Can a custom builder make my floor plan bigger? 5 Ways to add square footage.

Yes, a design/build custom builder can add square footage to your floor plan. Below are 5 of the most cost effective ways that Travars Built Homes can add space to your floor plan.

How to make a floor plan bigger: Guest living and multi-gen suites

Adding a small apartment such as a multigenerational, mother-in-law or other extended guest living arrangement to your home usually means adding semi-separated living space. Special adaptations such as adding a private entrance to the exterior are also common. Additional square footage is often necessary to be able to fit in all of the extra requirements.

This kind of modification to a floor plan typically involves rearranging the existing layout, such as changing two bedrooms and a bath on the main floor into one bedroom, bath, and living room – possibly with a kitchenette.

How to make a floor plan bigger: Expanding the kitchen or master bath

This is one of the areas where it’s important to work with the custom builder to create the space you need, as you will be looking at pushing out specific walls to increase a small portion of the home. Sometimes the result you’re looking for can be accomplished within existing square footage. We will show you some options as we talk through your needs.

How to make a floor plan bigger: Basements and bonus rooms

Basements and bonus rooms are common areas to start with when factoring in the need for additional living space. Most one story floor plans – and plans with a two story great room – are good candidates for adding square footage to the second floor.

Pittsboro New Custom House Plans

How to make a floor plan bigger: Adding a sun room, screen porch or covered porches

Indoor/outdoor space is often expanded to increase the ability to utilize more of the property as living area, both in heated square footage as well as exposed areas.

How to make a floor plan bigger: Expanding the garage

Adding a third car garage, carriage garage, or turning a front facing garage to a side load are popular requests for custom homes. Aside from the ability to park more vehicles inside, this is also a great way to have space for hobbies or storage.

As with all modifications to custom floor plans, it’s important to know what can be changed, and how it can impact your curb appeal, roof line, and the build of your new home. When recommending changes to your floor plan, Travars Built Homes will take into consideration the details of your floor plan, homesite, and potential restrictions such as local regulations and community covenants.

Contact us for more ways to customize a floor plan and get it built.

What is a multigenerational home?

Multigenerational homes (sometimes called multi-gen homes, homes with a mother in law suite, or apartment within a home) are designed for families to live together within one single home family dwelling that has an extended guest suite intended for long term stays.

Multigenerational homes are one of the most common reasons why homebuyers choose to build a custom home.

Benefits of a multi-gen home include:

  • Multi-gen homes can spread out the cost of living so that the combined living space is more affordable than having two separate homes. Site costs for one home are less expensive than site costs for two homes, with one clearing, one footing, one septic system, and one foundation. The size of the footprint impacts build costs, so multi-gen homes built with living space on additional floors are typically more cost effective than homes with everyone on one level.
  • Some multigenerational homes have a kitchenette in the secondary living quarters, for increased independence. Other families choose to design a larger kitchen around expanded usage, with elements such as dual ovens, a huge island or even two islands for more prep space, and special arrangements such as a microwave below the counter for easier use and aging-in-place future accessibility. Learn more about making changes to your floor plan, here.
  • Dual master suites give equal prominence to two large bedroom suites with ensuite private bathrooms, big closets and occasionally other private amenities such as a personal sitting area or attached office or laundry room. The location of dual master suites can vary, with the most common arrangements being one on the main floor and one on the second floor, one in the basement, or both on the main floor. Get floor plans with dual master bedrooms, here.
  • Because schedules and lifestyles can vary within shared living arrangements, building in special features that add to privacy is a very good reason to build a custom home, so that you have the opportunity to include features such as sound dampening between walls or from one floor to another. Solid core door options can also lessen sound travel. A private entrance so you can come and go without interrupting the main flow of the house is another way to increase that feeling of having your own space. Depending on the plan and your homesite, you may include an exterior door with a small stoop or porch or another door from the garage to your private hallway.
Multigenerational New Homes

Travars Built Homes can be built in custom home neighborhoods or countryside locations within about an hour of Chapel Hill. We work closely with you to:

Contact us to learn more.

What are the most important questions to ask a home builder?

Are you asking the right questions when you talk with custom builders about costs for your new home?

Here are 7 smart questions to ask custom home builders about their services, processes, and prices – before you sign a contract.

