The Playbook for Additions

Are you considering an addition to your home but not sure where to start? In this episode, we've got you covered with a comprehensive guide to navigating the process smoothly. We'll begin by outlining key points to consider, from preparing for the addition to understanding the implications for your existing space and neighborhood dynamics.

Next, we'll delve into the practical aspects, including working with architects and contractors, and understanding the construction timeline. You will learn the critical factors for success and how to avoid common mistakes. From budgeting wisely to managing expectations and anticipating unforeseen challenges, we'll equip you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions throughout the process.

This Episode Will Cover: 

• The different reasons someone may do an addition.
• What to consider before doing an addition.
• The rules around living in the home during construction.
• Why you should consider living out of home during an addition.
• The benefit of hiring a good architect.
• The importance of being prepared for shifts during an addition.

Learn More About Ashley, Michelle, & Simply Home: 
• About Ashley & Michelle:
• Website:
• Podcast:
• Instagram: @simplyhomeaustin
• Facebook: @simplyhomeaustin
Episode Transcript

This is the Simply Home Podcast - Ladies Who Build, a podcast for women by women.

This is Ashley Wainscott and Michelle Mullins.

After spending the last 10 years revolutionizing the construction industry and raising the bar of the contracting world.

We are inviting you on our journey as we continuously learn how to be extraordinary and thrive in this industry.

Now, come hang with us.

Ashley Wainscott

Season three of Ladies Who Build, this is episode 27. This is the playbook for additions. So summary of key points are we're going to do a little introduction into additions. We're going to talk a little bit into how to prep for them and we're going to then talk about what to consider when thinking about an addition.

And we'll roll next into working with an architect and the different parties that you'll have involved with an addition. And then we'll go over in general some elements of the run of show. We will talk through the actual construction pieces and variables. And then we'll wrap up with just a few little secrets to a successful addition.

All right, let's dive in, shall we?

Michelle (01:32.122)

Okay, let's do it.

Ashley Wainscott (01:34.382)

So we were going to talk about, um, like an intro into additions of why you would do an addition.

Michelle (01:51.29)

Yes, and we've come across, there's different reasons why people would do an addition. I think one of the most common ones we see is that you just need the extra space with a growing family. You love your neighborhood, you love your neighbors, you love the environment that you're in, so you don't necessarily want to move. So keeping your existing space and if your lot allows for the addition may make sense in that instance for you to go down that path.

You could also consider if your existing layout isn't really conducive for a remodel. So that could be multiple reasons. Like let's say you're in a historical district and it's really tough to modify your existing home without jumping through a lot of hoops. That definitely exists in Austin. It could be that your layout is really funky and you have all these like load -bearing walls that would be really expensive to take down.

so you might wanna leave those put. So maybe your existing layout just doesn't really make sense to do any remodeling. It could also be that your home doesn't necessarily compete with your neighborhood. So let's say you live in a really small, you know, whatever square footage house, but the rest of your neighborhood are these large remodeled homes or these large new builds and you're kind of the small man on the shop, on the block.

Then you might consider, okay, for resale value, I should probably add some square footage to our place if we're really gonna compete with our neighbors. And then lastly, you just don't wanna move. Obviously, that's a pain in the booty and it's expensive and especially if you have little kids, going through a move sounds bonkers in that case. So you might just say, hey, we like where we are, but we're gonna add on, not gonna move.

Ashley Wainscott (03:41.326)

Or if you have three dogs.

Michelle (03:45.786)

Who would ever have three dogs?

Ashley Wainscott (03:46.318)

Or if you have a big dog family. Everything you were describing was my life though when you're like, you're outgrowing your house, but you love your neighborhood. You love your neighbors, right? But you're like trying to figure out how to stay in the house that I'm like, you stay in that house and you do an addition and work with.

Michelle (04:12.762)


Ashley Wainscott (04:14.766)

an architect and work with somebody that can utilize your lot in your home to make the best living situation possible, but also for it to not be crazy expensive, right? Like we all know the we all know additions which we'll get into later, but.

They cost hundreds of thousands and it's an investment. So it's not something you're going to want to do and then move out in a year. It should be something you're thinking about long term.

Michelle (04:49.594)


Ashley Wainscott (04:49.998)

That's what I would really consider. Like you're not gonna do an addition and then make it a rental property.

