LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Gretchen in Alabama who has a sloped concrete sort of area that’s uneven.
What’s going on?
GRETCHEN: Well, it’s not uneven. It goes off the living room but there are four steps down before you go out, which is about 3.5 foot. It’s a 16×14 concrete slab and it is even. There’s nothing uneven about it. My problem is I don’t want the family room, that I’d like to add on, to go down those steps to get in it.
TOM: Is this patio – this patio area is completely outside; there’s no roof over it?
TOM: Yeah, then it’s completely possible to extend it and have it be flush. You’re basically going to have to build a new foundation, though, because a patio is not adequate to hold the walls.
TOM: So they have to extend the foundation and then extend the floor system and then basically build a roof. And the trick here, Gretchen, is to try to figure out how to make the new roof tie in with the old roof and make it look like it was always supposed to be that way.
GRETCHEN: Yeah, that’s what concerns me.
TOM: Yeah, well too many times when you add on an addition, it looks like a patch. But if you have an architect, they can design some tweaks to the roof angle so it kind of looks interesting and architecturally sound and it’ll look very nice.
GRETCHEN: OK, my concern was, though, can they build it up on the floor end; you know like to make it even so that as you walk from the living room, which is …
TOM: Completely flush, yes. They definitely can.
GRETCHEN: They can?
TOM: Yeah, what would happen is they would take off the flooring material in your living room itself. And typically, the best way to do that is to have the sheathing – whatever the plywood sheathing is on the floor, extend old to new – so you don’t have a butt joint there where the old house butts up to the new one – I would overlap the plywood subfloor.
GRETCHEN: I see. So it is possible.
TOM: It is absolutely possible.
GRETCHEN: Then I should contact a builder?
TOM: Yeah, I would start with an architect. Have an – here’s why. Because if you call a builder, the builder may work with a particular architect but you’re always better off hiring the architect first. You can sit down with the architect, make sure that everything that you want into that addition is recorded on the plans, including how things are going to join together and what materials are going to be use. And as part of the architect’s plans, they’re going to give you a set of specifications.
And with those specs, Leslie, she can basically go out and get a pretty good bid.
LESLIE: Yeah. When you have a specific amount of information, this way you can give it to all of your contractors who are bidding on your potential project. This way they’re all bidding on the same thing, so you can really compare a good amount of price ranges and know that you’re getting a good deal.
Also, with an addition, you might need to get some things approved from your town or your community and an architect will really help you get all of those things approved smoothly and get you into all of the right outlets.
GRETCHEN: Well, I’m in the country, so I don’t think I’ll have a problem that way.
TOM: The neighbors won’t mind. The animals might mind, right? (chuckles)
GRETCHEN: Yeah. So the best thing is contact an architect …
GRETCHEN: … and then go from there.
TOM: You’ll have a set of plans, then you can get an apples-to-apples comparison when you start talking to contractors.
GRETCHEN: Great, and I thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Gretchen. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.