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8 things to know when building a home addition in Walnut Creek, California

January 8, 2021

Thinking of building an addition to your home in Walnut Creek, California?

Be comforted in the fact that you’re not the only one asking. As home prices in California remain relatively resilient to any extreme fluctuations, the question most homeowners in California are asking themselves is how to maximize the value of the property they own.


Home additions are the ideal way to go for most properties in Walnut Creek as opposed to building ADUs (also known as ‘in-law units’). The main reason why home additions are the preferred method of maximizing the value and space it is typically a cheaper and simpler than building a detached dwelling unit or ADU.


If you’re thinking of building an addition onto your property, there are a few questions to consider before you can get started. 


Are you building ‘up’ or ‘out’?

As the name suggests, building up typically means you’re building an addition on top of an existing building. Additions built up are built on top of a garage or existing living room. It is worth noting that if you’re thinking of building up the existing structure will need reinforcing to be able to bear the added weight of the new addition. 


Building onto a second story can be 25% more expensive than building out. There are more costs associated with 2nd story additions due to the added costs of running utilities further, the need to get structural plans drawn up, materials for structural reinforcement, and added labor cost.


How much does it cost to build an addition onto my home in Walnut Creek?

The industry standard cost of building a home addition on the ground level can go for $350 per square foot; this includes the costs of rough materials like framing materials, standard insulation, drywall, mudding, electrical outlet covers, recessed light fixtures, labor costs, and demolition costs. Building your home addition on a second story can run up to $450 per square foot depending on the complexity of the project. 


What ways can I pay for building my home addition?

It helps to know that payments for a home addition or any remodeling project are done in stages. The way this works is each time your remodeler completes a predetermined stage of the project, they collect payment for the amount allotted for that stage.


There are a myriad of options to pay for your home improvement project but figuring out which option is a viable one will depend on what your remodeler will accept. Here are common ways our clients at Home Quality Remodeling have paid for their remodeling projects:


  • Check or cash -- obviously : this works if you have the cash to cover the entire cost of your remodeling project.
  • Credit card -- most remodelers will accept this payment method but keep in mind that your remodeler might have to pass on the fee they incur from the credit card company to the price of your project. 
  • HELOC -- otherwise known as a ‘Home Equity Line of Credit’, this allows the homeowner to borrow against the equity of their home up to a certain amount determined by the lender. Once you are approved for a HELOC on your property, you can draw the amounts you need to pay for each stage of the project. Clarify with your lender what the terms of the loan are.
  • Home Equity Loan also known as a ‘HEL’ -- is a loan secured by the equity on a property. The difference is that a HEL is a fixed amount of money with a fixed interest rate and scheduled payments. Once approved for a HEL, you can spend the money to pay for each stage of the project.

Am I allowed to build an addition to my home in Walnut Creek?

If your home is located in the city of walnut creek, your home could fall under the jurisdiction of either the city of walnut creek’s building permitting department or contra costa county’s building permitting department. The good news is that the city of Walnut Creek or Contra Costa County’s building permitting departments are quite easy to work with and are relatively more tolerant of allowing homeowners to build additions.


What is the process for building an addition to my home in Walnut Creek?

 First, talk to your builder if they can facilitate the whole process. If your builder is highly experienced in building additions, they can walk you through the whole process from getting plans approved to the final inspection. At Home Quality Remodeling, we walk you through the whole process.

We start out by connecting you with one of our designers to select finish materials and build a 3D rendering of the finished project. Then, we will have our structural engineer draw plans for the project. Once the plans are drawn, the project manager assigned to you will then submit those plans to the city or county building permitting department for approval, and once approved, our construction team can begin. 

Do it yourself

If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, then here are the steps you’ll need to follow. Note that doing the preliminary stages yourself might not translate into a savings on the project. Professional construction companies typically have people and processes in place to greatly reduce the cost of the planning and permitting phase.


Here are the steps you’ll need to complete to start your home addition project:

  1. Select the finish materials you want and get designs of the addition from a local architect.
  2. Get a structural engineer to draw up plans for those designs. If your project involves tearing down a wall or building more walls, you will need a structural engineer to draw up plans for the project.
  3. Submit those plans to your local building department for approval.
  4. Submit those plans and permits to your builder so they can start the construction process.

Depending on the complexity of your project, you might need multiple plans and permits before beginning construction. 



How long does it take to build an addition? 

Additions on the ground level are typically completed sooner than second story additions. Expect 1 month to 1.5 months for every 100 square feet of your addition. 


How do I get designs for my home addition ideas?

At Home Quality Remodeling, we have an in-house design team that can build hyper realistic 3D renderings of your home addition ideas. Once connected with one of our 3D designers you can select all the materials you want the finished project to have then your interior designer will get started on the renderings for you. Once the rendering of your home addition are complete, you will be given access to an interactive webpage where you can inspect every inch of your home addition.



Where do I get structural plans for my home addition design?

Find a structural engineer that operates in the jurisdiction of the building department that your home is located in. Each city’s building codes differ so you’ll want to work with someone who knows your areas building codes. Or you could contact us and we'll take care of the entire process of permitting, structural plans, and all the technical paper work.



Is it difficult to get permits for a home addition from the city of Walnut Creek?

To build an addition to your home in Walnut Creek, the designs must first be approved by the city of Walnut Creek’s design review board. They will check to see if the new structure stays within the standard adopted by the community. The criteria they will look at are the aesthetics and intended useful purpose of the new addition.

Are you thinking of building an addition to your home?

If you have plans to do an addition on your property in Walnut Creek, we'd be honored to earn your business. Our design and construction team at Home Quality Remodeling are highly experience in building home additions in Walnut Creek and around the Bay Area. You can learn more about our process for building an addition on this article.


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