your choice of fixtures and fittings. The following are guide prices (excluding VAT) for a “standard” project, taken from the website MyBuilder.com and covering the building work only.
Small single-storey extension (3 metres x 5 metres): £16,000 to £21,000.
Medium extension (4m x 6m): £26,000 to £34,000.
Large extension (6m x 8m): £52,000 to £67,000.
Creating a loft room: £17,500.
Loft conversion with dormer: £45,000.
Hip to gable loft conversion: £54,000.
PVC lean-to conservatory (4m x 3m): £9,000 to £11,000.
Edwardian-style conservatory (4m x 3m): £10,000 to £12,000.
Victorian-style conservatory (4m x 3m): £11,000 to £14,000.
Painting (two-bed flat): £1,500 to £2,500.
Painting (five-bed room): £3,500 to £5,000.
This article was amended on 3 April 2022 to clarify that the figures quoted from MyBuilder.com do not include VAT, charged at 20%, and are calculations for a standard build – noting there are many variables within a project that can affect cost.
What can be included in the tax deduction for building a house?
We have already decided that a tax deduction can be obtained not only when buying, but also when building a house. Now let’s talk about what can and cannot be included in the deduction.
What can be deducted:
- the cost of acquiring land for construction;
- the cost of a residential building as an object of construction in progress;
- costs for design and estimate documentation;
- expenses associated with connection to communications: water, gas, electricity, sewerage;
- expenses for the construction of autonomous networks and communications: water, gas, electricity, sewerage;
- construction and finishing materials;
- construction and finishing works.
And keep all payments, receipts, checks, and also conclude contracts for all types of work. You will need these documents to complete the deduction. If you lose, not everything and not always can be restored.
What cannot be included in the deduction:
- reorganization and reconstruction of the constructed house, including the construction of floors or extensions;
- redevelopment of premises in the built house;
- installation of plumbing, gas and other equipment;
- construction of adjoining buildings: swimming pool, sauna, garage, shed, fence, etc.
- a gas boiler;
- air conditioning systems;
- any plumbing equipment: shower, bath, toilet, faucets, water meters;
- production and installation of loggia glazing;
- production and installation of plastic windows;
- warm floor;
- installation of electrical wiring, telecommunications, computer network and cable television wiring.
Reason: letters of the Ministry of Finance of Russia dated January 20, 2011 No. 03-04-05 / 9-15; dated 24.08.2010 N 03-04-05/9-492; dated January 20, 2011 N 03-04-05 / 9-15; dated September 15, 2010 No. 03-04-05 / 9-545.
For example, you bought a land plot with an unfinished house, completed construction and decided to build a greenhouse on the plot. Greenhouse expenses will not be tax deductible. It will be possible to return the tax only for the purchase of land, the purchase of a house, its construction and decoration.
For more information about the tax deduction for building a house, read on our website.
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Building a frame extension
One of the most popular options for arranging an extension to a house is the use of frame structures. Such buildings are distinguished by affordable cost; environmentally friendly, safe wood is used for assembly. Design features reduce the overall load on the foundation, allow you to reduce the financial costs of the work.
A frame extension to a log house has such advantages as quick installation, the use of natural materials, and an attractive appearance. As a base, you can use a tape shallow or pile foundation, the cost of thermal insulation and wall decoration is reduced.
Stages of construction
To build a frame extension to the house, the following steps must be observed:
- design and development of the project;
- site preparation, foundation work;
- assembly of load-bearing walls using treated timber;
- sheathing of the frame, laying insulation (usually use mineral wool or non-combustible polystyrene foam)
- roofing works, filling of window and door openings;
- execution of finishing works for the facade, laying of utilities.
It is possible to start the construction of the ceiling only after the strength of the reinforcing belt has been cured. To do this, you can use a structure assembled from a wooden, pre-treated beam with a planed board flooring, moisture-resistant plywood or OSB. This reduces the load on the base, makes the floor reliable and very durable.
For a small wooden outbuilding, a pitched or double pitched roof is used. The rafters are mounted from a wooden beam, the system includes a mauerlat, rafters, crate and flooring. The structure is insulated, an additional layer of vapor barrier is laid.
Various materials are used for exterior façade work. More often these are the following options:
- vinyl, wood or metal siding;
- decorative plaster;
- sheathing with wood, block house;
- fibre-cement based decorative panels, e.g. strong “Japanese” façade.
Construction should begin with the preparation and calculations of the future structure. It is necessary to carry out measurements at the facility, geological surveys to determine the type of soil and the choice of foundation. It is also necessary to foresee what will be the adjoining to the house. Experts do not recommend hard mating, as this can lead to cracks and gradual destruction of the structure. When choosing a frame extension, the best solution would be to use a damper in the form of a vertical beam between the house and the veranda. The connection can be hinged or with embedded metal elements. Attention should also be paid to the adjoining of the new roof to the existing one. When pairing, it is recommended to equip the crate so that the joints of the old and new structures are under it.
The preparatory stage also includes the following works:
- conducting geological surveys, determining the depth of soil water, soil type on the site;
- choice of foundation, calculation of loads on the foundation;
- preparation of the site, provision of space for storage of building materials, access of equipment if necessary;
- obtaining permission for the reconstruction of a country house (this stage is best done in advance, since the cost of legalizing an already built veranda may be higher and take longer).
Foundation, assembly, roofing
The first step is to build the foundation. For a frame extension, the following options are used:
- low-depth tape;
- support on screw piles.
About the second case, the cost of a frame extension to the house will be lower, installation time is also required less. It takes a couple of days to build the structure, after which you can immediately start assembling the structure. Piles are great for weak or heaving soils if the installation is planned on a slope.
Next, the foundation is tied and the zero overlap is laid, for which timber and moisture-resistant flooring are used. The frame of external walls and internal partitions is assembled. The next step is the installation of the truss system, the crate of the structure. Plywood, chipboard or OSB is used for wall cladding, mineral or eco-wool, fire-resistant polystyrene foam are recommended as insulation. The roof covering can be different, but for frame extensions, metal tiles, ondulin, flexible bituminous tiles and other materials that do not create serious loads on the walls are recommended.
Risks and mistakes
Many owners of summer cottages, in order to save money, start construction without having experience. But this leads to a number of errors and the risk of a significant increase in spending. The probable risks and mistakes of such an unqualified construction of an extension include:
- lack of clear planning and design of the future structure;
- foundation work without preliminary load calculations;
- use of lumber without pre-treatment with antiseptics and flame retardants, checking the moisture content of wood;
- savings on material, purchase of boards of small thickness, without taking into account loads;
- wrong choice of thermal insulation, lack of wind and vapor protection membrane when finishing;
- installation of doors and windows without alignment, on racks that are not yet fixed;
- selection of a heavy roof covering that exerts excessive loads and does not match the selected type of foundation.