So, you think you are definitely ready to take the plunge. After too many years of bumping into furniture, squeezing the family into a cramped kitchen for dinner, or doubling up the kids in shared rooms, you are finally in a good situation to put an addition onto your home.
You are excited at the possibilities, but also overwhelmed at the number of choices that lay before you. What you need is to approach this project with solid home addition plans in mind before you begin.
Dreaming up your ideal home addition can be a lot of fun, but there are several important considerations for every homeowner to be aware of. Based on years of experience with helping homeowners put beautiful and functional additions onto their homes, here are our best home addition ideas and tips.
Things to Consider before the Project Begins
Do You Need an Addition at All? – Adding an addition onto your home is one of the costliest projects you can undertake. For this reason, it is worth considering whether your goals can be accomplished simply through remodeling, as opposed to building an entire addition.
Skilled home remodelers can make excellent use of the space you already have within your home’s existing “footprint.” Remodeling services are significantly cheaper because there are no additional foundations to pour, and fewer (if any) legal or zoning considerations. Speak with a design consultant or an architect to determine if the layout of your home could be changed to maximize space and efficiency.
Building Up, or Building Out? – Generally speaking, there are two types of home additions: additions that build up, and additions that build out.
“Building up” generally refers to adding an additional floor, and is therefore a popular choice for those who live in ranch-style homes. Some two-story homes or split levels may also consider building up, although it is not as common. The main concerns with adding floors to a home include zoning, and whether or not the existing foundation can handle the additional weight.
“Building out” refers to expanding the footprint of your home by adding additional square footage at the ground level. This requires additional foundation material to be poured, as you are putting a structure where there is currently none. The main concerns with expanding a home’s footprint include property setbacks, and uniformity of the exterior.
Have You Checked Your Local Laws? – A call to your township office is probably in order before you begin getting too many home addition ideas. Sometimes, something as simple as adding a bathroom, even if you are not expanding the foundation of your home at all, could require a permit from your local municipality. Make sure that any contractor you choose to work with has cleared all work with local government before beginning.
Is Your Budget Realistic? – It pays to research, and get quotes from several different contractors before getting too far into any planning. Home addition costs can vary wildly based on a number of factors, most of which cannot be predicted by the average layman. The more information you are armed with, the more accurately you can budget for this project.
Which Materials Will be Used? – Talk to your contractor about the materials which will be used in the project. Materials can greatly affect cost, however they can also greatly affect the stability and longevity of a construction project. Ideally, you are looking for a balance of high quality, durable materials, and a reasonable price.
Are You Prepared for the Disruption Caused by a Large Construction Project? – Most people anticipate a bit of noise, a bit of dust, and a bit of inconvenience as part of their room addition project. However, not many people completely grasp what exactly constitutes “a bit of noise,” or “a bit of dust.”
Adding on a home addition can sometimes require a tremendous amount of your house to be sacrificed as active workspace. Bedrooms may have to be given up for weeks, if not months at a time; kitchens can sometimes be unusable for extended periods, and continuous construction noise may haunt your house during all daylight hours.
Be sure that you are having frank and honest conversations with your contractor about the inconvenience you’re about to experience. Homes with new babies, elderly or unhealthy relatives, or shift workers who are hoping to catch some shut-eye through the morning and afternoon, may not be ideally situated for an addition at this time.
Making a Home Addition Pay Off – The Dos and Don’ts
It stands to reason that because home additions are so expensive, many homeowners are interested to know how much of a return on investment they can expect. A general rule of thumb in real estate sales is that you can expect anywhere from a 30% to 65% return on investment for added or upgraded construction.
Even if you are not planning on selling your home, it is possible that you might consider taking out a home equity loan at some point in the future. In which case, you want to make sure that your home appraises for as much as possible.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow to make sure you get the most out of your investment:
- Make the addition work for you. Few families make the decision to add on to their homes immediately prior to putting them on the market. Instead, most families intend to make use of their home additions themselves. Be sure to identify your key wants and needs, and talk to a contractor to make sure that as many of them as possible are reflected in your plans.
- Add highly sought after features. If you do have any notion that your house may end up on the market, even if it is a decade from now, it can pay to include features that many home buyers are seeking.
- Stay away from overly bold or modern design choices. It can be very tempting to try to emulate the pictures you see in design or architecture catalogs. However, remember that those catalogs are meant to display trends of the moment, not so much trends that have stood the test of time. With an investment of this size, you want to make sure that it will be just as enjoyable to you 20 years from now, as it will be the day it is completed.
- Have a plan from the get go. When speaking with your contractors and designers, be sure that you are including all of the design features that you want and need. It is much more affordable to plot out the project once, and stick to the plan, then it is to continually reconfigure a project that is already underway.
- Vet your contractor, designer, and architect. Working with reputable builders is one of the easiest ways to make sure that you are getting what you paid for. Ask for referrals from friends and family, read reviews from other customers, and meet with the builders in person yourself. Choose a company with an excellent record of dependability, quality, and customer service.
- Match the style of your existing home. Ideally, any addition to your home will blend seamlessly into the exterior. Speak with your contractor about how they intend to make the roof, siding, windows, and other exterior features match up. This can be especially challenging if you live in a historical house, so be sure you are working with someone who understands the materials and style you are looking for.
- Don’t ignore the features in your neighbors homes. If you have any intention to sell your house in the near future, adding on an addition is the perfect time to include features that may be present in your neighbors homes. For instance, if your home has three bedrooms, but the majority of your neighbors homes have four, adding a fourth bedroom to your own home will bring it more in line with the current market value of your neighborhood.
- Don’t assume you have all the construction headaches mapped out. You may find yourself two weeks into a home renovation project, when a termite infestation is discovered. Same goes for a mold problem. Another often overlooked issue: construction vehicles can sometimes do a number on lawns and gardens, so maybe hold off on the landscaping until the project is over.
- Don’t expect a dollar for dollar return on investment. Adding a $50,000 addition to your home will not necessarily increase the market value of your home by $50,000. For this reason, it is usually recommended that an addition be primarily for you, and your family. Additions can certainly help you sell your home further down the line, but again, meter your expectations. The average return on investment is usually between 30% and 65%.
- Don’t build more than one addition if it’s not necessary. Let’s see if this sounds familiar: you would like to add a family room extending out into your backyard, but you would also like to bump out the kitchen, which is closer to the front of your house. It might seem like a good approach would be to add one addition out back, and then a second one out front. In reality, you’re paying much more than what you need to. A good general rule is that a single addition and interior remodeling is far more affordable than two separate addition projects.
Popular Addition Projects
Two Story Addition – For two-story, or split-level homes, a two-story addition is often a popular option, as it extends the entire profile of your home, doubling the added space on a single foundation. This could allow for several combinations, including: a garage and a bedroom, a family room and an extended master suite, an office and a nursery, two full bathrooms, or just a little extra square footage on both upper and lower floors.
Single Story Addition – Single-story additions can extend a ranch home, or help add an extra ground-floor room onto a multi-story house. These structures are often used for adding: a garage, a home office, and expanded kitchen, a sunroom/three-season room, an enclosed porch, an extra bedroom, an extended family room, a home bar, or game room.
Exterior Building Additions – Some homes have the square footage they need for living, but lack for storage space. Detached garages, sheds, or other outbuildings can be very helpful in this regard. A good contractor can have these buildings hooked up to water and electricity too!
Hopefully this list is made you feel better prepared for undertaking your own home addition project. When shopping around for contractors to handle your home remodeling, consider Maya. We are reliable, affordable, and have been helping families in the Chicago area remodel and transform their homes for decades.