Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page is the Introduction


You have a circular saw in one hand and a hammer in the other. You squint speculatively at the sliding glass door that leads from the dining room to the patio. Taking a slow step forward, you "ching" the saw blade to give yourself confidence, for you are about to do the unthinkable: cut into a perfectly good wall, tear out that sliding glass door and replace it with a breakfast nook. The prospect is daunting, and, once you begin, there is no turning back. Once you poke that hammer through that drywall, you must complete the job or face the ever-present reminder of your fool-hardy, inconstant nature because that gaping hole in the wall will prompt the ridicule of your wife and the condescension of your neighbors until the job is complete.

I admit I was foolish enough to take that first step. I punched the hole in the wall with a hammer, and more: I tore half the roof off my house during the rainy season in Seattle; I ripped into a perfectly good plumbing system and rerouted my power supply; I lived and worked under a sea of blue tarps for two years. I did all this for the sake of 354.56 square feet of living space, and crazy as it seems, I am glad I did it...now that it's over.

Through my work on the house, I learned a lot. I am not ashamed to say that most of it I learned the hard way. (By which is also meant, I made many mistakes before getting things right.) Sure, I could have bought some books before starting, but reading just takes time. I would rather be doing something, and making real progress.

It is only when I am done working on something and I have some leisure to contemplate that I finally get the urge to read about it. This was what prompted my wife and I to go to the bookstore one day. She haunted the mystery section while I, leaning on my cane, peered with my one good eye at several volumes with titles beginning, "How To..." and "101 ways to...". My spouse, seeing my intense interest from across the store (and thinking I was looking at some pornographic literature that she wished to censor), came to my side and lovingly put her arm through mine. She was careful to avoid the sling.

After close scrutiny of a few titles she said, "You notice none of these books tell you how NOT to do something. In your case, I think precautionary information might be more valuable."

I made a low grunt like a boar considering a charge on a defenseless maiden. "I already know how NOT to do things."

"I suppose you're right," she said winningly while patting my bandaged hand. "You do have a lot of experience with doing things the WRONG way. Maybe you should write a book." Having witnessed all of my struggles in the field of home improvement, she pointed out to me the valuable experience that doing things the wrong way has brought to me. It would be a crime not to pass this knowledge on to unwary segments of the public who might someday feel compelled to take on the rigorous challenge of doing their own home improvements.

I consented and embarked upon the monumental and valuable project you now hold in your hands. If this book serves no other purpose, may it teach you the one rule I have never had the patience to implement: think before you act.

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Introduction | Decision Making | Design | Permits | Buying Materials | Demolition | Digging | Masonry | Framing | Electricity | Plumbing | Inspections | Roofing | Sheathing / Siding | Soffits | Insurance | Insulation | Fat Fireman Rule | Drywall | Finish Carpentry | Tile | Painting | Carpet | Done

About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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