Advice on remodel/expansion of ~1100 soft hom

Hi, First time home buyer here. We are in escrow for our primary SFH 3BR/2BTH 1100 sqft home, which is in original condition and looking for recommendations for expansion/remodel including

  1. Looking for advice/recommendations for adding about 500 sq ft to add a new MBR suite with walking closed and full bath.

I came to this 500 sqft figure, as I read that getting permits for something under 500sqft is easier and can be done over counter.

  1. We also need to update existing 2 full bathrooms and do complete kitchen remodel

  2. All cosmetics including new flooring, garage finish, new paint, knobs, switches etc.

Looking for advice here how should I approach different people. Per my relator, we should start with Architect and get the drawings.

  1. Is it right approach. How much do reasonable architect charge for this kind of job.

  2. What money should I be looking to pay for this remodel and addition.

Any referral for architecture firm to help with this job.

Sorry I may have many questions coming up. Appreciate any inputs.



which area you looking at it?

Is it in san jose? 500 sqft is single day approval. But, you need a good architect/GC (who knows the subject very well) to draw all the remodel plans and get it done.

Since you are first time buyer, I assume you do not have that remodel experience.

Arch are expensive and they charge from $10k-$20k, and many won’t come forward for 500 sqft remodel. Only way is to get a GC who can do it, at cheaper cost. Still, $3k to $5k may be cost.

If it is external addition, easily $350/sqft or more cost you.

Any internal remodel costs are based on finish goods and it can cost you easily $175/sqft (again very rough).

Above all, getting good contractor is really tough for room addition, but internal remodel (without city approval) can be easily done by a handyman.

Finally, covid situation makes it further difficult to work on remodel/addition.

When I asked for a 150 sqft addition for a single bath room, no one was ready to take that job for $40000 and the last year quote for $60000 (minimum). It was futile attempt for me.

Any addition project is going to take 6-9 months easily as managing contractors are not going to be easy.

Long story short, just do internal remodel to make it nice move in and later add 500 sqft when you are comfortable about addition.

Just tried to help you know. Good Luck.

Is in Los Gatos Unincorporated area. Basically Los Gatos ZIP code with Santa Clara County handling permits

Thanks Jil for useful and practical thoughts!

Yeah I talked to couple of architects, and they said, architecture design itself might take 6-8 weeks before permits are ready to be submitted. And then another 6-8 weeks for review and approval( due to Covid, over the counter approval are not happening)

I am now also thinking about doing minimum internal remodel and move in. I don’t have money to pay rent and EMI together. Also my lease is ending on August 31, which sounds like a good timing. ( Property manager does NOT agree to month to month lease)

At same time, I am evaluating if remodel can be re-used while doing whole addition. This seems a tricky situation.

Few things I might need for internal remodel

  1. Carpet change on all 3 BR
  2. refinish Living room floor
  3. Internal repaint whole house
  4. Would like to at least repaint all cabinets(bedroom/kitchen) if not replace to begin with.
  5. Kitchen appliances to be purchased including oven/microwave/fridge. Though existing one are functional but very outdated.
  6. Bathroom remodel in budget, like changing to new toilet pots.

Wish list : New Kitchen counters and cabinet

Would I need permit any of this kind of work? I welcome any references for contractors/handyman who can help with this job.

Thanks again!

Most of what you listed is a cosmetic refresh = fresh surfaces. This is simple and doesn’t require a permit. This is what realtors recommend when prepping a house for sale. I think changing the toilet pots technically requires a permit. Doing new cabinets will require a permit. All you need is a painter and a flooring person to get your cosmetic refresh. Good luck and congrats!

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What Jil mentioned is correct …most of what you listed below appears to be cosmetic so does not need a permit per se. In the bathroom you only need permits if you are moving plumbing adding electrical, changing tub to shower etx to replace tile, replace toilets, replace vanities etx does not need permits. Also keep in mind you can get everything done once you move in but the floors and the painting are best when home is empty so get those done whether carpet / hardwood or combo before you move in…

Regd your bathroom comment I totally believe it …such a small project 150 sq ft hard to find contractors esp good ones …the minimum bid I got was for $45k with the highest going up to $120k for construction cost only …material cost extra …majority came in at $60k as you said … for me it was a 110 sq ft master bath add on


Thanks Guys!
I would need additional piece of advice. We worked with an architect to expand existing rooms a little and add a full bath and move interior walls around for more closet space in all bedrooms.

It’s adding only around 375 sqft to existing house. But when my architect did Point calculation for Santa Clara permit purposes, it comes to be 77. ( seems all walls that needs to be added / removed ) add up costing these points.

He mentioned anything above 55 points is not considered remodel instead rebuild, which has a long/different permit process. This comes as surprise to me.

Appreciate your advice on this. Should I keep most interior same and just add room outside to be within limits? Appreciate any hands on experience/advice on this with Santa Clara County.