Are you planning a home addition and wondering if it would be worth it?
Perhaps you’re tired of tripping over each other in your cramped house. Your kids are begging for their own rooms. Or maybe you want to invite your aging parents to move in with you.
Whatever the reason, you’re considering the possibilities of a home addition. Given that a home addition may be the most expensive home improvement project you’ll ever take on, it’s understandable if you’re wondering if adding on to your house would be worth the cost. And what if you’re not happy with the results? You can’t easily do it over, as you could if all you’d done is slap a coat of paint on the walls.
Pros and Cons of a Home Addition
The best way to start your decision-making process about a home addition is to consider the pros and cons. By looking at both sides, you’ll be better able to decide if you want to proceed or not.
Pros of a Home Addition
1. A Home Addition is Your Creation
Unlike a simple renovation, adding on to your home allows you to create the space. You’re not just altering someone else’s work. So you’ll be able to put your own personality and desires into building the space you want.
2. There’s No Better Way to Add Space
Nearly everyone who builds a home addition is looking for more space. Sure, it is true that turning a porch or patio into a sunroom can give you more room. But not all buyers will consider it to be quality space.
In contrast, a home addition will add actual square footage to your house and be quality living space you can enjoy, and that potential buyers will value.
An addition can also be the perfect way to add recreational areas to your home. Whether it’s a home gym or theater, a craft room or other specialized space you’re looking for, an addition could be the way you get it.
3. Enhance the layout of your house
Adding on to your home might enable you to enhance or refresh the layout of your house. Taking out a wall, for example, can give you that open plan you’ve wanted while making the flow more efficient.
4. Avoid Moving
Moving, as we all know, isn’t easy, can be expensive, and creates a lot of upheaval. And often moving means leaving a neighborhood that your family loves.
5. Increase the Value of Your Property
A well-planned home addition can enhance the curb appeal of your house, give it a fresh look and make it more functional. The additional square footage will generally mean you’ll be able to set a higher asking price.
While a higher resale price is not guaranteed, the favorable market in South Florida makes it more likely that you will get a great return on your investment. As more people relocate to the area, housing values continue to climb. Over time, the appreciation on your house could exceed what you paid for your addition.
Cons of a Home Addition
Now that we’ve looked at the plus side, let’s consider some of the drawbacks of home additions.
1. A Higher Resale Price is Not Guaranteed
While adding square footage to your house by constructing an additional room or bathroom generally means you’ll be able sell for more money, this isn’t always the case. Changes in the housing market or economy could affect what buyers are willing to pay. If you over-improve your house beyond what is usual in your neighborhood, you might not get as high a return on the money you invested in your addition. If return on investment is important to you, consult a real estate agent before finalizing your plans. They could be able to tell you what features are getting the best return in your area.
2. Increased Expenses
After your home addition is complete, you’ll have more house to clean, more space to heat and cool, and higher property taxes. All these expenses can add up.
3. Loss of Yard Space
Unless your addition is built on top of your existing house, it will most likely take up some of your yard space. If you have a small lot, this could be a problem, especially if local zoning requires a certain amount of space.
4. Additions Are Stressful
There’s no way around it. Adding on to your home can be emotionally stressful. Having workers, dust and noise in your house continually for weeks or months on end can wear on you.
5. Can Be Expensive
Depending on the project, your addition could end up being more expensive than moving. Projects that expand your house horizontally are less costly than those that build up vertically over the existing structure. To give you some examples, a 300 square foot master suite addition could cost between $75,000 and $100,000. A 1000 square foot addition that enlarges the kitchen and living room on the first floor and the master suite on the second floor could easily be in the $300,000 range.
To Add on or Not to Add on?
As with most big decisions, many factors come into play when deliberating if a home addition is right for you. The most important criterion for you to consider is your why for wanting a home addition.
Being clear on why will help you minimize the downside and maximize the benefits of your project. Ask yourself the following questions:
● What is my goal for the additional space? How do I intend to use it?
