If you or your family have outgrown your current home, don’t start thinking about selling just yet. If you love your home and location, a great alternative is to build an addition. Home additions let you add square footage to your current house and customize it to whatever your needs may be. Whether a new sunroom, bathroom, kitchen expansion, mudroom, or something else, there are plenty of home addition options to choose from.
To help decide if a home addition is a right choice for your home, take a look at this guide for all you need to know. From types of additions, costs, ideas, and tips, you’ll be able to make the right choice for your home and family.
A question of value
The main thing to remember with any addition is not to think about it solely for the value boost to your home. Renovations generally always boost home value, but additions have a bigger focus on lifestyle value. If your home doesn’t suit your current needs, then base the addition around what is lacking. It may be a home office to free up commuting to work or a new bedroom for a growing family or visiting relatives.
Additions can also add value to a home, but they have to fit the house’s needs. For example, if there is only one bathroom, a bathroom addition can add great value. It’s also recommended to talk to a real estate agent for some advice before you do. They’ll know what is popular in your area or what other houses have that yours is lacking. With their help, you’ll be able to build an addition that is guaranteed to add value and attract buyers.
The great thing about house additions is that there are several different options that you can choose from. Depending on the type of home you own and your needs, there are a few choices. Keep in mind that the costs for each will also vary depending on the style, size, and any additional features.
These are ideal if you need a little more space, but without the want for an entirely new room or addition. Bump-outs are generally done to make a kitchen larger, add a breakfast nook, or add more space to a bedroom or living room. The outcome is more square footage, but it works within your home’s existing space and layout. It can even be done on a master bathroom to expand the room into a real luxury spa space. Bump-outs are also one of the more cost-effective choices for additions, so if budgets are a factor, this is a perfect solution.
It may sound like a much bigger time and cost investment to build a whole new level, but there are benefits to it. The addition will essentially double the current square footage of your home and open up many new room possibilities. For single-story homes, building up is the best way to increase that space. It also doesn’t take away from any yard space, so you can still benefit from the best of both indoor and outdoor living. Plus, if you can add a second story and continue living in your same home and neighbourhood, then the payback is well worthwhile.
Modern sunrooms are a great choice because they can be completely diverse in their design. They offer all the benefits of more square footage, while also bringing the outdoors closer. Sunrooms can be built as either year-round with a heater for winter use or as a three-season, which removes any winter use. With the added features that sunrooms also now offer, they can even be alternatives to a bump-out or full-scale addition to houses. For example, sunrooms can be outfitted with HVAC systems and electricity, much like any other room. You can use one as a new gym room, kids play area, or living and dining room. They also come as prefabrication designs or left as a custom build for a unique layout and design.
If your home is missing a garage, then this is a perfect style of addition to consider. While not a traditional living space per se, garages are just as multi-use in their design. They can double as a workshop, added storage, or be transformed into a detached garage suite. That can then be rented for added income or as a place for aging parents to move in and be closer to home. Garages also open the possibility of adding a new room above the garage for a double addition. It’s the perfect place to add a bedroom or bonus room for a variety of different uses.
As with a second story, basement additions are one of the more involved projects. That said, the potential they provide and the value a basement adds can make it worthwhile. Adding a new basement involves “house lifting,” where the soil beneath the house is dug out to accommodate the new space. That said, this type of addition is a rarer choice and naturally much more expensive than other additions. Like a second story addition, talk to a real estate agent before you choose a basement addition. They’ll let you know if the added value is worthwhile or whether a different type of addition would be more beneficial instead.
If you want another bathroom, a contractor can help determine if you have the space to do it somewhere in your home without having to add to the footprint of the house. Common places for bathroom additions are in the basement or attached to the master bedroom if it doesn’t have an ensuite already. Sometimes sacrificing closet space or storage space is all that is required for a simple bathroom addition.
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The cost of an addition is broken down based on several different factors and considerations. While there is an average estimate, the room size, materials, labour, and type of addition will affect specific costs. The recouped value will also vary, so the most accurate way to get an estimate is to speak with a professional. They’ll assess your home, your location, and the type of house addition you have in mind. Otherwise, these costs will give a rough estimate so you can start planning what addition fits into your budget.
These price figures are taken from HomeAdvisor reports for different home addition projects.
Low- to high-end addition: $5,500 – $139,800
Typical range for an addition: $21,295 – $70,852
Average cost: $45,830
The materials and included features, such as a high-end kitchen, luxury countertops, or real hardwood, will also affect the price. Costs will always vary between projects, so it’s important to factor that in on top of a general budget. A more accurate estimate, however, is to calculate based on square footage. That will help to decide how big or small to build an addition and give you a good price range to plan around.
