The type of construction that will work best for house additions project depends on several factors. Some projects call for a great deal of custom design work, whereas others fit a more standardized concept. Some contractors specialize exclusively in stick-built, highly customized construction; others routinely work with a broad range of construction methods. Some sites pose special challenges that require a custom approach, whereas most will accommodate any of several approaches. Which of the following three basic options looks like the right fit for your situation?
Stick-Built Home Additions
Additions are usually site-specific, and contractors who work on them tend to favor traditional, tried-and-true construction methods, so most projects are built piece-by-piece on-site. Other options are slowly gaining ground in the remodeling industry, but stick-built is a smart choice for projects that involve quite a bit of custom work to achieve a certain look or to get an exact match between existing and new. The chief advantage of stick-built construction is maximum design flexibility. Virtually anything you can dream up can be stick-built—assuming it fits your budget, of course.
If the addition you're envisioning will have unusual architectural features—such as an odd-shape floor plan, an artfully sculptural exterior, or lots of rustic cottage styling—or if matching your home's existing exterior calls for some painstaking, hand-built reproduction windows or trim details, stick-built is almost certainly your best choice. It's also the way to go if you're dealing with a tight site—one where the houses are built close together, the trees and shrubs are mature, and the yards are small. These conditions make it necessary to deliver materials to the construction area in small loads and do all the heavy work with small-scale machines.
The main disadvantage of stick-built construction is that it's labor-intensive. Building from scratch on-site means hiring expensive skilled laborers to work on your project for several weeks or months. This not only drives up costs, but also causes a lengthy disruption of your household routine and generates considerable clutter and mess—debris, dust, litter, noise, traffic, parking problems, and so on. Also, lengthy construction means the project's financing plan will need to span the construction period as well as the years you'll actually use the new space.
Continued on page 2: Modular Additions