Michelle (04:57.882)

Well, right, and you know, if you're like where you are, you're in a really good neighborhood and your value of your property is just gonna continue to appreciate. So it doesn't, you know, you, the time that you've been in your house, you're just building more equity in a really good neighborhood. So it does make sense, you know, in your case, if you have space, it probably would make sense for you guys to do an addition because you're like, I don't wanna get rid of this property anytime soon. Like you're just, you're just racking up the equity.

Ashley Wainscott (05:27.726)

Yeah, I appreciate the appreciation. That's what I... It's a double appreciation. But then also, I was thinking about HOA is probably a little bit of a pain depending on where you live. So that could be a consideration of like my neighborhood doesn't have an HOA. So I can just like willy nilly do whatever as long as the city says it's okay.

Michelle (05:56.026)

Yeah, that's so nice.

Ashley Wainscott (05:58.35)

As Michelle rolls her eyes.

Michelle (06:02.266)

I know because I hate like, I don't hate it. It's just like why, why do they exist? They're so strict.

Ashley Wainscott (06:07.534)

Why? Why do they exist? I was Instagram scrolling and saw a comment. Someone was griping about their HOA running away from their HOA, either like president on the street, whatever they were doing. They had recorded a video of them like running away from them because they were like, I don't want to talk to them. And all the comments were people from Europe being like, what is an HOA?

Michelle (06:10.49)

I'm sorry.

Michelle (06:29.402)

Oh my God.

Ashley Wainscott (06:34.734)

Can somebody please explain to me what is an HOA, what's the point of this?

Ashley Wainscott (06:43.086)

Nobody knows.

Michelle (06:43.61)

can tell you. Great question. Another podcast episode.

Ashley Wainscott (06:48.27)

Right, we'll get there. Okay, so the other thing to consider we also, Michelle and I made note of was the length of time and where you're going to be living because the length of time Michelle and I were talking about is going to be at least a year, right? Like by the time you get through planning and construction.

Ashley Wainscott (07:16.238)

It's gonna be substantial amount of time. I mean, especially if you're doing a bigger addition or you're adding bathrooms. It's not like you're just adding, building out an attic or something. You know, if you're doing a full -fledged addition, that's gonna be very time intensive. And then we also had like, Michelle, you were talking about specifically the, that you can't live in the home when you're doing an addition if you're remodeling over 50 % of the home? Correct.

Michelle (07:49.21)

Yeah, yeah, so if you are doing an addition or even if you're doing a remodel that's more than 50 % of the home, you cannot live in the home because the city of Austin, well this is Austin, I don't know anywhere else, but you can't live in the home because it's a safety hazard. They don't want any of the utilities and the electricity up and running because there's so many like live wires and obviously everything's like during construction.

And so it's just a safety hazard. So you actually do have to move out during that time. So there are ways you could kind of work around it. Like you could do like a temporary power pole and we could bring electricity to your property that way. But again, that's additional cost. You have to get a separate permit for that. And you still have to be without electricity and water for certain periods of time when work is happening and when the inspections are happening. And if you fail an inspection, then we have to get it re -inspected. And that can take a couple of days.

So it's like, it's really hard to live in a home when that's happening. It's not impossible. But I also think literally just for sanity purposes, I would, I would move out because like you were saying, Ashley, it's like the length of time you're probably looking at like at least six months of construction, if not longer. And just your sanity during that is going to go out the window. You will turn cray cray if you're going to live through a remodel at some point. So.

Save that sanity. Just move out.

Ashley Wainscott (09:19.662)

Michelle and I can vouch for you losing your mind. We know it will happen.

and you should budget that for your addition project. Budget that you're going to be living out of your house. Or, I mean, maybe you just drive yourself a different kind of insane and live with friends or family. I mean, like move back in with your parents if they're close by or you can. It'll be a different kind of insane, but it's still a little insane. We've had lots of clients rent Airbnbs, rent short -term rentals, and then they can continue.

somewhat enjoying their life while we're tearing apart and rebuilding their home.

Ashley Wainscott (10:04.142)

Yeah, so just like, you know, take that advice with what you what you will. We've had people that have also lived through smaller addition projects such as making a screen and porch part of their home. And, you know, those areas are closed off and they're not even needed as far as living in their home. You know, it's like they walk through that space every day. But yeah, I mean, it's a.

