Thinking About a Housing Addition

This past Friday morning, we met with a contractor to discuss adding on to our house. We’re not planning on going crazy, but there are some limitations with our current floor plan that we’d like to remedy. For one thing, the table in our dinette can barely hold our family of six, and the boys are growing fast. Unfortunately, there’s no room for a larger table. Similarly, we do a ton of laundry (boys get dirty fast, after all), yet we have a very small laundry room. We’d also like to have a dedicated pantry (we currently use wall shelving in the garage for this), and we’d like to add a “powder room” (toilet + sink) in an accessible part of the house. As it stands, you need to pass through “private” space to get to the existing bathrooms. So…

We’re looking to add on off the back, thereby expanding the dinette, creating a new and larger laundry room, and creating a new closet for two of our boys (we have them paired up two per room). Their old closet will then be converted into a pantry (closed up on their side, opened up on the dinette side) and, finally, we’ll convert the old laundry room into a powder room. That’s the current plan, anyway. As currently drawn up, it’ll add just over 300 sq. ft. to the house. We still don’t have any idea how much this will cost, however, which is part of the reason we met with the contractor to get the ball rolling.

And before anyone asks… Yes, we can get by without these changes. They definitely fall into the category of “want” vs. “need.” But what’s the point of working hard and saving money if you never spend it on things that you want? We also have one of the least expensive/smallest homes on the street (even though it’s not particularly small), such that we don’t really have to worry about “over-improving.”

22 Responses to “Thinking About a Housing Addition”

  1. Anonymous

    Don’t ever minimize the added “value” that your family will get during the time you live in the home. It’s hard to put a dollar figure on what that is worth. Sometimes you need to look past the raw dollars and cents and view the situation as dollars and “sense”. 🙂

  2. wv112: An addition of this nature will barely impact our insurance rates. The house will be largely and worth more, so the rates will go up, but this is a relatively small proportional change, so they won’t go up much.

    And before anyone else mentions it, yes, our electric bill will go up marginally, as well. After all, we’ve have a larger space to heat and cool.

  3. Anonymous

    I think it’s a great use of your hard earned and saved cash as well. Whereas you might have been able to come out ahead slightly if you had tried to buy a home with more space, what you might have lost is the location which can be very, very important.

    Good luck with it, I don’t know if you’re at all handy, or if you have the time, but you might see if the contractor will work with you at all on sweat equity. The more work you could do yourself, the less the financial cost.

  4. Debbie: Yes, this is a good point that people keep in mind. The building permits will trigger a re-assessment, which will result in higher property taxes. However, the house will also be worth more, so the increased taxes are justified.

  5. FMF: That’s about what we’re expecting, except the laundry will likely cost more per sq ft due to cabinetry, plumbing, and countertops. Also, we will be remodeling the old laundry room into a bathroom which will add to the cost

    Still, I’m expecting the costs (even with overruns) to be at or below the prevailing price per sq ft in our area. And even if it’s not, I’m willing to buy a certain amount of comfort/convenience.

  6. Anonymous

    The rule of thumb in our area for NEW construction is $100 per square foot. Not sure this holds true for additions and in your area, but if so, 300 sq. ft. would cost you $30,000.

  7. Anonymous

    When it comes to adding value to your home, I don’t think it falls into the traditional need vs. want equation. You are adding value your equity source and you are creating a more enjoyable place to live.


  8. Anonymous

    How much of a hassle will this addition be for your family? There is cost impact, but I must imagine that it is very noisy and cumbersome for the family while this renovation is going on right?

  9. @Sam: (1) Not an issue, (2) definitely, (3) good suggestion.

    @CFO: I’m sure it won’t be painless. But we survived having our previous house built, so I’m sure we can survive remodeling.

  10. Anonymous

    I think it sounds like a great use of money, especially since I know you’ll do everything you can to minimize wasteful expenses. That said, I don’t anyone who’s had a painless remodel so … good luck! I hope you’re the first!

  11. Anonymous

    A couple of things to consider based on our research.
    (1) If you are adding on or updating and older home, find out how much work you can do before your town, city, county, etc. requires you to bring the home up to current code. Living in a historic area this is a real issue for folks who think they are doing a small renovation and then are required to update the plumbing, electric, windows, doors, stairways, etc.
    (2) This is a regular rule of thumb for construction, regardless of the contract or quote or how fabulous the contractor is, add 20-30% to the final quote and that will get you much closer to the actual cost.
    (3) If you are moving walls or playing with the floor plan (and even if your not) working with an architect can really save you money in the long run. A lot of architects have moved to an hourly rate and they can really help you plan properly and save money because the construction work is done based on a plan.

  12. Anonymous

    I was about to ask the same thing. Is it really cheaper to do the add on than just having bought a house with more space in the first place? One bonus to buying is that you don’t have to live there while undergoing renovations.

    Unless you bought a total fixer upper. Is it always cheaper to renovate versus buying renovated? Out here it’s cheaper to buy already fixed because renovations to 1800s homes are too expensive and you never recoup the costs. So you either live with the crappy layout or buy something someone else renovated and lived in.

    Mind you that living in something you love is worth it’s weight in gold.

  13. Anonymous

    I’ll come do the work… Of course, it will take me 2 and a half years…

    Seriously though, we had a sun-room added to the back of our home, converting an old patio into a very nice, warm, inviting space. It makes the house “feel” much bigger. Hire the right person for the work and you’ll be glad you made the improvements..

  14. These limitations always existed, and the possibility of adding on has been in the back of our minds since we bought.

    So why this house? Well, we were looking for some specific things with regard to lot, location, etc. We really like the house itself, and it’s situated on a great lot in a perfect location. While we could’ve bought more house when we moved, we’d be giving up other things that can’t be remedied by remodeling.

    Moreover, it’s likely that we’ll be able to add on for less per square foot than homes in our neighborhood sell for (though the jury is still out on this).

  15. Anonymous

    I have to disagree. Generally it’s cheaper to buy the house you want rather than to add on to what you’ve got. I don’t mean to criticize, but all of these conditions were in place when you bought the house, right? Were you thinking that you could just live around them or did you just not realize how problematic they were going to be at the time?

    Obviously the most important rule in real estate is location (so often it’s usually the first 3 rules…), so my advice would be to make sure that you get the best bang for the buck, even if that means that you have to spend a little more money than you want or than is required.

  16. Well, we just bought this house a bit over a year ago, so we have no interest in moving even if it did make better financial sense. 🙂

    Besides, we like our location, we like our lot, and we like our house (though it could be improved in the ways noted above).

  17. Anonymous

    It’s surprising how much an addition adds to the sale value of your house, even in a modest neighborhood. In ours, at the height of the Bubble one neighbor got $525,000 for a house where the garage had been converted to a family room with an enclosed interior space for the washer & dryer–the rest of us thought we’d hit paydirt with valuations around 300 grand.

    O’course, no one’s getting money like that for houses around here now. But the drop in “value” (such as it was!) is proportionate–house values run on a square-foot basis, so the places with additions are still worth a lot more than houses with the original floor plans. In addition to building a lot more comfort for your family over the next few years, you’ll also eventually see a return on your investment.

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