What are the most important questions to ask a home builder?
  1. What’s included in your services? Travars Built Homes is a design/build custom home builder. We cover everything from permits to site assessment, plan modification, construction and completion of your home. We offer the highest quality standard features, finishes, materials and craftsmanship in the local market for affordable custom homes. Read more about our services and standards, here.
  2. Can you help me find a floor plan that can fit my budget? Yes, we will make suggestions for floor plans based on the budget you give us. When we go over plans together, we’ll offer suggestions for layouts and livability of the home, and tell you why certain types of architectural designs take more to build than others, even when layouts may appear to be similar. (Having the same number of square feet does not equate to the same build costs – specialty treatments and detail work in an architectural design that you might not even notice can make a huge impact on your build costs, even when layouts appear to be similar.) We can suggest modifications or alternate plans that can be more cost effective.  
  3. Can you modify my floor plan? Do I need to pay an architect or is the price of modifications included with your home price? Travars Built Homes can make a wide variety of changes to your plan, at no extra charge. We can re-arrange the kitchen, include an in-law or multigenerational suite, add a basement, or convert a two story room into a bonus room upstairs. Ask us about your floor plan – we’ll show you all the possibilities.  
  4. What kind of details can I expect to see in a custom home quote? Your Travars Built spec package will include about 15 pages of details about the materials, processes, services, and energy efficiencies in your home. Keep in mind that you can only compare what is given to you in writing – that’s what will be in your contract.
  5. How much interaction will you have with me when my new home is being built? Our build process at Travars Built Homes is outlined in your personal online portal, where you can stay in-touch and informed about what’s happening with the build of your new home. You will also have the opportunity to meet with your builder on site at all key points during the build. 
  6. Is my site work (such as grading, clearing, driveway, septic, well) included in your pricing? When you choose Travars Built Homes, your site work is allowance based. We allocate dollar amounts for your clearing, grading, footings, etc. The allowances are based on footprint size, topography of the lot, how much vegetation and trees there are, and other factors we consider based on years of experience building new custom homes in North Carolina. And we go over everything with you – just ask us for pricing.
  7. How long does it take to you to build a home?  A typical timeline to build a custom home by Travars Built Homes is about 6-9 months, once the project is underway. Get more details about our timelines to build, here.
What are the most important questions to ask a home builder?

Remember to ask each builder the same set of questions, and request pricing on the same (or very similar) floor plans so there’s no confusion about what’s offered. Want to learn more about the process to build a new custom home in North Carolina? Contact us!

Custom Home Builders

How long does it take to build a custom home?

North Carolina new home building timeline

A typical timeline to build a custom home by Travars Built Homes is about 6-9 months, once the project is underway. We divide your home build timeline into two stages – pre-construction and construction.

What are the key phases of a pre-construction timeline? 

Before we break ground on your new home, we’ll work with you through:  

  • Floor Plan Selection
  • Floor Plan Customization and Design
  • Build Permitting
  • Pre-Construction Prep

Here’s how the overall timeline for your new home build project works:

During the Plan Selection Phase, we help you find a new home floor plan that suits your lifestyle, budget, and home site. Start with some popular floor plans from a variety of architects on our site. Tell us what you’re looking for, if you want something different! The floor plan selection phase usually takes 2-4 weeks.

Custom Home Builders

During Floor Plan Customization and Design, we help modify your floor plan. What are some common changes we make? Here are the kinds of changes we can make to your plan as part of our design phase – at no extra cost to you:

  • Making a master shower larger
  • Separating sinks and vanities
  • Opening up the kitchen or adding an island
  • Adding a mother in law suite or small apartment in the home
  • Turning a front facing garage to a side load
Modern Farmhouse | Chatham County New Homes

Our in house design team works closely with you and your budget. This phase usually takes 2-6 weeks.

New Custom Home Builders

Next, we submit for Build Permits. We’ll do your site assessment in conjunction with your floor plan footprint, water hookup, and setback requirements for your lot – taking things like the slope of your lot and the length of your driveway into consideration. The permit phase usually takes 5-7 weeks.

Upon county approval, we break ground onsite by clearing and prepping for your home’s footing and foundation. Once your footers are in the ground, the typical build time is about 6-9 months.  

New Home Build Timeline

What are the key phases of the home build?

  • Excavation: Grading, clearing and site preparation
  • Foundation, damp proofing
  • Framing
  • Windows and doors
  • Roofing
  • Rough mechanics, electrical and plumbing
  • Siding, exterior paint
  • Insulation
  • Drywall, paint primer
  • Interior trim, flooring
  • Cabinets, counter tops
  • Trim outs/ fixture installs
  • Final paint
  • Final punch work and clean up
  • Move in day!

Our build process at Travars Built Homes is outlined in your personal online portal that keeps you informed about everything happening in your home. You will also have the option to meet with your builder on site at all key points during the build, to talk about what’s happening now – and what’s next. 

