Say I someday want to have a large estate, but for right now I just want to build the living room, kitchen, one bathroom, etc. and next year add another bedroom, library, etc. either adjoining or above the current build and more the next year and so on.

I know I should make sure I run utilities for what I want the house to be eventually. But how should I leave everything in the walls and ceilings that I know are eventually going to be opened? How should I leave the electrical/plumbing/HVAC and what kind of insulation should I use...? Any other considerations?

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    I was about to type a really long answer but it would take a couple hours and we all have better things to do. That is how much info you need. To make a long story short... no matter what you do, it will cost much more over time to build like this, you will have less options, and the efficiency of everything will not be as good. – DMoore Apr 13 '19 at 5:38
  • This is very common in Alaska, but codes do not apply to most places in Alaska. It is build as you can afford and then life happens and you have a 16'x20' "cabin" that is wrapped in tyvek for 60 years. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. Move to Alaska and we will build it together. :) – Alaska Man Apr 13 '19 at 19:40
  • If you want electrical to be flexible, consider the extra expense of running it in conduit and run a few large extra conduits to where future areas will be. Minimise the number of bends you will eventually need. This way you can add significant functionality (data wiring/extra circuits) at a later date. – K H Apr 14 '19 at 2:20

Assuming you have a floor plan that you like, there are 4 main issues: 1) Building Codes, 2) Planning Department, 3) CC&R’s, 4) utilities.

1) The Building Code requires certain building requirements that may not be apparent with a small house, but is required in a larger building, (i.e.: shear walls, larger footings for brick or stone walls, setback requirements, etc.)

2) The Planning Department has requirements such as maximum lot coverage, setback requirements, etc.

3) CC&R’s, if any, have specific requirements such as minimum size house (mini-mansion sub-division), maximum height restrictions, etc. CC&R’s are included in your “paperwork “ when you purchased the property. I’d re-visit your documents and make sure you understand terms like, “sight lines”, “natural materials”, etc.

4) utilities are difficult to re-do half way through a project. If you are on a septic tank and drainfield, your soil may only allow a two bedroom house, etc.

Therefore, I’d recommend you provide plans and specifications for the “final” design, not for the initial construction phase. Btw, codes and planning issues change from time to time. So, getting the entire project approved now will negate any changes that come along in the future. (However, most Building Permits have a time limit. I’d verify with your local jurisdiction.)

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    Also note it depends that if a city counts an "addition" as finishing the house or an after addition - if they never think your house if finished and signed off on... well they can retro screw you on any new code changes. Could cost a lot of money and I have been there. – DMoore Apr 13 '19 at 5:42

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