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Question DetailsAsked on 6/27/2016

Should I get bids for an addition before placing an offer to buy a home?

I'm looking to purchase a home but I know I would want to add a small addition. Is it recommended and/or to get bids from contractors before placing an offer on the home?

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1 Answer


Certainly you should know the approximate cost of the addition if you are looking at the total cost, including addition, as the "house" you want - so you know how much the purchase plus addition will cost to compare with other homes which already hae the square footage or features you want.

In almost all cases, you can buy a house with the features and footage you want cheaper than buying a house that is close and then upgrading or adding on - especially when talking structural work rather than just interior decorating or finishes.

It is unlikely that a propearty owner, dealing with a potential buyer, would want or allow the amount of access to the house that you are talking about to get actual bids on a house that is not yet under contract for sale to that buyer - nor would contractors want to bid on a house addition you might not actually build because you might not end up buying that house.

Plus the time it takes to get bids to get a price range for the addition, unless this is a house that is "available" but not "on the market", would make it highly unlikely that the bids would be timely - house would quite likely sell to another buyer in that timeframe before you knew what the cost would be for the addition.

Best you can do is get an Architect on board who does conceptual and construction cost estimates as well, and get an estimate (with probably 20% contingency added on) for what an addition would likely cost in your area for that type of house, without any detailed plans. Most have a fairly good idea of per-square-foot cost for various house additions, taking in to account your general level of craftsmanship or fanciness - like maybe $100-200/SF in most areas for low-end tract-type construction, $200-300 for high priced urban areas or high-end construction in most other areas, $300-500 for higher-end high-cost area construction, etc. Commonly such a ballpark estimate can be made within about $20-40/SF for an area the architect is familiar with. General ballpark costs an architect could probably give you in a day or two time based on rough dimensions and a few photos of the existing house to know the and thype of existing foundation.

Of course, one additional potentially significant risk - you will not know where utilities are for sure. If on public utilities the external connection points give a fair idea, but if on well or septic you might or might not know about where they are, and that can be a major cost addition if you want to build where they are. You might not even know real well where the property line is.

Talk to your Realtor about this too - realizing his/her natural preference is of course a simple straight-forward sale, but likely his/her advice will be that buying a particular house planning on adding on right from the get-go makes your situation more complex and price-uncertain, can bring about financing issues because unless paying cash out of savings because you would be trying to tack on a construction/addition loan right after getting a new mortgage so lender approval and immediate credit rating could be a problem. I am sure the advice is going to be to get a house that fits your needs right now, without having to think about an addition.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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