Add on a front room?

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Need some help- has anyone had experience with adding on a 4 season room to the front of their home? Do you have to build a basement??? Any advise???


  16 answers
  • Betsy Betsy on Mar 18, 2021

    Hi Liz: No, you don't have to have a basement, but you will need to have a rat wall and a permit. I'm sure your city has some rules and regulations on this type of thing. I'd check with them and see if they have anything that you need to do. If you are planning on doing electrical work, since it's going to be 4 seasons and you will want heat, I would hire a professional if you don't know how to do this. One very important thing to remember is that if you have someone else do the work, check them out with the BBB, make sure they are licensed, insured and bonded and have THEM pull the permits. Whomever pulls the permits is saying to the city that THEY are doing the electrical, plumbing, etc., work. If the company says you can save some money by pulling the electrical, plumbing, etc., permits, throw them out, no matter what they say or how they sweet talk you :) If you pull the permits, you are saying that YOU are doing the work, and if something goes pear shaped, your insurance won't cover any damages as you aren't qualified to do this type of work. So, NEVER EVER pull the permits if a company is doing the work. Also, be aware that your taxes will increase as you are adding floor space to your home. I don't mean to rain on your parade, but to let you know what to expect.


    Good luck

  • You don't need a basement, but there are a lot of other requirements. Check with your local code office.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Mar 18, 2021

    A basement area would be a personal choice. You could have it open or enclosed, based on what you decide.

    I would make sure that you get licensed & certified contractors, obtain at least 3 estimates, ask for & check references, check with friends and neighbors before deciding as well as neighborhood forums, BBB and Angie's List, make sure you see the permits they have (they are supposed to be openly posted), decide all the purposes you will be using this room for before you decide on a floor plan and materials, get a signed contract, deposit should be 25% and then pay incrementally as work is completed, have a timeline in the contract with stipulations for delays such as weather.

    If you are planning on DIY any of the work, you may be able to take a test so that you can obtain permits and pass inspections on the work. That's what we did when we added about 1200 square feet to our house and replaced/redesigned the roof.

    Check with your insurance company about the changes and make sure you notify them upon completion so that it will be covered. If you have a claim, even if it's for another part of the house, they can deny coverage if they weren't properly notified.


  • Flipturn Flipturn on Mar 19, 2021

    Although many folks may think that a 4-season room is 'just an add-on' especially if it does not have a basement, if it is attached at all to the existing roof of the house, then it will be considered as being an extension by construction codes. Any extension will increase the value of your home, but will also increase the premiums on your home insurance policy.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Mar 19, 2021

    One of the first decisions you will have to make in embarking upon a project to add a 4-season room to a house is whether or not the heating/AirConditioning will be separate for just the room, or whether it will be linked up to the existing systems in the rest of the house. You may want to consider having an alternate source of heat (for example, wood, pellet, gas, or electric heat, other than the forced air from an existing furnace).

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Mar 19, 2021

    HI there, you could pour a slab for your foundation or do a peer and beam foundation. If its going to be full four seasons the peer and beam foundation you may want to have insulated.

    If the room will need to be heated/air conditioned you will need to decide if you want to tie in what you already have in your home or if you want to heat it / air condition it separately.

    Generally giving it its own heat and air would be less expensive. I would call all of your local contractors and get quotes.

  • Adding onto an existing structure is big project and not a DIY weekend project. Hire qualified trades and have your contractor pull the required permits. All excellent advice from prior posts. Here is how to hire any contractor you will ever need.


    https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0242-hiring-contractor


    And make sure you have a contingency fund as construction costs always go over and you don't want to be stuck with a partially built structure that you can't finish. Secure your financing before signing a construction contract.

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 19, 2021

    Call your local planning department and ask them what permits are needed for this. They should have some paper work in the form of what is required by law. If you aren't comfortable with this type of work consider hiring someone to do this especially since this will be on the front of your house for all to see plus you want this to be a safe structure.

  • Sharon Sharon on Mar 19, 2021

    I always check contractors on the State Contractor's Licensing Board where you can find out if they have complaints filed against them and if they were resolved. And also check their license and insurance are up to date. You might want to ask for a Certificate of Insurance, that would cover you and your home.

    Your city building code and the City Planning department responsible for building permit will tell you want type of footing would be required and that may also depend on the height from the ground to your living room, do you want a step down or have it level with the living room. I've never seen one with a full basement, but rather a concrete slab or footing to install the garden room onto, and usually the bolts to fasten the kit to the footing is set into the wet concrete.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Mar 20, 2021

    You do not need to build a basement. Hire a professional to help you. You would just need a concrete floor put in.

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Mar 20, 2021

    I’ve done 3 of these for my architecture clients and have 30 years of expertise in architecture & project management.


    1.) Yes, you must do Due Diligence and call the City or the County Planning/Zoming Dept first. You may not even be allowed to put this on the front of your house, for a few different possible reasons.

    If your neighbor has one, then you need to find out how to appeal the current Zoning regulations, if not allowed today.


    2.) You will definitely need Building Permits.


    3.) Which means you’re going to need Construction Documents (Plans & Specs) .


    4.) Which means someone has to do more Due Diligence with the Building & Safety Dept this time. The National building code, the IRC, is not interpreted “evenly” across the US.


    5.) You should not hire a contractor to do your construction documents for at least 3 reasons:

    A. They won’t do them themselves, they’ll have an architect or qualified designer do it, run it through their books and add 20% markup to it.

    B. If the contractor has the CD’s done, you are essentially stuck with that contractor. Especially if they’re tied into his bid, as a package price. Not good.

    You should be in control, not the contractor.

    C. The CD’s should become your Bid Documents. They are key to getting apples to apples bids, as the Scope Of Work will be finite, what you want it to be.


    6.) Hire an experienced architect or designer who knows how to work with the city or county and find the loopholes.

    Who knows how much different construction methodologies cost.

    I can detail a clients project in 3 different ways and the cost-spread can be 30%.

    So you want a design pro who talks to you about these things and gives you all the options.,

    And explains Owner/Builder to you.

  • Janice Janice on Mar 20, 2021

    Be sure you check to see that you can do this within the regulations and codes of your locality. Even though the home/property is yours, there's still specific guidelines that must be followed. I'd start by calling a local contractor to get their ideas about what is needed and be upfront with them about the possibility that you may want to diy. The contractor would/should be familair with any local codes and also provide advice about the footing/foundation/slab for your extended room. By consulting with a contractor first, you'll have an idea of what all it will entail and a price that you'd likely be able to decide if you could diy less expensively.

  • Annie Annie on Mar 22, 2021

    It would depend where you live, temp in winter?. Also I would check with your building by laws.

  • We've done it and everything that Lifestyles Homes says is accurate. I would first check with your local building department, as some towns very near one another have drastically different codes. I know that in our town in you construct without a permit, there's a fine, in the town next to us, if you construct without, they make you rip it out. Also, you need to check your setbacks, but architects know this since they file regularly. Also, we used a drafting company rather than an architect for about half the price!

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Mar 23, 2021

    you would only need a foundation

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Mar 25, 2021

    No you could do a crawl space

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