I want to add a room onto my house… should I, or is there another option?
- This house is too small, we need more room.
- It just feels cramped in here.
- We’re pregnant!
- The kids need a playroom and creative space.
- Mom’s getting old, and needs to move in with us.
- I’m ready for an upgrade, and a new master suite sure sounds great!
Any of these sound familiar? There are many reasons to consider adding more space onto your house. Sometimes the motive is practical, but maybe you just want your home to feel more spacious. The real question is: Does what I’m thinking about doing actually make sense?
So, the first question you should ask yourself is: Do I really need this… and what does need mean? For purposes of this discussion, let’s define need this way: Something that will allow my life to operate in a way that not only promotes my wellbeing (and those around me), but eliminates a source of aggravation in my (our) lives. There’s a pebble in my shoe, and this is what it will take to get rid of it. That would constitute need – a good rationale for saying yes, and a persuasive reason to go ahead.
But what if you don’t really so much need to add on? What if it’s more like you just feel it’s time for the upgrade you’ve wanted for a while, and you think you might be able to afford it? This is a legitimate reason for adding on as well -perhaps not as compelling as needing the room, but understandable nonetheless.
Now… how to decide, and how to proceed?
First, consider moving to a bigger house. It’s a big step, which most likely means a new neighborhood, new schools, new neighbors (sometimes that ain’t so bad…), and new living space. These can be daunting, especially when you really like where you are. That’s our first criteria for adding on: Do you love your house and neighborhood? Do you really want to stay where you are? If so, then you’ve passed the first test… consider adding on.
Second, not to get too personal, but how are your finances? Developing a budget that’s not going to get you into hot water if your finances take a downturn is critical to your decision. And it’s best to plan on spending more money than your best guess indicates as well – don’t attempt such a project on a shoestring (unless you’re a helluva carpenter yourself… and even then it’s a dicey proposition!) If your finances are sound, and you can commit enough money for the entire project (via a loan or savings), then you’ve cleared the second hurdle.
And third (at least for now), how feasible is it to do what you want to do? Some older houses don’t really lend themselves to adding on. Maybe the lot is too small. Or perhaps the structure would take too much remedial work to pass building codes… or the electrical, plumbing or other systems would cost too much to upgrade. And while the character and condition of the existing building are surely key considerations, how it fits into the neighborhood is important as well – don’t do anything that will negatively affect the resale value of your home – it’s likely one of your most valuable assets. Resist the urge to act capriciously, even if you can afford to.
You’ll most probably need professional advice, especially on the third recommendation, because the potential pitfalls are copious, and deep. And while I’ll shamelessly promote my company as being the first call to make, just make sure you don’t go too far down one road or the other without good objective counsel.
Thanks for stopping by, and happy building!