It's a test to your patience, I could imagine.

Michelle (10:36.57)

Yeah, definitely. And I think it's just important to understand the process and asking questions. Go through that process and ask questions and ask what it's like. And honestly, not everybody can afford to move out, and that's okay. Your contractor who you're working with will work around you and will help you with that and kind of maybe show you, okay, could you at least stay out this week when we don't have power or water? Could you stay out maybe during the loudest time, which is demo? And so you could kind of play with it, but.

Yeah, I mean if you are able to move out the full time, that's the best case scenario and then you could meet on site once a week with your project manager. But if you can't, it's not the end of the world. People figure it out all the time and we would work with you on that.

Ashley Wainscott (11:21.486)

Yes, we will. We're great like that. Also prep wise, we... When you're thinking about prepping, you're thinking about... I think the first thing you honestly think about is, is this feasible? And what is my budget? Which is kind of part of... If this is feasible?

Michelle (11:24.89)

Yeah. Yeah.

Michelle (11:48.442)

Yeah, it's huge.

Ashley Wainscott (11:50.158)

Yeah, like do I have the funds to do it? And I mean before investing in an architect, I would suggest talking to a contractor like us that could get you an idea on average what an addition would cost. I wouldn't Google it because I've even Googled remodeling costs before and I'm like that, you know, there's so much variance that I would just talk to a contractor, talk to several.

who you would plan on using and get an idea of budget and then start thinking through if it's feasible. So like start to talk to an architect, get an idea too of their costs and feasibility also means like, you know, your easement or like, are you limited with impervious coverage? Are you not able to...

to do an addition because of some particular reason, it's definitely part of what you have to invest in to figure out if you can even do it. Like you have to invest money to figure out if you can do it.

Michelle (12:59.706)

Yeah, and like your architect, whoever you end up choosing for the architecture will help you with that. They say they can do a feasibility study and then they can tell you like, okay, yes, it's possible, but it has to be this size, you know, so they'll kind of run you through that. And I think too, when you're like,

Asking around for architects or designers. Also consider what their time frame, what I'm like recently running into is like, oh I love this architect, I love their style, but oh they're six months out before they can even get me anything. So like you kind of also want to consider the time frames of what these people you're talking to can actually do. And maybe six months is fine for you, maybe you're not in a huge dress because you love this architect and you love their design, that's great. But that's kind of something I've actually recently been running into. I'm like, oh.

Well, how far are you even out? Because I need something like next week, you know? Which is not possible, but...

Ashley Wainscott (13:51.054)

Yeah, so all of a sudden that list is more limited. I mean, that's probably going to be like your first question now on these calls is like, are you available now?

Michelle (14:01.082)

Yeah. Yeah. Or how far booked out are you? I mean, you'd be surprised. They definitely book out.

But yeah, I mean hiring a good architects part of it It's like probably what the journey that you're on because you want to find somebody who knows the ground right like the actual soil and understands Where you're building so like on the east side working with it?

Michelle (14:23.29)

Yeah, who are they?

Yeah, it's one of these people.

Ashley Wainscott (14:48.622)

architect and structural engineer that understands the movement of the ground or like Understands if something's harder to build on and then understanding city laws around You know, like when I was looking at addition for my home, I think we're I was talking to architect about the McMansion rule Right and how you're limited and how much you build onto your current home and the current neighborhood so there's just all kinds of rules that

that if they're knowledgeable, it will save you a lot of money and headache.

Michelle (15:25.722)

Yes, and in that interview process, I would ask to see examples of work that they've done with editions. Like some architects have only done brand new spec new builds. Some have only done additions. Some have only done remodels. Like, so not to say that they can't do any of those cross, you know, do any of that, but you kind of want to see their portfolio because I think what you were talking about is so important of how the edition ties into the home.

not just structurally, I mean that's where your engineer will help, but also aesthetically. Do you want something that's super modern and beautiful and has a stucco exterior when the rest of your house is siding and maybe traditional style, right? So I think there are certain aspects that you want to ask and questions you want to ask like what other work have you done before?

