New Home vs Addition: What Can You Do with a Home Addition?
bathroom remodel

The 2021 housing market was a chaotic roller coaster of high prices and cash sales. It left many homeowners who were looking for a change wondering if buying a new home was really worth it. Some people opted for staying put, but that doesn’t mean they had to settle for a house that didn’t meet their needs. 

Adding on to your home is an alternative to buying something new and has the added benefit of customization. You can tailor additions specifically to your design preferences so it integrates seamlessly with your existing space while also gaining the space your family needs to be comfortable. 

As with any home renovation project, there are lots of things to consider when pursuing a home addition. This article will talk about the different opportunities you have when adding on to your house, the benefits of additions versus buying new or resale, and a few helpful reminders about local and neighborhood rules that might guide your project.

Opportunities for Improvement

Woman choosing materials for a new home renovation of a new home addition

Adding on to your home gives you the opportunity to improve specific spaces, add new features or square footage, or simply create a house that better suits your needs. During the process, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between building out and building up, how natural light can help your home, and how to efficiently utilize roof space.

Building Out or Building Up?

Building out is usually thought of as adding something new to the existing footprint of your home. This comes with challenges of available space and zoning restrictions. Another way to expand the footprint of your home is to build down. By that, we mean increasing the use of spaces under your house, such as basements or crawl spaces. Many people find once they increase the size of their basement, it’s big enough to add another bedroom or living space.

Building up means you’ll add livable space above your home, typically by opening the roofline to include work in your existing attic. Some people opt to move appliances into finished top-floor spaces to free up living space downstairs. Others might finish them as additional bedrooms or living areas. Contractors can even help you design better access to the space by creating a permanent stairwell that integrates with your existing space.

Natural Light

An easy way to make your home feel bigger is by adding more natural light. Part of an addition could include creating a wall of windows to let in the sun, which in turn warms your home. If you’re insulated properly and have energy efficient windows, this could help your heating and cooling values too. To accent the large windows, it’s often wise to include a dark wall on the opposite side of your home. This helps to trap the heat during cold months and warm your home naturally.

Roof Space

It’s not uncommon for indoor and outdoor areas to get shuffled around during a home construction project. Many people think that adding on to their home means they’d have to lose some of their favorite outside space. The roof can be a great solution to this dilemma.

For example, let’s say you have a deck or back patio you enjoy using, but it’s right in the spot where you’d like to add onto your home. Instead of sacrificing that space, you can simply move it up. Things like rooftop decks, elevated decks, and concrete rooftops are all options for creating a hang out space on top of your home. It frees up room on the ground to build something new without taking away an enjoyable outdoor area.

Benefits of an Addition

When you’re weighing the options of a new home vs. addition, there are a lot of differences to consider. A new home might be in a better neighborhood or closer to family. But if you don’t have enough space in your home or want to update the design, a renovation or addition might be a better path.

There are lots of benefits to adding on to your home instead of buying new, such as:

  • Better use of space — It might not be that your home doesn’t have enough space, just that you aren’t using it all effectively. Additions give you the opportunity to capitalize on unfinished or unused areas of your home to create more living space for your family.
  • A starting point for improved design — Maybe your home was built several decades ago and the design just hasn’t kept up with modern tastes. When you add on to your home, it sets the stage for updating your finishes throughout your home. You can create a more modern feel and a look that better matches new homes in your area .
  • Opportunity to renovate — Most people think they have to buy a new house if they want something completely different, but they’d be surprised how much difference a renovation or addition can make. Additions provide an opportunity to not only update finishes like cabinetry and trim, but to also rearrange and repurpose the rooms which can make the home look entirely different from its original design.
  • New building materials — Older houses were built with materials of the time, but a lot has changed in the last 40-60 years. Additions can use all modern materials, which are often more energy efficient, lighter, and more durable. This means your addition is also an upgrade and can actually save you money and improve the lifespan of your home. 
  • Quality of life — Moving is an incredibly stressful process that often involves uprooting the parts of your life you have grown to love. Your neighborhood and neighbors, the sun in the windows, and maybe even the wildlife. When you decide to stay and add on to your home, not only do you get to keep all the stuff you love , but you also get to customize things to better  meet your  needs. This improvement in the quality of your home life will certainly bring you peace of mind.

Sometimes buying a new home is the clear cut answer, but unless you need a new location, additions are likely to meet your needs without the stress of selling your home.

Things to Keep in Mind

Installing flooring into home addition

Working on a big home project can get complicated fast. There’s a lot of planning and people  involved. It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed throughout the process so here are some items you will need to keep in mind when planning your home addition.


Do a quick Internet search and you’re likely to see projects priced by the square foot, by geographic area, by room type and even by national average based on arbitrary reporting. On paper, it’ll look like a great rate, but it’s usually a far cry from the actual cost of the project. Price per square foot breaks down the cost of materials for the build, but it often doesn’t include current labor pricing, finishes, making the space liveable during the project, involvement of licensed general contractors or current materials costs. Even as a starting point these numbers are notoriously inaccurate. And don’t get me started on the numbers you see on the television…

If your construction team has to tear down something to rebuild something new in its place, the per square foot cost will be greater than the cost of a refresh or even an addition. Still want to be able to use your kitchen during the remodel? Well moving appliances back and forth during the project takes time and increases cost.Be sure to talk to your contractor about where your money is going and why. An excellent estimate will not only be accurate by the numbers, it will be realistic based on your project goals.

Rules and Regulations

All residential construction projects are subject to zoning laws, residential building code requirements, and other roles as enforced by the municipality in which you live. Your township can provide to you all the applicable codes for your project so you know what to expect before getting started.  For example, did you know that most townships require a storm water drainage plan as part of your home addition application? 

In addition to township guidelines, Homeowner’s Associations often have rules that dictate what you can do, when you can do it, and what the finished look must be. Exterior projects are under more scrutiny because your neighbors have to look at what you build. If it doesn’t jive with the vibe they’re going for you may find your plans getting denied. 

Don’t forget historical preservation! If you live in a historic area as defined by your local or state authority you may be held to an entirely separate set of guidelines, rules, and expectations of what your home must look like and how your project must proceed. Be sure to share with any corrector that your home is in a historic area and look up what you need to know to stay in compliance. 

Personal space vs. public space 

Ensuring your addition matches your home is an important part of the process, and one that can take up significant time and budget. Would you rather update the finishes in the house or try to retain some of the spirit of the original design? If you choose to change it up, where should you stop and what design clash is acceptable to you? As far as interior design, people can get away with some mismatched colors and finishes, crazy custom trim and wild epoxy countertops no problem knowing that the space is just for them. However the exterior of your home creates your curb appeal and almost anyone can see when something doesn’t fit. Hire a contractor who won’t leave your house with a personality disorder where the changes stand out like a sore thumb. . 

If you’re updating a much older house, you’ll have to decide if you want to match the existing materials or add something new altogether. Keep in mind that older houses were made with materials from that year, which might not be available or may no longer be relevant. Your contractor will do their best to match them, but it might not be perfect so it’s a conversation you have to have ahead of time. 

Add Some Peace of Mind

Additions are a great way to make adjustments to your home so it better suits your needs. Whether that’s adding a bedroom, expanding a basement, or installing a rooftop deck, adding on to your home can give you the peace of mind that comes with plentiful and more functional space.

We’d love to be your partner through the construction process. Book a consultation today to see how we can help you maximize your space and create the home you’ve been dreaming of (without making enemies along the way).

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