What Actually Happens When You Put on an Addition?

Have you ever wondered what happens when you put on an addition?

Most people are pretty excited to start their addition / renovation project but unclear about what actually happens at the beginning phase. I thought I would walk you through the beginning process.


This beach cottage is in need of some additional square footage for the homeowners who are moving into the house as year-round residents. We are putting on an 18’ x 26’ addition on the first floor to house the kitchen/ dining area as well as a staircase and second floor to a master suite. The master suite will have a second-floor deck that also will function as the roof to the new covered entry.



Clean out the house. This is typically easier said than done. Most homeowners resist doing this but it will make the project move much faster and lower the risk of damage to your personal property if you simply pack everything up and move out. Renting a storage container that will sit on the site is a reasonable and inexpensive option.


Permitting. All plans need to be complete and permits pulled prior to breaking ground. On this project, I was revising the construction drawings completed by another architect so we were under an intense timeline since there was already a start date determined. In Maine, everyone is anxious to pour foundations in October in order to get the house tight before winter, so moving the start date is rarely an option.


Excavation. A good excavation crew can use a back hoe like it’ a pencil. It’s an amazing talent. Check out the outdoor shower sitting right at the edge of the excavated hole!

The hole is always dug quite a big wider than the footings in order to get the footings.


Foundation. The grade level and the top of foundation have to be perfect in order to set the stage for the entire project. Houses are built from the bottom up, if there is a mistake in the footprint, the walls and ultimately the roof will show the error.


We decided to have a “Door Access” to the basement vs. a bulkhead. This means that there is a 36” wide door and steep stairs down to the basement. These are pre-cast molded stairs that you see here are a great help in creating easy basement access and a more attractive solution.

Now, I always chuckle when I see my plans on site – clients pay a lot for them. They are usually on a floor of a truck or wadded up in the corner so I’m glad to see these being used and still in good shape.

Join me in watching this project being built throughout the winter!


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