Have they even worked in similar neighborhoods? Maybe you have a certain style of home. If you have a bungalow home and you're doing an addition, that's gonna look different than if you have a sprawling house outside of Westlake that you have all this land to build on. Those are two different builds and styles. So I think that's a really good point. But yeah, even if people say, oh, this is my forever home, I'm never moving, that's great. But you still wanna think about resell when you're doing this design and this layout because...

A, you just don't know what's gonna happen in your life that you need to sell and you don't want it to be like a totally bonkers house. But also you just, I don't know, you just never know in life. And so even if you say this is your forever home, beautiful, wind, wonderful, amazing, never move, but you don't wanna design it that way, you know?

Ashley Wainscott (17:06.734)

Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, the only exception I could think about would be the clients where we remodeled their bathroom this last year and they're older and they were like, these are gonna be my last years and like, this will be my last remodel. And I was like, that's really sad. You know, like the fact that they were even saying that out loud, I was like, oh, like knowing that they had an end.

Michelle (17:23.098)

Oh yeah.

Michelle (17:28.89)


Michelle (17:35.482)


Ashley Wainscott (17:36.11)

that they were going to, right? But anyways, even then, maybe in that case, you just do whatever you want. But even then, if you know you wanna leave your house to your kids or whatever, and you do something so bizarre that they can't really sell it or they have to fix it first, you don't wanna go out like that. Or I don't.

Michelle (17:38.874)

I know. I mean, yeah.

Michelle (18:00.506)

No. No. Well, at that point, you're probably like, I literally don't care. So you're probably.

Ashley Wainscott (18:06.222)

Yeah. Leo.

Michelle (18:09.53)

So maybe if you wanted, you leave a bad mark on the family.

Ashley Wainscott (18:12.43)

little Leo would be like, damn you mom, you know, cause I'm like, I painted the whole house pink and then I put a hot tub in the middle of it.

Michelle (18:21.626)

Yeah, yeah, I mean, I'm sure it's been done.

Ashley Wainscott (18:24.75)

Yeah, I mean, there was that Pepto Bismol house, remember North?

Michelle (18:30.586)

Oh, I'll never... Yeah, we've done some funky stuff.

Michelle (18:39.61)

Okay so next on what to consider when you're doing an addition. We've talked about this a lot on different episodes but you, I would say your budget, you need to be like so friendly and understanding of your budget to a T because additions are tricky. They're, they are more difficult than a brand new home build and they take longer and they can be more expensive.

because you're not relaying on new PVC for your plumbing, you are tying in to what's an existing house already has, which could be very, very old piping, and we have to tie in with new piping. Same for electrical, same for HVAC. So all of these things are considerations that you don't necessarily need to worry about, but they are things that you wanna make sure you're including in your budget. So of course, your contractor's gonna help you with your budget, your architect's gonna help you with your budget.

you can understand numbers ahead of time and they'll give you that breakdown. But when we say plan appropriately with your numbers is you want to make sure you have a really good contingency for your project. So if you are in this situation where you saved up all this money, you're ready to do an addition, but this is every penny you own is going towards this addition and you cannot go over this number or you are screwed, then the addition is not right for you at this time.

because there are gonna be things that come up, we don't know what they are, but they will come up, and you need to be prepared to pull the trigger of like, okay, yes, let's do it, okay, let's not do it. There are some things that you're gonna have to do to keep moving forward. So, especially because you're pulling permits and the city might call out something that they want to see done that's not even on the plans. They just wanna see it done. So you have to just make sure that you're not putting everything you've ever owned money -wise into this project.

Ashley Wainscott (20:37.518)

10 out of 10 would not recommend. Yeah, leave yourself some space and some cushion to live. And I think it's also going to make you a little bit of a happier person while you do the project. If you are not kicking and screaming, if there is something that comes up or something that has to be changed. Because if you are penny pinching,

and that is such a tight budget for you, you're gonna make yourself miserable and the teams that you're working with miserable, right? And I don't know about you, but the people that I spend a lot of money with and want and are building my home, I want to have a really good relationship with them. So I would just keep that in mind with like the contractors you're working with is, you know, you want...

You want to be mentally in a good place because you want to treat them fairly. You want to treat them like they deserve because they're building out your home. You know.