Want to know more about the custom home construction process? Reach out with your questions.

What is Design/Build: Working with a Custom Home Builder

Next month, a panel discussion led by Furniture, Lighting & Decor Editor-in-Chief Diane Falvey brings together four experts to talk about leveraging expertise among architects, builders, and designers when building custom homes.

During the panel, “Common Ground: Finding Synergy Among Architects, Builders and Designers,” Phil Travars and Andrew Travars of Travars Built Homes will be talking about the ins and outs of working with a design/build custom home builder in North Carolina.

“Having a clear understanding of the thought process around building a custom home can help everything go smoothly, from design through construction,” said Phil Travars, Owner and Builder at Travars Built Homes. “It’s a great opportunity to talk directly with experts from across the industry.”

About 75,000 people from across the country and internationally are expected to attend the bi-annual Furniture Mart event represented by more than 100 countries, for architects, designers, furnishings buyers and others looking for the latest information and products for homes.

The Travars brothers were asked to participate in the event to share their thought leadership about home building and designing together with CIRCLE Design Studio, LLC Principal Architect John Dorlini and Principal/Owner Theresa A.C. Dorlini.

Topics about the custom home build process are expected to include:

  • How designers and builders work together compose a custom home.
  • How creativity can create excitement through different points of view.
  • What to look out for when choosing a custom home on a budget.
  • What to think about as you integrate designs for furniture, lighting, fixtures and finishes into your new home.

“This is a great opportunity to bounce around ideas for your new home, if you’re considering a custom build,” said Andrew Travars, Builder and Designer at Travars Built Homes. “We put a lot into making each home unique – this panel will help explain what it takes to create through design/build.”

Travars Built Homes builds new custom homes in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham and the surrounding region. Get information about building a custom home:

How Your Homesite Can Affect The Bottom Line

Topography, soil, regulations – here’s how your lot requirements and footprint can impact your new home build cost

The spot where your home can be built on your lot is dependent on a variety of factors in North Carolina. Here are terms and factors you need to know about aspects that can impact your homesite – and build cost.

Homesite: The spot on your lot where your home will be built

The final decision about the location for your homesite is determined by more than what you can see at first glance, such as the direction it will face or what’s outside the windows. As a turnkey builder in NC, some of the most common factors we will discuss with you regarding your footprint are topography, soil and regulations. Here’s why that’s so important:

How to build a new home in North Carolina

Footprint: The shape and size of amount of space your home takes up on the ground

If you look at what the imprint of your home will be on the dirt where it is built, what does that shape look like? That’s your “footprint”. Whether your home is a square box, stretches out horizontally or vertically, has a courtyard, or has lots of “cutouts” that turn and curve in a variety of directions, everywhere it touches affects your build costs. The more simplistic, the less it usually costs to build a home with that footprint. The more complex, the more it can take to get everything done, starting with the topography and soil.

Topography: The amount of slope in your lot

Take a look at the Topo Map (short for topographical map) below. This is an example of what topography looks like, on a Geographic Information System (GIS). Although each county in NC has its own GIS system and representation, the lines you see here are indicative of how much slope this area has. The closer the lines are together, the more slope there is. The slope of your lot can help determine if your home will require a basement, crawl space, tall crawl, or slab on grade. In North Carolina, a crawl space foundation is the most common, unless the home is accessible in which case a slab on grade is used most often built. We will talk with you about how the topography affects your lot and homesite, specifically, at your lot assessment.

How to build a new home in North Carolina

Soil: Support for your septic system as well as your home

Soil quality and consistency vary across North Carolina. Here are two of the most important reasons why soil plays a major factor in the build of your new home:

The homesite where your home will be placed needs to have appropriate compaction and bearing capacity. Probe Tests as well as taking into consideration aspects such as slope, exposed rock, size of trees, potential wet lands, and other factors in which soil plays a part.

How to build a new home in North Carolina

A Percolation Test (abbreviated as a “Perc Test”) is required on most lots of over 1/2 acre to determine the water absorption rate of soil, which will indicate the type of septic system that is required. Your builder will interpret the results that a soil scientist or the county provide, and tell you next steps and build costs. A conventional system will usually have the least cost. A pump may be required, which would add to costs. An engineered system for a drip system or pre-treat drip system are the most expensive and take the most time to get approved. We will walk you through how this works as part of our initial overview of your build processes and steps.

