By Chris Peterson
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Additional info for Black & Decker The Complete Guide to Room Additions: Designing & Building *Garage Conversions *Attic Add-ons *Bath & Kitchen Expansions *Bump-out Additions
Scrutinize wood shingles or lap siding for signs of mold or rot. Examine exterior windows and doors as part of your survey. Any addition increases the workload of the home’s heating and cooling systems, so you want to ensure the house is as weathertight as possible. If the windows are old, single-pane units, the addition may be just the excuse you need to upgrade to more energy-efficient windows all around. Verify that weatherstripping is intact around doors and windows, and that the casing joints are properly flashed, caulked, and watertight.
This is wise. When it comes to assessing electrical needs and capacity, it helps to know the basics of how electricity is distributed in the house. Overhead electrical service comes in through a service head and is routed down to your main service panel through large conductors called service entry cables. There, the service is split into many different circuits. Each circuit serves a different room or area in the house, and the circuits should be labeled in the breaker box. Depending on the amperage of the service coming into the house (these days, a 200 amp panel is usually the minimum), the box may have one or more unused circuits that you can dedicate to a new space.
Radon ▶ Test for excessive radon. Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that can enter through basement floors and accumulate, posing a health hazard. Some smoke detectors will detect radon, but only if it is already at dangerous levels. To determine if you have a potential radon problem, you can purchase a fairly expensive digital radon detector, or you can buy an inexpensive home detection kit available at hardware stores. You simply take an air sample with the kit collector and mail the sample to the laboratory.