Sometimes, bigger IS better, especially in remodeling. But a poorly planned home addition can just as easily make your home worse off structurally, functionally and aesthetically. No worries. We address the critical considerations and common misconceptions during our design-build process so you get it right and there are no surprises. At least no unpleasant ones.
Home Addition Misconceptions
If there’s land, there’s room – Just because you are willing to forfeit some lawn for living space doesn’t mean your community will let you. Zoning regulations require minimum setbacks from your property lines. To be safe, start your home addition concept with your plot plan and survey, not the fence the neighbor erected. Know your limits. There’s nothing worse than planning a project only to have the permit rejected for insufficient sideyard setback.
Going up is always less expensive than bumping out — Depends. Adding a second story saves the expense of a new foundation but the first-floor ceiling joists may have to be enlarged or reinforced. You will need to open up some walls on the first floor to run mechanicals. And you still will need a roof.
Must enlarge to gain space — When existing living space is underused, an addition won’t overcome the problem. The new space could make the old area even less appealing. Before considering expanding up or out, look within. It may make more sense to expand the kitchen into the dining room, convert the formal living room and main level powder room into an accessible bedroom suite. Or make the basement livable with a proper egress window, radon mitigation and drain tile.
Worth Considering for Home Additions
What’s big enough? – I call this approach “go big or go home.” Once you’ve committed to adding on, the cost per square foot actually may shrink a bit when you increase the footprint. On the other hand, if you only need an extra 18-in. to make your new kitchen layout work, keep it small. A cantilevered bump out may be fine.
Melding new and old – Additions need to work with the original structure indoors and out. They should reflect and be scaled to extend and enhance the home’s architectural style. Aligning windows and keeping siding and trim details consistent will help. The enlarged home also should fit the character of the neighborhood. For instance, make a second story addition more down to earth by creating false soffits along the sides. Or add a porch to the front of the home to break the elevation. Indoor considerations include traffic flow and the addition’s impact on natural light and sight lines from existing rooms. Will the porch make the kitchen darker? Will the french doors to the new sunroom conflict with the kitchen table?
The best additions are the ones that look like they were always there. They don’t just add living space. They fit. They flow. They make sense.
Foundations — Additions can be built on piers, footings or foundations. Excavate for a full basement under the addition, install slab on grade if the height is right, or create a crawlspace. Incorporating the new basement with the old will require engineering for a beam to support the load where the original foundation wall is removed. However, if you already have a 36-in.-wide window in the existing foundation wall, you can convert it to a doorway to save time and money.
What’s Keeping You?
Perhaps the most important question when considering a home addition is whether it makes more sense to move to a bigger house or expand the one you’ve got. If you like your neighborhood, have the room and plan to stick around, an addition is a fine option. Let APEX help you improve your quality of life at home. Contact me.