Building Up Vs. Building Out

Image Credit: Honolulu Magazine

Image Credit: Honolulu Magazine

Thinking about adding on to your home but not sure whether to build a second story or just add on. Read below to find out which direction you should go.

One reason homeowners decide to build up is because they do not have enough land to build out or they choose for other reasons. When building up it’s important to check with your city to find out if there are limits on housing height in your area. Some locations will place limits on what you can and can’t do. For example, if your home is considered in a “historic” area, then there will be limitations as to what can be done to the outside of the home. An advantage to building up is that you are able to save space for a yard and potentially have an ocean view from your second story.

Homeowners may chose to build out for many reasons – expanding the kitchen, adding a family room, or simply to live in a one-story home. Building out may be a less intrusive project because your entire home will not be affected and there will be areas to still live in during the project. Building up will make it more difficult. If you have a large piece of property, building out might be your desired choice. 

How Do I Choose a General Contractor?

Choosing a General Contractor is extremely important for your project. Watch out for unusually low bides. Most people will get at least three bids for comparison purposes. A common practice of unscrupulous contractors is to first get your business by throwing out an extremely low bid on the project and then try to make a contract that is as vague as possible, leaving room for them to cut corners, take longer than expected, or both. If you have multiple bids it enables you to choose to discard any that seem "too low" in comparison to the others. 

Interviewing for the Job

  • Set up appointments with at least three contractors, and don't hesitate to expand your list. The more, the better. Estimates are free, and you may leave with good ideas, even if you don't end up choosing that contractor for the job.
  • This is not a time for trust. Ask for everything from proof of worker's compensation insurance to any licenses that the State of Hawaii requires. Most importantly, ask for references from recent jobs. When you call, it doesn't hurt to ask if the homeowner is willing to let you see the work that was done. 
  • The bids you receive from contractors should be in writing and should include these four points:
    1. Details of the work to be done
    2. Materials that will be used
    3. A time frame for the work to be completed 
    4. A firm price
  • When comparing each contractor make sure you give the same specs for the job you are want an estimate for, otherwise known as a bid. It may be tempting to choose the contractor on the basis of price but make sure to take a look at the details of the bid, especially the work to be done and the materials to be used.
  • If your project requires remodeling rather than an addition, be sure to choose a contractor who has a lot of experience in remodeling and not just construction. This is important because remodeling requires a lot of rerouting, replumbing, and working an an existing structure and infrastructure.