Michelle (21:43.258)

Yeah, yeah, no, agreed. And we've seen, like we say that because we've seen like when money is a massive stressor for a couple, then that gets argumentative with each other, with them, and then it gets argumentative with us. And so all these emotions run high, but maybe they didn't necessarily need to, but everyone's like just stressed out because of the budget. And then it stresses us out, because we're like, oh my gosh, like what if something, what if a change order comes up, they're not gonna be able to afford it? Like, then we're freaking out about your money when that's not our problem, right? And so, like, it's just, it gets kind of really convoluted for everybody. But, yeah, I think that that's like a big factor to really consider. And again, a good contractor will tell you what your percentage contingency should be, because you can also ask them in the past what has been y 'all's contingency amount on previous editions, and we would be able to tell you that.

Ashley Wainscott (22:38.062)

Yeah. And you know too, Michelle, I was thinking, asking contractors about what has come up for them in the past on projects. Like what situations have you guys been in with additions just to get an idea of the unforeseen for the client so they could understand kind of that educational piece, right? So like, some things that don't come up necessarily during construction, but I was thinking about how particular our city is with trees, right? And something that's come up with for us during construction, like mid project will be the inspector coming on site. You know, he's marching on in his boots and he's like, I need you to re mulch around these trees. There's been too much foot traffic and for all of those in the world that don't know when you're working on a remodel or addition, you have to protect the trees around where you're working. So like covering them with wood, putting a fence around them, mulching them. And then if there's a lot of foot traffic, something we haven't always planned for that's dependent on the inspector is if you need to like relay the mulch or reinstall the fencing, you know, because storms happen and foot traffic happens and things, things change, it's not just a one -time prep set up.

Ashley Wainscott (24:13.614)

Not that that matters to the client, but.

Ashley Wainscott (25:10.446)

Okay, so the other thing that we were going to talk about with additions that we figured out with a project years ago in Terrytown is that if you are adding a bathroom onto your home, part of the feasibility prep that you need to do is checking the water meter and making sure that it is capable of handling the capacity of any additional water areas, water faucets, laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, sinks, whatever it is, you need to know that you have capacity for it because if you don't, you'll be giving the city, I think years ago it was, we haven't thankfully had to do this in a while, upgrade the water meter, but I think it was like up to 10 ,000 for the city to upgrade the meter. And then you have to upgrade the main water line, which, That could be 20 to 30 to 40 ,000, depending on like how long the line is. And if there's limestone that we have to dig through and obviously then you have landscaping to go back over that or on top of it. So long story long, you're 30 to $40 ,000 deep planning for a bathroom. And that's something you should know upfront to decide if you really want that bathroom.

Michelle (26:42.65)

Right, and like some alternatives your plumber, I mean your contractor would tell you is like, okay, yes I want the bathroom and maybe your existing meter could handle that additional size of a bathroom but it couldn't necessarily hold kitchen and laundry and all of that type of plumbing. So you could get creative of like, is this necessary and if it is, this is what it's gonna cost additionally. But yeah, there's a lot of like big ticket items like that that could come up.

Electrical panel you probably are going to need to upgrade because your existing probably it doesn't have enough space for a whole addition on your home so that's a big ticket factor and then I yeah HVAC is a big one too because you want to talk with the HVAC technician which your contractor would bring out but to see what would be the proper airflow. Let's say your ducts are really badly installed on your existing home and you're not getting already proper airflow, you might need to redo the whole system. Again, that would be, in the long run, it's better and it's more cost effective because you're appropriately distributing air. But that's another factor is like, okay, well maybe you can't just add on a duct with your existing house and run it over to the addition. It might be more complicated than that.

And so then you don't want you want proper ducts and you want proper airflow in and out because then that could cause mold if it's not getting enough proper air so You know the I think electrical HVAC plumbing I guess foundation could be a big one, too But those are kind of like your big ticket factors that you'll want to make sure you've done your due diligence With your architect with your contractor and ask those questions ahead of time because those can get you

Ashley Wainscott (28:30.478)

they'll get you. They'll get you all right. Yeah all the decorative trim out, you know that's a little bit more controlled costs but the those three main things those can add up if you're not thinking through them ahead of time. Yeah an HVAC, you know that's one thing that I'm always blown away with. I feel like I learned something new with HVAC every single time we're working on a project.

