If you’re reading this information guide, it’s assumed that you’re contemplating an addition or renovation to your existing home.  This guide has been designed to give you a sense of what is required for a complete and successful experience in re-making your home.


Regardless whether you’re planning a basic addition or partial or full renovation, you will required, not only for the necessary permits,  a complete set of working drawings for your builder.  The plan is required to show the following:

1. All existing floor layouts (i.e., basement, main and or second floor) indicating the specific layout and dimensions of your existing home.  Of course, the question that often comes up is “if I’m not changing the basement layout, why does it need to be shown?”.  The answer is simple, a basement floor layout is shown to allow for any possible structural changes that may be necessary that your addition or renovation  may require.  Your municipal planning department will require this.  If you’re adding another floor, structural considerations mainly focus on whether the existing structure can provide the additional load-bearing support for it.

2. All elevations (the four sides of the outside) of the existing house is required.  The propose of this is explained later.

  The designer requires this information to accurately set of fee for the new drawings.  If the designer doesn’t know the details, they will often ask for them before quoting a fee.

3.     The propose layouts) of the addition/renovation you’re planning and any changes to the existing structure shown.  Of course, the structural considerations of the new added section (I.e., floor support, beams, load-bearing walls) along with the a detailed electrical plan (for the added piece), location of plumbing fixtures, etc….

 4. All elevations of the proposed addition or renovation  must be shown of the working drawings.  This will allow the planning department and your builder exactly how this new addition relates to your existing building.

 5. Detailed typical construction and any necessary details of the new structure and how it is integrated with the existing building is also necessary.

 6. A site plan (which is a drawing showing your home with the added piece) must also be provided for the planning department.  In Nova Scotia, this can only be done by a Registered Nova Scotia Land Surveyor.


  Without all the above being shown, neither the planning department nor the builder can get an accurate conception of  what is being proposed.  The planning department will reject your submitted plans if they do not show everything mentioned above.  Also, the builder will be unable to give an accurate price and, often, will not be able to give an accurate completion date.

  The purpose of a detailed set of plans is to eliminate any surprises during construction.

  Another question which often occurs is “if I don’t have any existing plan of my house, where does this information come from?”.  Obtaining the original plan of the house is vital whether you built the house from scratch or purchased an already existing house.  Always, make sure that this can be provided.  If you don’t have the original set of blueprints for you’re home—there is two methods that you can take.  Both require a sketch of your existing plans) and measurements  of all exterior and interior walls, support posts, beams, size and spacing of floor joists, doors, windows, chimneys, stairs (both the measurement of their run and number of step from floor to floor).  Photographs (all the way around) must also be taken, preferably with a 110 or 35mm  camera in order to clearly show details of the outside façade.

  If you hire an professional designer and you wish for him/her to come to your house to  do  this, expect  to pay a fee for this service even before any actual drawings can be produced.  It can take several or more hours to accurately do all that is mentioned above.

  However, if you take the time to do this yourself  - you can, for the most part, avoid this expense.


  The cost of a complete set of construction working drawing take more time to generate that a plan of a house built from scratch.  The drawings must comprise two different plans rolled into one—the existing and the proposed.  Therefore, expect to pay more for an addition/renovation than you would in purchasing a new house plan drawing.


  Trying to minimize the cost of the project often requires use as much of the original structure as possible.  This is another reason why addition/renovation drawings cost more.   Thinking  of your changes to the existing house as a giant jigsaw puzzle is the best way to look at your project.  But remember, you may pay more for a proper set of working drawings—you will save multiple times that amount when it actually comes to construction.


  Remember, there is no “stock” or “previously-drafted” addition/renovation plans.  Each case is unique and must be approached in that manner.


  In the final analysis of your project, the most important factor is proper planning (from beginning to end) to make your newly redesigned home an (almost) fun and rewarding experience.