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Successful Renovations and Additions – A Continuing Education Course for Wisconsin Contractors

The following is a snippet from the highly popular 3 hour course Successful Renovations and Additions.

The following is just a small portion of what you'll learn from the 3-hour course on Successful Renovations and Additions.

Let’s face it, architects, engineers, and builders are not trained in renovation work. The issues surrounding a building renovation are unique and knowing how to respond just can’t be found in books; a person simply has to experience it. Based on thirty years of contending with the specific challenges of building renovations, this course will relay the ins-and-outs of remodeling.

The topics covered in this lesson will address the simple as well as the more complex. This course will highlight the right questions, demonstrate how to investigate the important conditions and bring attention to the critical issues. Through the many following examples, this lesson will offer instruction on how to approach a renovation or addition project with justified confidence.


Renovations are distinct from additions in that they require the designer to work exclusively with the existing building. The owner has decided to retain an existing building even though he is discontent with the current conditions. This all makes sense from the owner’s perspective. But it presents some very unique challenges to the design/build team. The following is a discussion of some of the particular issues surrounding renovations.


Existing conditions. Secure existing available drawings. If at all possible, acquire a copy of any existing construction documents that might still be around. Check with the owner, prior owners, the building department or even hunt around in the attic or basement of the building. These drawings can hold critical details about the location of buried systems and the methods used in construction.

Existing building survey and measurement. If the existing construction documents are not available, conduct a survey of the existing building. This is, of course, time-consuming and somewhat risky. The owner has not provided critical information but still requires you to execute as if you have those drawings. As a result, this will need to be mentioned in the agreement with the owner. The contract will need to both provide compensation for the added time to measure the existing building, and it will need to afford some protection from claims made as a result of not having sufficient information.

A survey should include a thorough measurement of the building on all floors including the inside and outside of the building. This provides a way to check dimensions. I encourage an ample supply of photos or even video. This will allow for confirmation of conditions once you are off-site. I also recommend that the measurements be used to create a base-sheet of the existing building on every floor. It is unlikely that a designer will be able to effectively design a renovation or addition without a drawing indicating the existing conditions.

Remember, whenever entering an existing building, take measures to protect your safety!

  • Visit the site in pairs.
  • Have proper identification on hand to protect yourself from accusations.
  • If there are people on site, consider notifying the building owner immediately and confirm that the building measurement can proceed.
  • Make sure to be as professional as possible while visiting an existing building.
  • Avoid any situation where someone might bring an accusation of wrongdoing and end up having no one to confirm your side of the story.

Also, consider carrying a spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol in your vehicle. After making a site visit to a multi-family residential building, spray your shoes and ankles to exterminate any bedbugs. These creatures have become so prevalent in multi-family housing (including hotels) that they will almost certainly be encountered on a site visit. Also, the alcohol content needs to be 90% or greater to be effective, so this will likely need to be ordered online.

When measuring an existing building, be as accurate as is reasonable, but work to establish a mutually agreed upon level of precision with the owner. Existing conditions can make it difficult to make precise measurements. Errors can become cumulative, and the result is that the overall length of a building or space might be quite different from the actual dimension. Any drawings that are produced as a result of these measurements should give instruction to the builder to verify the dimensions in the field.

Need a license or Continuing Education? Check out the information below and get started today. 

Classes to Obtain a Dwelling Contractor Certification

The first step in obtaining a Dwelling Contractor Certification is completing a 12-hour Wisconsin-approved course. Builders License Training Institute offers this course online for only $95 or as a hard copy book for $135. Individuals who choose to complete the course online will have instant 24/7 online access from any internet capable device. Individuals who choose the hard copy version must wait until the course arrives in the mail to begin. Once the course is completed, they are required to send the book back to the Builders License Training Institute for grading. After finishing the 12-hour course contractors must complete two applications - Dwelling Contractor & Dwelling Contractor Qualifier.

Dwelling Contractor Continuing Education

Dwelling Contractors must renew their license every two years by the anniversary of licensure. In order to renew, contractors must complete 12-hours of approved continuing education. Builders License Training Institute also offers this course online or as a hard copy book to be completed and mailed in for grading.

Commercial Building Inspector Continuing Education

Building Inspectors must complete 24 hours of continuing education annually by June 30th. Builders License Training Institute offers 12-hours Wisconsin approved online building inspector continuing education.

Why Choose Builders License Training Institute for your Wisconsin initial certification & continuing education needs?

Builders License Training Institute courses are available in HD video, full narration, or printable text, meaning your classes can be catered to your unique learning style. Online classes are available 24/7 from any internet capable device with the benefit of our team of licensing experts to walk you through any issues you may have.


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