You think it's all simple, but it's actually not whatsoever. And I don't, I always think I somewhat understand it and I feel like I do, but I feel like I don't at all at the same time.

Michelle (29:41.658)

And every time I learn something new about it I'm like whoa I didn't know that that seems like a big deal you know like there's just always these like big things yeah big things to consider.

Ashley Wainscott (29:56.302)

I know. I'm like, I'm pretty sure I would fail or like drop out of HVAC school.

Michelle (30:04.09)

Yeah, it's like super intense. But then could you imagine electrical? Like even electrical, that's like even more confusing.

Ashley Wainscott (30:09.838)

Again, even though I feel like I understand the basics, then they throw something at me out of left field that I'm like, Oh, okay. Well, this is why you're the licensed electrician and I'm not.

Michelle (30:29.85)

Yeah, why we pay you so much money? But and City of Austin electrical code changes every two years. So then you're like, well, I literally never know now all the things they have to do because I have to know a whole new look. Like it's just, it's bonkers.

Ashley Wainscott (30:44.142)

Yeah, and it will usually wow me in that it may bite me every two years and that like when it comes out around that transition period, I always remember there was one years ago where they changed how many outlets you had to have on an island or peninsula. Like, remember that? And it was like every so many feet. And so it was like all of a sudden you had to consider...

Ashley Wainscott (31:13.294)

You had to put in more boxes in an island or peninsula. Like it wasn't even an option anymore. And I was like, oh my gosh, I need, I need to remember this code because we were between like bringing on all these projects, but then the code had changed. So then you had to adapt to the new code. And it was like, we were in a pickle.

Michelle (31:38.714)

I know. Yeah. And then it's like they'll wait to call it out at the end of the project and you already have finished. Everything's pretty and it's nice. And then they're like, oh, you need three additional outlets on this island. You're like, what? The countertops are already installed. Like, what do you want me to do? So then we have to get creative. And I think we did like an electrical strip, like underneath the countertop. And he said that was sufficient, which like, thank God.

Ashley Wainscott (31:44.622)


Ashley Wainscott (32:10.894)

And Michelle, you were talking about Windows 2, right? Like.

Michelle (32:28.954)

We've done some editions where some people will go all out and they'll go really nice black frame Windows, gorgeous on their edition, but then their main house has the white, not plastic, but the white, I'm not thinking about it, vinyl material for the windows on the main house.

Ashley Wainscott (32:52.59)



Michelle (32:58.362)

You know if it's like in a very back of your addition no one can see it unless you're in the backyard and you know maybe later down the road you're gonna replace all your windows cool but windows are really expensive so then I think that's something to consider is like am I gonna match my existing house or am I gonna go you know all out and go for the nice black windows but then you want to consider how does that tie into your existing house so that's like you know again something to consider and then also your roof line, are you doing the same roof shingles, what's the exterior gonna look like, is it gonna match your existing siding? What we've also learned the hard way is siding is really hard to match, because it's like tile, they only make, like they don't keep making the same brand of siding, it's like always changing, so you know, if you have a 19 inch house, you're like, well I can't get that same siding, what am I gonna do now? So maybe you have to paint the whole house to match.

Ashley Wainscott (33:51.598)

Yeah, and think about how we had to get them custom made. We were in several predicaments where we had to get custom made siding for those older homes. And it was very costly. it's not just like readily available. It was expensive.

Siding wise, there's a lot of little elements that the contractors have to think about because they have to know if you need something custom ordered or not. And if they're not doing that due diligence upfront, then you're going to pay for it in the end. Same thing with materials. If you're not thinking about when things are going to be arriving, it's just going to delay your addition further and further and further. I was listening to someone, a client was talking about that with a past remodel or addition in the last couple months. And I have this issue where people tell me things, but I can't recall who it was or where I was or when it was. I just know the information they told me. But somebody had lived through something like that where they were like, yeah, the contractor hadn't ordered materials. They were ordering it throughout the project. So it just, everything was getting delayed one thing after another. And I'm like, well, that's why you order it ahead of time. You get all the timelines for everything and then you store it or leave it at the shipping warehouse or whatever. But that's the secret there.

Michelle (37:32.922)


Michelle (37:48.346)

Yeah, yeah, that can definitely delay you.

Ashley Wainscott (37:50.574)