I probably should have written this during the planning stage, but we were too busy planning. What finally moved us from dreaming about an addition while walking through the neighbourhood and actually making it happen was the winter of 2007/08. And all that snow. It sat on the garage roof for three months and made it sink even further into the ground at the garage door end. It meant that the garage was going to need to be fixed. And the three season room at the back of the house only had a few years left, so the stars seemed to be aligning.

Some people are lucky in that they can look at  a large deck and envision a room, maybe a family room to be added onto the back of their house. For us, it wasn’t as simple. Not having children and having recently downsized from a suburban home, we weren’t looking for more space. After talking for about a month, and doing a lot of soul searching, I came up with the design brief. It was a description of what we truly wanted: windows to see the beautiful garden in the backyard, a place for me to ride my bike on its exercise stand, but most of all the space had to be multipurpose.

Once we knew what we wanted (well sort of), we did a lot of research on local architects. We narrowed it down to five, including one who charged us  for his visit, and a full-service  design and build firm. When meeting with firms, it’s important to know that you can trust them and have enough of a rapport that you’re not afraid to say that you don’t agree. We elimated one (the design-build firm) almost immediately. Let’s just say personality conflict. We elimated another one because he was so old school we just couldn’t see him using e-mail, which was a key tool for us to communicate with the one we eventually chose. We narrowed it down to two, and it was tough choosing. In the end we chose one who was probably used to working with more money.

The next issue you need to tackle is budget. Don’t assume you know the value of your home. When it comes to valuations knowing the listing prices or even the selling prices in your neighbourhood doesn’t help. The bank will use someone who doesn’t know you and you really have no right of appeal. So know how much you really have before you tell your architect. And take 10 – 20 percent off that amount because he’s likely going to go over.