A house addition allows homeowners who love their home and neighborhood, to stay in their homes while adding needed space. Ironically we're constantly finding we need more space even though the size of our homes has grown significantly, from an average 1,000 square feet in 1950 to a typical new home in 2000, having more than 2,000 (2,200 in 2010) square feet.
Today's average home has three or more bedrooms and at least 2 and a half baths, a garage and a deck. How your home compares to the average home is not really important. What's important when deciding to put on a house addition, is understanding:
- Are there creative ways to add the living space you need, within your existing house, e.g. by adding a bedroom in the attic or finishing the basement?
- Are at least half the houses in your neighborhood larger than your current home, so that adding living space to your home won't make your house the biggest one in the area?
Get a Return on Investment for Your House Addition
If you're confident that a house addition is the best solution for your family, then it's time to take the next step and do some research to learn which house additions offer you the best return when selling your house. This isn't a easy as it sounds. You'll want to review the data compiled by Remodeling.com's Cost vs Value report which is done annually (here's the 2013 Cost vs Value report).
The most important message you'll get from reviewing the information is you don't want to overspend, as you won't get your money back. If you live in a neighborhood where homes are one-story, 1,500 square feet and sell for $200,000, it's not practical to put a two-story house addition on your home with 2,200 square feet. You won't recover your investment and it might make your home harder to sell.
Some neighborhoods have a mix of houses where it might work, like my neighborhood in Portsmouth, NH.
When we put a four-story house addition onto our 100 year old Victorian, it made sense to extend the addition to the top floor, as the cost of excavation, foundation and roof, were covered. With a narrow lot, our only option was to extend the house at the back. We followed the existing lines of the house which required a variance. That's because our house was only 9 feet from the property line where the building code now requires 10 feet.
There's magic in a house addition with multiple floors. There are sunk costs once you have the first floor of a house addition. Whether you're adding, 1 – 2 or even 4 floors, the cost for excavation, the foundation and roof, are the same. This means your cost per square foot for your house addition is lower as you add floors, because these costs are spread across more living space.
Which Are The Most Common House Additions?
If we look at the house additions included in Remodeling.com's survey, there's a short list. We'll use their list but we'll approach it from a different perspective.
- One story additions on a slab – offer the lowest return on investment (ROI). The sunroom (46.5% ROI) and garage addition (averaging 59.2% ROI) reflect the low end of the projects covered in the cost value report.
- Single story house addition over a crawlspace – offers some savings but the returns are still low for the bathroom addition (averaging 55.4% ROI), family room addition (63.3%) and the master suite addition (57.6% ROI).
- The two-story addition added 768 square feet with a family room on the first floor and a second-floor bedroom with a full bath on the second floor. It is projected to have a 65.4% return on investment.
Not included in the Cost vs Value survey is a second floor house addition, that requires roofing but leverages the existing foundation (may need structural reinforcement for added weight).