Pulse Guide to Adding on to Your Home

Nick Zoumas knows how to navigate through the good, bad and ugly of home extensions. image: kenny janosick

Nick Zoumas knows how to navigate through the good, bad and ugly of home extensions. image: kenny janosick

It’s always best to consider undertaking a major construction project when the summer months roll in, especially home additions that can leave a house exposed to the elements and take months to complete. Nick Zoumas, owner of Almas Construction in Wading River, offered his expertise about the process.

Long Island Pulse: Are there zoning regulations to consider before building?
Nick Zoumas: If building up, there are zoning limitations on height. The regulation in the town of Riverhead is 35 feet from grade [this varies from town to town]. If you’re expanding outward, generally every town is going to have setback requirements. Side yard setbacks are around 35 feet with a minimum of 15 feet. The front usually has a setback of 40–60 feet and the backyard is similar to that. If the addition is going to encroach, you need to go to the ZBA (zoning board of appeals) and get a variance approval. This means going through town board and ZBA meetings and proving that what you’re going to do conforms to the area.

Pulse: What is the most cost effective way to add space to a home?
NZ: Basement finishing is probably the most cost effective means of adding space, especially if you already have a secondary means of egress [legally required for living space]. The second is expanding upward and the third would be expanding outward.

Pulse: How about building above a garage?
NZ: With a detached garage, that gets tricky. In the town of Brookhaven they just changed their ordinances— you are not allowed to have a detached garage with a peak higher than 18 feet because there’s been a lot of illegal apartments. If you’re building higher, you have to be upfront about if it’s for storage or not and the town has been very strict.

Pulse: What about mother-daughter apartments?
NZ: Another sticky subject: they’re actually illegal and next to impossible to get approved. If you start putting in second kitchens and extra rooms, it’s no longer a single family home.

Pulse: What are common types of additions and general project times?
NZ: I’ve seen a lot of garage conversions, bumping out the first floor to expand on the family room or the kitchen and make more common area space. If they’re building up, it is usually to create more bedroom space. If you’re building upward and adding 400 square feet, realistically that’s a month-and-half to two-month project.

One of the major issues with doing any extension is the mismatch of siding and roofing. Vinyl tends to fade quickly and chances are the color is never going to match completely. The only way to fix this problem is to change all the siding at once, or at least the sections that are visible from the street. Same with roofing shingles. “Even if you have the same lot numbers and it’s six-months later, it’s really tough to match,” Zoumas said.