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Additions & Remodels in South Orange, NJ

If you are considering a home addition (extension), remodel or renovation to your home in South Orange NJ, you've come to the right place! Here are some tips and resources to get you started.

3-story Queen Anne Victorian home with light green siding, wood trim, large front porch and corner turret.

South Orange Zoning - Additions & Remodels

Initial Planning & Budgeting  - Additions & Remodels

Given the explosion of Essex County home values in 2021, we have seen a tremendous increase in projects. With an abundance of pre-war homes, a lot of our South Orange projects include opening-up kitchens, finishing attics & basements. 


As of October 2021, and based on our experience with recent projects, we estimate new construction costs to average $415 per square foot for kitchens and baths and $315 for dry spaces. Remodeling of an existing space would likely be $100/sf cheaper.

Fortunately, South Orange is home to some of the best General Contractors (GCs) in NJ.  Here's some tips on choosing yours. 

If you've run the numbers and considered that a home addition is the best option for your family, you will want to know if your home can be expanded within the limits of South Orange's zoning ordinance.  The South Orange Zoning Map​ indicates what zone your home is in and then the Bulk Regulations define the rules for your zone. Your property survey will indicate many of your existing setbacks and measurements. If your desired addition requires a zoning variance, it becomes a project to be applied for to South Orange's Board of Adjustments, a volunteer group which meets monthly. In some cases, a variance cannot be avoided, but we generally try to look for design solutions that meet your needs without having to apply for a variance. Following the devastating flooding of Tropical Storm Ida in September 2021, South Orange is very sensitive to lot coverage requirements. These mandate how much of your property can be covered by "impervious" surfaces - buildings, driveways, decks, patios, etc.

Schematic Design

Our objective with home additions and remodels is to be as sensitive to the existing home style as possible, while providing the desired needs for this new space. We ask our clients a lot of questions during the Discovery process in order to deliver a well designed and custom solution. What is its intended use? How will it be furnished? Who will use it? How will it relate to the indoor and outdoor spaces of the existing home? Once the schematic design progress is complete, we move on to Construction Drawings for competitive bidding or pricing by GCs.

Competitive Bid

We recommend that homeowners get competitive bids from local GCs and we can recommend several that we have worked with before and continue to work with. Besides the GC, some homeowners may have additional professionals that we would include in the design team including landscape architects & designers, interior decorators & designers, pool designers, kitchen designers, audio-video specialists, etc.

Building Permit

Once the General Contractor is selected, the homeowner will go into contract with the GC, and the GC will submit the drawings for a South Orange Building permit.  Most permits require a Building, Electric, Plumbing portion with some larger projects requiring Fire Protection, HVAC or Home Elevation (elevators) portions. South Orange has a fairly robust FAQ page on what projects require a building permit. NJ law requires that permit applications be reviewed within 25 days. We have found the South Orange Building department office to be very efficient and helpful. South Orange requires that a zoning review be completed if the project impacts the exterior envelope.

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Construction for an addition generally begins with the foundation work (with inspections). Next, and also included with remodels is framing, roofing, windows & doors. Oftentimes an addition project will progress to this point prior to "breaking through" of the existing home in order to minimize the time that homeowners and their families would be in a work zone.  The next phase would be rough plumbing, electric and HVAC work (Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning). This is followed by rough inspections of all impacted trades (plumbing, electric, HVAC, framing, insulation). Once these inspections have passed, the project can get drywalled followed by finished millwork, tiling, plumbing and electric. The last phases are the final inspections for each trade and the final "punch list" of remaining items.

Are you ready to being your home addition or remodel? Let's get started!

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