How to build a new home in North Carolina

Regulations: Local requirements and community covenants

Every new home must have build permits before it can be built. TBH will handle those for you, along with everything else necessary for the build of your home on your lot. Here’s how local requirements and covenants come into play as you choose where you want to build your new home:

Most new homes are built in communities, regulated by a Home Owners Association (HOA): Each neighborhood has its own set of rules and restrictions, detailed in Community Covenants. You will want to read Covenants thoroughly before purchasing a lot. Experts can also help you understand potential building restrictions within a neighborhood. Architectural Review Boards (ARBs) review details about a new home, such as exterior paint colors and materials such as brick or stone. Your new home will need to be approved by these committees if you want to build in their neighborhood.

How to build a new home in North Carolina

Even new homes that are built in the countryside are subject to local requirements, typically set down by the county. This can include things like how much clearing you can do, what the setback requirements are from the street, and other mandates specific to that location.

Contact Us for a lot walk and assessment or any other building questions.

How Soon After I Sign a Purchase Agreement Will Construction Begin on my Custom Home, and How Long Will it Take?

We can start your custom home build process directly after your purchase agreement is signed, with site work scheduled as soon as building permits are in hand. Here are the first steps we take together before the shovel hits the ground:

How to build a custom home in North Carolina.
  • Modifications you want to make to your floor plan
  • Documented details about features, finishes, materials and pricing
  • Lot walk for site assessment with home’s footprint
  • Loan closed for home construction (and lot, if not already owned)
  • Review of architectural and engineered blueprints
  • HOA architectural review, if applicable
  • Improvement Permits, if applicable
  • Build Permits
  • Preliminary survey and home location plat map
How to build a custom home in North Carolina.

The typical time frame for a Travars Built Home is 6 to 9 months from when we begin the actual construction, depending on the size and type of home and the location of the build.

Contact Us with any of your questions or see what others have asked already, FAQ’s and answers.

How can a lot walk save trees – and some green?

What’s the best way to save trees when you build your new house? What needs to go? What roles do planning and surveying play in tree preservation? Here’s what you need to know before you clear your lot.

New Home Construction Chapel Hill NC

Never clear your lot before you talk with the county building department and your builder – especially if you will need a septic system.

There are also rules about how much can be cleared due to impervious limits, environmental regulations, government mandated erosion requirements, easements and other imperatives.

Travars Built Homes provide a lot walk and assessment that includes a discussion of tree retention, before any clearing occurs. Your builder will also discuss things like the slope of the lot, possible water routes, the footprint of your home and its build site. You’ll learn a lot about the first stages of the build – as well as ways to save tree trunks and greenbacks.

New Home Construction Chapel Hill NC

The amount of clearing required is based on your house footprint, based on the perimeter of your home with about 15-20′ of clearing on each side of your home, when the lot and setbacks allow for it. That amount of space provides room for sidewalks, parking pads, fences and foot traffic to get around the house.

Unless you request more tree removal – within the parameters of what is allowed for your location – it is our goal to retain every tree possible within the area that we need to safely get your home built. When your desire is to have a wooded lot, we want to preserve that natural beauty for you as much as possible.

If your home needs a septic system, the amount of trees removed in your septic field depend on specific requirements and there are areas that cannot be disturbed, to allow for that critical system to be installed and function properly.

New Home Construction Chapel Hill NC

It is not always possible to save every tree that you would like to retain. Trees have varying root systems, some of which are more extensive than others. White oak, Hickory and Walnut trees have some of the deeper root systems. Pine trees (which there are many of in North Carolina) have shallow root systems that can be less stable. For the most part roots are 12-24″ deep and extend out from the tree in a radius. You can measure tree diameter at chest height and multiple that by 12 to get a good idea of where roots end. The drip line or canopy can also be used as a rough guide, with the furthest branch as your measurement.

Contact Us to schedule your lot walk where your home site determinations will be provided. We will discuss site work for the fit of your home to your lot. This pre-construction meeting on site with your builder will help you envision where your home and driveway can be placed.

Penguin Place, Pittsboro

At the entrance to Chatham Park, an interactive restaurant trio provides plenty of space and seating indoors and out, to gather with friends and family.

Penguin Place is a great place to get together, in the town of Pittsboro. Located at 15-501 and Hwy 64, there is something for everyone, with a co-op feel between this trio of venues.

The Root Cellar offers family dining, from-scratch meals, sandwiches, baked goods and soft drinks. House of Hops, next door, offers over 400 different beers, 24 taps, large screen TVs for sports viewing and even welcomes dogs. Marco’s is just two doors down and offers some of the best pizza in town.

