As families mature the definition of a “dream home” changes. Fortunately, you don’t always have to move to live the dream. A home addition offers a solution to a wide variety of challenges. There are as many renovation options as there are architectural styles in Madison WI – and that’s a lot.
When your family loves its community, the local schools and neighbors, an addition to your home can breathe new life into existing space. The decision to explore a new addition can be based on many factors, including:
- A family changes – a growing family are an emptying nest.
- Updating for efficiency or style.
- Adding function – home offices, laundry rooms, etc.
Of course, these goals can be achieved with individual room adjustments within an existing footprint, but an addition expands not only space but the ability to create an expanded lifestyle. Viewing your existing space through the eye of a skilled remodeling contractor and designer provides a new perspective. You see what is there. They see what is possible.
Home Addition Decisions
Once you come to the conclusion that your house needs “fixing,” you have three basic decisions to make:
- “Do I expand within the existing structure?” If your home needs an update you can create exceptional spaces by moving walls and improving traffic patterns.
- “Can I add space by building “out” from the existing footprint?” Also known as a “bump out” a new room, additional garage space or a new wing adds value.
- “Can I get what I want by “building up?” If you have a ranch-style home adding a second story is an attractive option.
Before you go too deep into the planning investigate the local and regional zoning restrictions and building codes. Throughout Dane County, including Madison, there are very specific laws governing what can be built and where. Each municipality has its own, too. Before you get hopes too high, be sure recreating your dream home is possible.
Once you’ve made the decision to change your home one way or another, it’s a good time to work with a professional. Veteran contractors keep up with local and regional regulations and they will check on codes and regulations regarding:
- Minimum/Maximum setback from the street
- Minimum space allowed between any structure and the lot line
- Any concerns for expanding near a wetland
- Height restrictions
Build Up Or Out
Most people separate the idea of changing space within the house from building on something new. Even though you’re adding a new bathroom or expanding the kitchen, working inside is usually considered “just remodeling.” With that in mind, take a closer look at the two real addition options: Building out and building up. Both offer exceptional value. Both have restrictions.
The “bump out” – adding on
If your home is one of the many two-story, multilevel or craftsman style homes in the region, expanding outward is the only option. Bumping out the walls to gain space allows adding family rooms, laundry and mud rooms, home offices, bedrooms and spa-like master bathroom suites. The opportunity for expanded living space is amazing.
While building out requires adding to the home’s footprint it doesn’t always need additional foundation work. When it does, the additional foundation doesn’t have to include a full basement. Consider the benefits of a bump out:
- Easier to blend with existing architecture.
- Makes an addition possible for multi-level homes.
- An excellent element in a modern, open concept home.
- Less invasive – a lot of the work is done before opening up the existing walls and disrupting the existing space.
- Even a small project has immediate impact – visually and physically.
A planned outward addition isn’t without drawbacks, including:
- Giving up yard space – reducing your outdoor living area.
- Zoning may restrict what you can do – variances are sometimes possible, but never count on it.
Expanding Upward Has Great Potential
Deciding to add a second story to your home is a big step. It requires finesse and skill to blend an addition with existing structures to make it look like it belongs. There are a lot of elements – window styles, roof lines, shingles the ability of the structure to take on the added weight. It is a long list. Most ranch-style houses, and some two-story designs, are capable of expanding upward. When they can, the benefits include:
- Gaining a lot of usable space without sacrificing any yard.
- No concerns for setbacks or encroaching on lot lines.
- An entirely new look and enhanced curb appeal.
- Expanded square footage means higher resale value.
There are drawbacks to account for:
- Some municipalities have height restrictions in residential areas. Be sure you’ll comply before committing too much.
- In older neighborhoods overhead wires may have to be rerouted.
- The process is intrusive – the whole house becomes a construction site. Existing walls and ceilings must be altered while HVAC, wiring and plumbing work is done. Adding a second floor is almost like building a new house – it takes a long commitment.
- The first floor changes, too – you’ll have to add a stairway somewhere and that means taking space from existing rooms.
Plan, Plan And Plan
It should be obvious that a home addition is a challenge unlike anything you’ve considered before. Every professional designer and contractor emphasizes one particular critical element: Planning. Additionally, they outline critical phases:
- Setting goals – ask yourself a list of questions before going too far, including:
- What do I want when it’s all finished?
- What is realistic?
- What can I afford to spend?
- Am I willing to make a long-term commitment to a disrupted life?
- Does my Plan A really make sense?
- Do I have Plan B?
- Set a realistic budget – After outlining your goals you have to determine how to pay for the plan. Begin with what you can really afford. With that number in mind, work with a professional to determine what each feature on your wish list costs. Professionals include items most homeowners don’t include like permit and inspection fees, design and engineering fees, etc.
One question you should ask again and again is: What if? Building an addition comes with many options and many obstacles. Explore all the possibilities.
There’s an old saying: Don’t sweat the small stuff. When it comes to remodeling and house additions, it is vital to sweat the small stuff. Overlooked, small stuff grows and grows. No detail is too small to overlook.
Choose The Right Remodeling Contractor
Committing to an addition to your home is likely to be the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. And, unlike new paint, landscaping or flooring, it cannot be undone. It pays to carefully consider every aspect from every angle.
If you’re willing to take on a long-term commitment to construction noise, drywall dust and traffic jams outside your door additions pay off, too. Realtors and remodeling pros agree that a high-quality second story addition will recoup its costs when you sell.
Westring Construction LLC specializes in renovations throughout the Madison area. If you want to energize a dated older home or expand upon your existing space no project is too large. Call Westring Construction LLC at 608-441-5435 or email us to discuss how a home addition can improve your Madison WI home.