Sometimes homeowners develop plans for a home remodel or addition only to discover that there is some restriction that prohibits what they want to do. The best way to avoid this situation is to visit or call your local (city, town or county) building codes and inspections office. Many municipalities now have all of this information available for download from web sites.

The first thing to check is zoning ordinances. These laws will often limit the total height of a house in a particular area or neighborhood or set regulations for setbacks — the distance the walls of the house must be from the edges of the property.

The next step, which you can accomplish in the same way, is to check local building codes. Building codes will outline minimum room sizes, number of windows required, minimal requirements for building materials, number of bathrooms required, and more.

Finally, don’t forget to check with your homeowner’s association for any restrictions they impose. Particularly in historic districts, there might be restrictions even on paint colors.