Thanks Ryan, I Like You Too
Normally I would put the following letter in my "Letters"
page but I thought this one deserved more attention.
The first reason is, the writer pays me a nice
The second reason is that it sums up perfectly what I
have been advocating for quite some time.
The writer read my book, acted on my information &
planned & designed a beautiful addition to his home.
As you will read he is still working at it. He is doing all
the right things & he is going to be rewarded
handsomely for his efforts.
In doing so he will save a substantial sum of money
with the contractor & he will have added more value to
his house than if he had haphazardly sat back & let
someone else do the work for him.
If you know what you want to do, & know how to go
about doing it, then you will succeed at adding more
value at a lower cost.
The writer sent me a layouts of his job & asked if I
would comment on them for any improvement. I was
happy to do so. He also wrote his own bid sheet
detailing all the questions he wanted answered from
I have included the email & replies at the bottom of
You do not have to be nearly as proficient as Ryan was
with his plans but you have to have something to offer
a contractor other than "I think I want to add some
space to my house" (Don't laugh, I heard that comment
more than once.)
Contractors are not therapists, counselors or
mediators between husband & wife. They do not exist
so they can help you make up your mind whether to
remodel the kitchen or build a dormer.
Their only function is to take your money, after they
have done what they have agreed to do. Nothing
wrong with that. (I'll stop here before I start to write
OK, Here's the letter & replies
I purchased your e-book "How to plan, design and
complete a room addition over your garage" a few
months ago. This was the best $29 I have ever spent.
Thank you for making your wisdom and insight
available to novices.
I have read your material thoroughly and based on
your recommendations I think I'm ready to call a few
contractors and get bids. However, before I call,
would you mind looking at the outline that I plan to
use? So they can get an idea of what we wanted, I
scanned our current blue prints into the computer and
quickly mocked up what we we're looking for. (see
floorplan0.jpg and floorplan1.jpg) Basically we're
wanting to install a stairwell in lieu of the foyer closet
to get to a large game room. An additional set of stairs
will be required to get to an office and bathroom due
to different ceilings heights on the first floor. (We
expect to have 10' ceilings in the game room and 8'
ceilings in the office.)
The only other question we have is: Do you think it's
necessary to have a structural engineer evaluate the
foundation or just the impact of the new addition on
the existing structure?
I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing any
suggestions you may have.
Thank you for your nice compliment. Makes me feel
warm & fuzzy all over.
Now let me return the compliment & tell you that you
have really done your homework well. I give you an A+
for your planning & an A for design. The contractors
will know exactly what you want to do & should be able
to price out your job quickly & competitively. I
guarantee you that you have saved a bunch of money
with your preparation.
I only have a few comments to make. I would think
about adding another window to the outside exterior
wall. Since it is going to be a game room you might
want more light. There is also the possibility of a
skylight if you so choose. Let me stress that I am not
telling you that you should do it, but I am suggesting
you give it some thought. It is hard to have too many
windows in a room like this.
Also give some thought to putting bi-fold doors on the
closet in the office, but if you don't, then change the
swing of the door so it opens against the wall, not into
the room as you have it now.
It is not clear to me how you are proposing to lay out
the staircase. The way you have it drawn it looks as
though you will have to enter the garage to get to the
stairs & if this is the case then changes have to be
made. The obvious way would be to start the steps in
the foyer & continue into the garage area about 8" to
the top of the stairs where you will have a landing
area. From that point you can turn left to the game
room or turn right to the office.
I see you are installing a shower in the bath. Do you
really need a three piece bath in this area? If so, then
go ahead, but I wonder how many times that shower
will be used. The plumbing, ceramic tile & shower
enclosure will add up to a large sum of money that you
might want to use elsewhere.
There is no need for the expense of an engineer.
When the plans are submitted to the building
department they will almost surely ask to have the
footings verified. This can be done by the contractor. If
you have a copy of the original house plans then they
should suffice. If not, then the contractor can have a
man dig a hole next to the foundation so the footing is
exposed for a building inspector to verify. There is
probably a 90% chance that they will be more than
Hope my comments help
Thanks for the quick response. I will likely incorporate
a few more windows in the game room and change that
closet door. The office will double as our guest room
and so I think we'll need the shower, but I appreciate
the comment. I think we're on the same page with the
stairs but based on your comments, I need to clarify on
the drawings how to get to them. I was envisioning
converting the foyer closet doorway into the stairway
opening. (At the top of the stairs I originally wanted to
turn left to get into the office but due to the height
differences between the first floor ceilings, it made for
an awkward intersection with the additional stairs.)
I have to thank you once again for your help.(We were
going to go hire an architect before we read your
material so you have already saved us hundreds of
planning on calling some contractors
next week but if I have anything else I may shoot you
another e-mail. If you have any other ideas, please
feel free to send them as well.