Instead of Moving Homes, Renovate It!

Instead of Moving Homes, Renovate It!


Eventually, every family faces the same problem – they seemingly outgrow their home. The neighborhood offers everything they want, the children love their schools, but the house that once seemed so roomy and vast now needs to boast a few more bedrooms and an office. Forget about moving, and renovate it instead! The home you already love can become larger and provide the necessary space for everyone by building an addition.

Up, Down, or Out?

The first decision to make revolves around where to build the addition. Do you build up, down, or outward? The easiest option usually comes from building outward, but this choice requires ample open yard space and the right building code. Each city sets its own code, in line with the state’s building code, that determines the buildable area of each lot.

When a building can’t extend outward, the other options apply. Homes with an unfinished basement or attic offer the simplest solution. Simply finish out the space into bedrooms and bathrooms or the much-needed home office. Sometimes, building up or down doesn’t stay simple, though.

Perhaps the home has no basement or attic. In these cases, you’ll need to hire an architect to design a second story and building contractors to construct it. Adding a basement or ground floor under the existing house requires house lifting using house jacks that raise it off of its existing foundation. Adding a second floor requires removing the existing roof and re-designing the structure to accommodate a second floor.

None of these renovation options prove cheap, but building outward costs the least. Although you lose yard space, the added living space can more than make up for it. Consult with a building professional to find out which option best suits your home and lot.

Consult With Someone Prior

Before you renovate it, meet with a construction consultant who can help guide your decisions and process. Have them visit the home and describe your needs to them. They will need to consult the home’s architectural plans and the building code before providing a firm answer to which direction the addition should take – up, down, or outward.

Once the consultant determines how you can legally build, making the list of rooms to add remains up to you. The consultant can provide a baseline cost for a small, medium, and large addition to your home using an average per-square-foot cost. This figure provides a budgeting number, but the details of the expansion determine the final cost. For example, outfitting each bedroom with an overhead light and wall sconces costs more than only installing an overhead light.

Try New, Modern Technology

While you renovate it with an addition, also update various areas of the home, such as the garage, to offer more utility from them. For example, instead of using epoxy to harden and brighten the garage flooring, use a tougher, more resilient polyurea chip system. The polyurea option creates a look like finished kitchen flooring, but tough enough to withstand driving over it day after day. Using this style of flooring in the garage makes it easier to add utility areas, such as a laundry space, since the floors suit the new uses.

Even a single-car garage can provide added space for secondary uses besides parking a vehicle. Installing ceiling-mounted storage opens up floor space and places items out of the way of the walking areas. Shelves above shoulder height do the same. Opting for garage doors that open out or accordion style also frees space, which all adds up to space for installing a workshop area or laundry area.

Weatherproof Your Home

Consider weatherproofing the whole home while you renovate it. In the attic and under the home’s crawlspace, add insulation. To improve the function of the roofing gutters, add gutter shields. If your home lacks roof gutters, add them! Add weatherproofing materials to doorways and window frames.

Inspect all of the doors and windows, noting any that exhibit drafts. Replace the drafty doors and windows with double- or triple-pane Low-E windows to increase the home’s energy efficiency. Doing so brings the older part of the home up to par with the newly built addition.

Add in Additional Safety Measures

Safety matters, too. When you renovate it, add features to your home that increase its overall safety, such as new fire alarms, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, and smart home devices. Add a storm door to the outside of each entry door and update the garage door, an often neglected area of home security since it offers an entry point to the main home.

Work with your architect to also add safety and security features, such as an egress window, also known as an escape window. This window in any home offers an escape route in case of fire or an intruder. It provides an easy exit to the ground level that an intruder would not know about. On the second floor of a home, store an emergency ladder in the window seat of the egress window to enable those upstairs to avoid danger on the first floor and escape via an upstairs window.

Get Rid of Your Old Junk

Sometimes, when you think you need to renovate it, your home simply needs a good round of cleaning and organizing. In this process, you go through every item in the room and either keep it, put it to good use, donate it, or toss it. Donate usable, useful items, including clothing, especially coats, that no longer fit you or other family members to the Salvation Army or another charity that provides free clothing to the poor. For everything else, hire a junk removal service to haul it to the city’s landfill or town dump.

It may sound absurd, but most families have stuff stored in boxes and bins in at least one bedroom, the attic, and the garage. Once you clean out those three rooms, you re-claim the space and can reuse it. Suddenly, the home offers three usable rooms that can become the guest bedroom, home office, and new laundry room.

