Home Additions Articles
Fact is, not all home additions are created equal. Whether you’re doing a room addition or a multi-story addition, the way it’s documented, designed and built at the start will affect your enjoyment of the addition and your home’s resale value as well. That’s why it’s so important to work with a reputable home addition contractor who will get things right for you, right from the start. Let’s take a look at what getting home additions right means.
- Get permits and build to code. Even if you’re just adding on one room, addition contractors must be scrupulous about pulling the proper codes for everything from construction to electrical and plumbing. If the zoning in a neighborhood does not permit certain things – like adding a full second kitchen to the property or keeping a multi-story addition to a certain height, you want your contractor to abide by the zoning and build to code. If you don’t do this, you can run into problems with resale. Plus, you could even find yourself having to tear down your brand new addition if neighbors complain or county inspectors find your home addition contractor failed to pull the right permits or keep to code.
- Pay attention to the integrity of both design and construction. Home addition contractors often advise clients that the way they want an addition to function may be so unique to their family or tastes that it may become an issue if they ever want to sell the home. It’s best for resale and, usually, for day-to-living in the home, if a room addition is smoothly integrated with the look and flow of the home’s other spaces. Also, you want to work with a room addition contractor who pays attention to construction details. A few years from now, you don’t want to be looking at a cracked foundation or cracks in the interior walls that signal unstable construction. You want the home addition to be well-planned and well-constructed so you’re not dealing with constant repairs – or a home inspection that finds deal-breaker problems with the addition.
- Integrate the room addition for curb appeal. It’s very important that your addition look like the rest of your house. It will definitely affect resale if you overpower a one-level home by adding an out-of-scale multi-story addition to one side. Homes also sit on the market because someone has simply “stuck” a small, plain one-room addition onto an existing home without making any effort to integrate the rooflines, design elements, or to exterior materials that don’t match or even relate to the existing home’s exterior.
When home addition contractors ask what type of home addition you’d like to build, they don’t expect you to say, “A shed two-dormer pop top.” Instead, what they are really asking about is the functionality you want your new home addition to provide.
For example, the general contractor might want to know whether you really want to expand your entire kitchen, or whether you actually just need to add space for a mudroom or a sunny breakfast nook. Do you want to build an all-new great room, or just loosen up the space of an existing family room? Do you just want to turn a carport into a garage, or also turn the space over the new garage into a separate wing for teenagers, guests or in-laws?
The more you can tell your remodeling contractor about what you want the home addition to do, the better job the contractor can do in mapping out initial ideas that will meet your needs. For instance, if tell the contractor that you want to add two bedrooms and a bath to your house, he can then use his expertise to explore many different ways to give you this functionality and, from there, to narrow down to find the best type of home addition for you.
Depending on the space issues you want to address, second-story home additions – including attic conversions and “pop-tops” – can be very good solutions since they don’t require building a new foundation, which can otherwise take a good portion of the home remodeling budget. But if you want larger rooms than are possible with the configuration of conversion of pop-top that can be added to your home, or if you want more flexibility in the windows and floor plan, building a full second-story addition might be a better choice.
There are also cases where “while you’re at it” thinking can reward you with major extra living space without adding major extra cost. For example, if you have a two-story home and you’re thinking of doing a first-floor kitchen/family room addition, “while you’re at it” you might want to build the addition as a two-story structure and add a spacious new master suite over the newly expanded kitchen.
Today’s most experienced home addition contractors will tell you that the best home additions come from taking the time to get a clear focus on what kinds of spaces you’d like to add to your home, as well as the “feel” you’d like them to have in terms of windows, openness, and architectural interest. Then, from small bump-outs, porches, sunrooms, two-story additions or entire wings, the contractor can see that you get a design rewards you with the most functional and the most beautiful home addition for your needs, your lot, your existing home, and your budget.
All of us wish our parents to be pleased. As they age, a large percentage of senior citizens would like to live at home independently and for as long as possible, and primarily, want to avoid being institutionalized. One great way to do this would be to put in a “grandparent” suite home addition. This offers your parent or parents the flexibility they wish to have, the feelings of comfort and stability they get from being near to family members, and allows them to avoid moving to an assisted-living institution. One more excellent bonus of this living arrangement is that it enables the grandparents to play a more active role in the life of the family than they would be able to if they lived even farther away.
