Time for an Addition to the Family?


No, not a baby—although that may be one reason you might want a home addition. We’re talking, of course, about adding on to your house – a major remodeling job and one that needs to be carefully thought out and executed with design/build professionals. Why might you want to add on to your current home?

  • You’ve outgrown it and love the neighborhood: you may have more children or older children who need their own room. Young adults may “boomerang” back home. Or you may have parents moving in with you.
  • The style and features are very outdated and need a major refresh.
  • Your business has moved into or expanded in your home and you need a dedicated office or workspace. Or maybe a hobby has taken over your dining room.
  • You plan on “aging in place,” that is, living independently in your own home as long as you can, but would like a master suite on the first floor featuring universal design.
  • You’re considering selling farther down the line and want to get the most resale value from the real estate.

Picture an old New England farmhouse with its add-ons from over the decades or centuries – connecting to the kitchen to the barn work sheds and other shelters, maybe with a wrap-around porch. Home additions were very common and functional in historic times and they still make sense for a lot of people.

Do the bump!

kitchen-expansionThe most conservative way to get a little more room is to “bump out” a window or side of a room. Sometimes called a micro or mini addition, the new space is cantilevered out and supported as a bay window would be from underneath. No new foundation or slab is necessary. Besides costing much less than a typical addition, because you are not changing the actual footprint or adding more foundation, you don’t have to worry about zoning, setbacks, etc.

Things are looking up!

Certain styles of architecture lend themselves to building up. Capes, for example, can usually be expanded by building out the dormer and eaves, changing the roofline somewhat but making the most of every space. Again, you don’t have to worry about adding on a foundation, but supporting a new level or enlarged level and changing the roofline are major engineering considerations. Other things to think about are plumbing and electrical wiring. If you expand or add bedrooms or make a third-floor playroom, you may want to add a bathroom. Can you “stack” it on top of the second-floor bathroom? Raising the roof may require another staircase, in which instance you’ll need to allow for at least 80 to 120 square feet in the plans.

Zoning and legal issues

Additions to the back (kitchen, great room, porch or mudroom), front (porch or entryway) or sides of the house (master suite or office) need their own slab and foundation for support and keep them level to the rest of the house. An addition is a major investment, so you can’t afford to make a mistake. This is not the time to call on that brother-in-law from out of town. You need to work with professionals in construction, building and design who know the lay of the land—and local zoning laws. Considerations include:

  • Regulations regarding setback from property lines
  • Amount of “impermeable” (that is, solid) surface allowed, from pavement to house footprint/slab
  • Height restrictions and number of levels allowed
  • Any wetland areas to be aware of
  • Specific community, association or cooperative rules and regulations.

Reframe the view. From the beginning of a project through completion, the design is crucial. Think of a neighbor’s point of view and curb appeal in terms of resale. Appearance is paramount. An addition can’t just look tacked on. It should integrate seamlessly into the original architecture—or be a complementary annex. Whether more bedrooms, a great room for entertaining, master or in-law suite, gourmet kitchen, or all-season porch, the professionals at 3W Design can design, engineer and build any size addition to enhance your dream home.

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