Pay Attention to Small Details

During the process of renovating the home, note items in the original structure that require attention or inspection, such as the fireplace and chimney. When you renovate it, your home offers new uses, but remember that all of it still needs annual inspection and repairs, such as chimney sweeping, which can uncover needed chimney repairs. Whether the bricks or stones of the chimney need new mortar to patch leaks or the flashing connecting the roof and the chimney is worn out, get these items done while your contractors build the addition.

Get Plumbing and Maintenance in Order

Also, have the plumbing and electrical work inspected on the whole home before you renovate it. Every homeowner needs to know the condition of their plumbing and electrical systems before trying to add to them. The home may need essential updates before adding to the existing plumbing or wiring.

Once you know that your home’s essential utility systems can handle upgrades, consider adding water conditioning and filtration to improve the quality of the home’s tap water. Outfit the electrical systems in the house with smart features, such as smart outlets and light switches. Add a smart thermostat to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Prepare The Finishing Touches

Speaking of HVAC systems, before you renovate it, have the home’s HVAC system inspected. You might find that it needs an update, such as a new AC install, to adequately serve the entire home in its expanded form. Consider transitioning the system to an in-ground design or a heat pump, depending on the climate of the area in which you reside.

An HVAC update does not have to mean replacing the entire system. Accommodating the home addition may only require the installation of a mini-split or two. This type of heat and air conditioning choice lets each person control the temperature in their own room, ensuite, or wing. Mini-splits also offer a much more cost-efficient option, too.

Be Prepared for Workers in Your Home, Though

When you renovate it, a full home renovation or house addition construction requires many construction professionals. Prepare yourself for the flow of extra humans through your personal space. In large enough homes, designate a bathroom for the construction crew to use, so you can separate some of the foot traffic. In small homes, rent a Porta Potty so the construction crew has ready access to a toilet.

Depending on the enormity of the renovation, it may require some demolition. Typically, the demolition crew hauls away the construction debris, but prepare yourself for it to collect in a bin or trash dumpster for a few days. The home’s curb appeal will only suffer for a few days under normal circumstances.

Renovation requires some contact with the architect, building crew, and specialty workpeople, such as masons. This contact goes beyond an initial meeting since sometimes materials you chose become unavailable, weather delays or illness puts construction behind, or something else comes up. Be prepared for texts, emails, and phone calls from those who need your decision on a new material or option, or to reschedule something.

Don’t Be Afraid of a Remodel

The mere thought of hiring the local demolition company might sound scary. You want to renovate your home, not tear it up. Sometimes, to renovate it, construction workers must remove an interior dividing wall or temporarily remove a window to enlarge the opening to fit a doorway instead.

Before jumping into renovation, talk to others who went through the same process. When you phone architects or construction companies about renovation estimates, ask them for references. These former clients of each company should have had a similar project completed, so you can ask them how the contractor performed, and about what the process entails. Talking to homeowners who also knocked out a wall and had a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home addition constructed can help you prepare yourself mentally and otherwise for the project.

While every project differs, whether you remodel or renovate, you will temporarily lose access to at least one room. If that room consists of a toilet or kitchen, you will need to create a temporary replacement. That varies in ease.

Basic kitchen changes might only take a day or so. Create a space for making quick meals in the dining room or den. Place a microwave, mini-fridge, and a toaster oven in the room. Move essential dry goods like cereal and cereal bars into the temporary cooking area, eliminating the need to enter the construction zone.

Bathrooms create a different type of challenge. If the home only has one and it needs updating, either set up a temporary camping toilet in the garage or an unused walk-in closet or rent a Porta Potty. Although neither probably sounds ideal, both can get a person through the renovation period without having to constantly leave the house to make toilet runs to a gas station or other location. Stock the temporary bathroom with plenty of toilet paper, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer to maintain hygiene.

If your bathroom needs significant alterations, consider staying in a hotel, so you can still shower during the week that it takes for a typical plumbing redo. If the bathroom only needs a day or two of work, consider showering at your fitness center the one night it can’t be used.

Renovating Your Home Instead of Moving

When you need to own a larger home but love where you live, just renovate it. An architect and construction crew can construct a home addition that adds a lower or upper floor, or extend the home outward. Stay where you love and expand your existing home to enjoy it even more.

Prepare yourself, family members, and other areas of your home for the influx of construction workers. Create a temporary kitchen or bathroom if either of those rooms will undergo renovations that preclude their use. Once it’s done, enjoy your new home.