● What exactly do I not like about the current space?
This is important because the answers will drive the planning of your project. So consider carefully. Are you adding on to get more living space? To create some more accessible space? To add a little luxury?
In any case, you need a clear reason. If you don’t have one, it will be hard to develop a solid plan that you’ll stick to and to stay within budget. It will be too easy to get caught up in adding features that would be nice to have, rather than making priorities of the ones that most closely align with your vision.
And by having a definite goal in mind, you’re more likely to end up with the addition you want. If you have some extra money and think an addition would be a good way to invest it, that line of thinking doesn’t make good financial sense. Not when you are likely to recoup less than 60% of your investment when you sell.
Home Addition vs Moving Decisions
Once you know your why, then it’s time to think through if adding on is the right decision. A lot depends on your circumstances, such as in the following examples.
1. You Have No Plans to Move
Consider how long you plan on staying in your current house. If you don’t have any plans to move in the next five to ten years, then a home addition might be the right choice. However, if you think you might be moving in the next few years, you’ll probably be better off saving your money so you can buy a bigger house when you do move.
2. You Love Your Neighborhood
If you love your neighborhood, then an addition may be the better choice. There’s no guarantee your new neighborhood will be as good as the one you live in now. Unless, of course, the perfect house happens to go up for sale just down the street.
3. Your Home has Unique Feature that You Love
If your home already has unique features, such as built in bookshelves in the family room or a spa tub in the master suite, or other features you don’t want to live without, then an addition will make sense. These kinds of features might be hard to find in another house.
4. You Are Adding on to Accommodate Your Parents
In this case, an addition might be the best choice. You’ll be able to include your parents in the planning process. Otherwise, you might end up taking them all over to look at houses, which could get complicated.
5. There’s Big Gap Between the House You Want and the House You Have
The bigger the gap between your existing house and what you have in mind, the more reason you have to sell. The simple reason is that the bigger your addition, the more likely you’ll end up with the most expensive house in the neighborhood. That will make it harder to sell and you’ll get a lower return on your investment. If you’re looking to expand significantly, you’ll be better off buying a bigger house.
Unless, of course, you have one of the smaller houses in the neighborhood. Then your improvements will bring you more into line with the others and add significant value.
One way to think this through is to assess how much you could sell your house for as it is. Add on to that what your proposed addition would cost. Then use that figure to see what you could buy with that amount of money. Having that information might make the decision easier.
6. You Have Space that Can Be Converted
If you have a sunroom, porch or garage that can be converted into the space you want, this might be the simplest way to achieve your goal. So if you’re willing to give you that sunroom or garage to achieve your goal, a conversion might be the solution.
7. Local Zoning Gets in the Way
If you have your heart set on a certain addition and local zoning rules prohibit you from building it, then consider a move. You probably won’t get what you want any other way.
The Tear Down and Build New Option
If you really don’t want to leave your neighborhood, there is always the option of tearing down your house and building a new one. Many people are finding this is the best choice of all.
One reason is that it is often cheaper to start over, as you don’t have to try to work around existing structures. With new construction, you can design the house to fit your needs. It will be far easier to install new and more efficient wiring, plumbing, and HVAC systems than to upgrade in an older house. And by building new, you don’t have to worry about making the new portion blend with the old.
Many of our clients have chosen to tear down and build a new house. If this interests you for your residence or an investment property, we can help you decide if this option makes sense for you.
Getting Started with Your Home Addition
Once you’ve thought through the pros and cons of a home addition and have decided it’s right for you, the next step is to find a contractor. Choose your general contractor carefully. An experienced contractor will make your life easier throughout the process, as they’ll manage and coordinate the subcontractors and minimize the disruption to your life. They’ll also make sure the new addition blends well with the older portion of your house.
If you’re ready to plan and build your home addition, give us a call. We’ll be happy to show you how we’ve helped others expand their homes, allowing them to stay in the neighborhoods they love while accommodating the changing needs of their families.
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