Root Cellar

The Root Cellar offers neighborly greetings from the folks behind the counters and a warm décor that will make you feel right at home. But what is Root Cellar? This already popular restaurant, catering company, bakery, and café combines gourmet food with homespun appeal. Their specialty is scratch-made foods, featuring local products with ingredients from nearly a dozen local farms. Their menu has a wide variety of options. Sodas with home-made appeal are refill yourself which is even more enticing – try the rootbeer! Root Cellar is open every day but Tuesday with breakfast, lunch, dinner, baked goods and local coffee. Some of our favorites on the menu are the Daily Omelet Special with grits, the Triple Decker, BLT chicken Ceasar wrap, and the Cubano.

In addition to using ingredients from nearly a dozen local farms, the Root Cellar also sells many items made in North Carolina, including Cloister Honey, Foster’s Market 7-Pepper Jelly, Big Spoon Roasters Peanut and Almond Butters, The Phantom Bakers Bars, and Carolina Grits.

Too busy to cook during the week? You can get a whole week of meals to go, made fresh for you in about 30 minutes. While you are waiting for your order, check out their market with many specialty items like dry pasta, pancake syrup and mixes, spice rubs, marmalades and jams and a whole lot more.

House of Hops

This is the third House of Hops franchise in the Triangle Region, with the other two located in Raleigh. So if you are familiar with the name you know what to expect. House of Hops has 24 beers on tap, and constantly rotate new ones in. Perfer a bottle? House of Hops stocks over 400 different bottle and can beers. Looking for beer to go and not sure you want to commit to something you haven’t tried before? Create your own 6 pack to go and mix and match – such as a mix of IPA, Sour and a couple of Browns.

Along with other certainties in life, it’s good to know that House of Hops has a bowl of water for your 4 legged friends. Dogs are welcome inside at House of Hops as long as they are on a 6′ leash.

A couple of couches provide a home-like setting to lounge in if you don’t want to sit at the high top tables, and there are plenty of activities for everyone, including ping pong, a weekly run club and regular events like trivia, live music and chili cook-offs – even more reason to visit House of Hops!

House of Hops does not offer food but you can place a order next door at Root Cellar and they will bring it over to you!

Marco’s Pizza

Marco’s was founded in 1978 by Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco. The authentic Italian quality is still drawing a crowd, with dough, sauce and cheese all made fresh – never frozen.

Feel like a sandwich or salad? Marco’s menu includes lots of choices.

You can place your order at Marco’s and hop next door to drink a beverage, play ping pong or other games, and lounge with friends while you wait. Marcos will bring your pizza to you at House of Hops – and you can eat it there!

Penguin’s Place is another favorite local place to go in Pittsboro – in the middle of one of the fastest growing areas in North Carolina. Travars Built Homes is your local custom builder – and we love this place.

Let us know what other places you’d like to know more about in the Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham areas and other nearby regions.

Modern Farmhouse | Chatham County New Homes

How to Modify a Floor Plan

Looking for ways to change your floor planSee 3 examples of how we can modify the Blufton Way, a floor plan by Frank Betz, with some popular floor plan characteristics. Ask us for more information about design-build custom homes in Durham, NC.

Option 1: Looking for ways to open your floor plan? Create a vaulted ceiling in the family room.

How to Modify a Floor Plan | Custom Homes Durham NC
The Bluffton Way floor plan by Frank Betz.

The Bluffton Way is an open floor plan with 2669 sq ft, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a main floor master, huge kitchen, and open family room.

The modification you see in the rendition above indicates the possibility of going from a flat 12′ ceiling to a vaulted 18′ ceiling with a open rail overlook.

Adding ceiling beams to the family room vault ceiling can provide even more eye appeal and personality.

Option 2: Need another garage stall for a shop, hobby area, or third car – but don’t want to change the front exterior of your floor plan? Consider a carriage garage.

How to Modify a Floor Plan | Custom Homes Durham NC

The Bluffton Way floor plan by Frank Betz.

What is a Carriage Garage?

A carriage style garage floor plan has a third stall set to the side, apart from the main garage. (Attaching a traditional third stall to the existing garage would push the front elevation out another 10-14 feet.)

Option 3: Need a spacious place to gather? Add a cost effective bonus room, game room, theater, kids playroom, homeschool, or flex room.

How to Modify a Floor Plan | Custom Homes Durham NC
The Bluffton Way floor plan by Frank Betz.

One of the most cost effective ways to add square footage to your floor plan is to eliminate the 2 story great room and add a huge bonus room above it. The ceiling in the great room can still feel spacious – simply add a few steps into the bonus room to keep your 11’+ ceiling height.

Get information about building a custom home with Travars Built Homes – including more ways to modify your plan in Durham, NC.