In-law suite home additions are often made up of a bedroom and bath, but could be custom-built to meet your family needs. Some homeowners elect to include a sitting area, modest kitchen area, or a private entry too. Although they are not as separate as a full apartment, suites supply privacy and enough room for the occupants to feel at home. Grandparent suites are also sometimes built with enhanced access for seniors and features including grab bars, walk-in bathtubs, and easy-to-reach storage space. They normally are positioned on the ground floor so that grandparents don’t need to walk up so many steps. If the suite has to be on the second floor, homeowners sometimes have a home elevator or stair-lift hooked up.
If you work with a trustworthy home addition remodeling contractor, adding a grandparent suite is frequently less costly than the cost of an assisted living center or a nursing home (which generally cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, every single year), and has a host of benefits for the whole family. In the past, it was often assumed that multiple generations would live in one household, and why not? Growing up with your grandparents nearby is an enriching experience for any child, and you will definitely value watching your children establish a new and significant relationship in their lives.
Home addition contractors talk with many clients who ask them what type of addition will give them the biggest payback. To provide the answer, they need to ask a question of their own: “What type of payback do you mean – resale or lifestyle?”
If you’re thinking in terms of resale value, sources in the home addition contractor business say some types of home additions do seem to recoup more of the initial investment than others. For example, Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost v. Value Report documents that – on average – a two-story addition seems to offer the biggest payback at resale. Master suite additions and family room additions are virtually tied in second place, followed by bathroom additions and then sun room additions.
Remember, however, that local housing prices and the demographics are the most important factors in determining which type of addition will make the most sense purely in terms of resale. In certain areas, for example, home addition contractors see variation literally neighborhood to neighborhood. In pockets of the community popular with older couples who are downsizing, a master suite addition might bring a higher resale ROI than a two-story addition. The sooner you may be putting your home on the market, the more weight you’ll want to give to the resale value of your addition.
Still, how many of us are thinking purely about resale when we consider a home addition? Contractors get calls mostly for other reasons, such as a growing family needing more living space, bedrooms or bathrooms.
If you’re thinking in terms of lifestyle value, the home addition that will give you the greatest ROI is the one that solves the real issues triggering your need for more space. For example, two families might say they need more space. But for one family, the need is actually for more private space, while the other family needs more space for being together and entertaining. So, for one family the highest-ROI solution that a home addition contractor can recommend is a master suite, while the highest-ROI addition for the other home is a spacious new family room.
Both resale and lifestyle should be considered when planning a home addition. Contractors will tell you, however, that the best ROI comes from an addition that is built to meet today’s needs while keeping your home attractive to the likeliest type of family to buy your home down the road.
Instead of putting their homes on the marketing, many homeowners are staying put. But staying put doesn’t mean homeowners want to stay stuck with a home that’s too small. This is why home additions are “in” and contractors are being asked to come up with fresh new ways not only to create new space, but to use the addition to enhance the entire home’s style and livability.
With that in mind, here are a few “ins and outs” to consider if you’re planning a home addition:
OUT: Additions with built-in desks and lots of bookcases.
IN: Flexible “nooks” for laptops, iPads and flatscreens.
Today’s technology takes up less space! Plus, we’re wireless so we don’t need a fixed “station” to do our work, surf the Web, listen to music or look up recipes. As a result, the kinds of desks and built-in bookcases that were priorities in home and kitchen additions just a few years ago aren’t at the top of the list today. Instead, the trend is toward creating flexible spaces. In the kitchen for instance, the contractor might design in space for a flatscreen monitor cooks can pull up recipes from the computer and have them displayed right at eye level as they cook.
OUT: Kitchen additions with heavy wall cabinetry.
IN: Windows … and big storage closets.
The trend is to make kitchen additions look less “storage heavy” and more like the other living spaces of the home, with plenty of wall space for artwork. But when you take away cabinets, you take away storage. So, an important feature in kitchen additions is to have contractors find space elsewhere in the layout to include really large closets or even storage rooms that can handle everything from kitchenware “overflow” to warehouse-sized packages of household staples.
OUT: Additions with fewer walls.
IN: Open floor plans and natural light.
Homeowners today want to bring the outdoors in! That’s why many home additions are going light on walls in favor of more windows. Even bathroom additions are including larger windows. Interior walls are coming out in favor of a more seamless integration of kitchen and living spaces. Where walls are needed, contractors might use glass to keep natural light flowing throughout the addition