The average cost for common square footage additions:
200 square feet (single car garage space): $11,520 – $28,800
400 square feet (average room addition size): $32,000 – $80,000
600-1000 square feet (first floor addition with multiple rooms): $48,000 – $200,000
Cost breakdown per addition
Between specific home additions themselves, the costs are further broken down. A second story or basement addition, for example, will cost much more than an average addition. These figures taken from HomeAdvisor are split between room additions, new levels, and other additions.
Bedroom (per square foot): $80 – $200
Bathroom: $25,000 – $75,000
*Sunroom: $20,000 – $70,000
Master bedroom suite (including bathroom): $59,400 – $96,500
*Sunroom costs largely vary depending on whether it is a four-season or three-season room. Four-season will naturally cost more where heating and electricity are necessary. Prefabricated sunrooms tend to cost less, so you can expect around $11,000 per 150 square feet.
New level: above ground and below
Basement (finishing an empty basement): $24,000 – $46,000
Adding a basement: $30,000 – $70,000 (may run upwards of $100,000)
*Second Story (per square foot): $100 – $300
*A second story will vary depending on the number of rooms added the size, and quality of materials. The complexity as well, such as whether separate HVAC must be installed or new plumbing, will play a role. Like luxury flooring or hiring professional help to paint and move in appliances, the type of materials also affect the final cost depending on what the second floor includes. For that reason, it may cost upwards of $500 per square foot for a second story.
Other types of additions
*Garage: $16,808 – $38,859
Garage suite: $100,000+
Bump-Out: vary on the type of house, location, and size of the bump-out
*Depending on whether you need a one, two, or three-car garage, the price will range accordingly. Three car garages range upwards of $57,000, while a single car garage ranges from $10,500 – $27,000. Remember that even a single car garage will cost closer to the higher end price range with separate heating, insulation, or electricity. Keep in mind as well that a detached garage costs more to build than an attached.
As mentioned before, house extensions can recoup some of the costs and boost your home’s overall value. The important thing to remember is that you want your new addition to suit your needs but also fit into the neighbourhood. Talking to a real estate agent or a general contractor that specializes in major home renovations is the best way to do that, as they’ll know the area and what stands out or appeals to buyers. If your home is lacking in any way, they’ll have the right suggestions for what addition to consider. From there, a general contractor can help plan the right budget and building plans.
Finding the right contractor
Home additions are not a recommended DIY project. With all the involved work, legalities, and details, it’s best to leave it to a professional general contractor. They’ll know what permits to apply for and what subcontractors are needed for any plumbing or electrical work. Any planning and design ideas can also be run past them to get some professional opinions and suggestions. With years of experience, they’ll notice details that an untrained eye may miss or not consider. A general contractor is also responsible for their subcontractors, so there’s no stress on your end to manage the work.
Depending on the scale of work, it may also be a good idea to hire an architect for a completely detailed blueprint of the addition. They even can help choose the right materials so that the quality of your addition is guaranteed from the start. Most importantly, they’ll ensure there are no design errors that could set back a project or result in additional unexpected costs.
Get multiple estimates
Don’t just start with one contractor and one estimate and then start building. Comparing estimates is the best way to find the right price for your house extension and your budget. Don’t always go for the lowest price either, especially when investing in someone a bit more expensive may pay off in the long run. Make sure that any estimates you do get are written down and dated, and say how long those estimates are valid. That way, you know how much time you have to look for the right contractor, and you have a guaranteed price range once you do.
Ask lots of questions
Remember that this is your home, and the addition will be lived in by you for many more years. If you have questions or doubts, don’t hold back on asking them. Instead, ask lots of questions. The more informed you are about the situation, the less risk there is of something going wrong or a design not being met. You’ll also be closer to your contractor, which will make that working relationship much easier. Find out things like how many subcontractors will be in your home, how long the work will take, and how you can reach your contractor and vice versa. Open, clear communication will make any additions to houses that much easier. It’ll also mean that any unexpected issues that do come up will be handled right away and without any panic.
Another thing to be aware of is any warning signs that your contractor candidate isn’t the right choice. Additions are big investments as is, so you don’t want to waste even more time and money on a bad contractor. Permits are always necessary for new additions, but your contractor should be the one to handle getting the right ones. If they ask you to sign or apply for permits, that is a warning that shouldn’t be ignored. Another sign is if they only accept cash, which may mean they are skirting taxes and may not be a registered business.
Always get a written contract as well, and never work off verbal agreements alone. Any changes, additions to the work, or otherwise, should also always be documented in some form. This will not only prevent, “he said, she said” scenarios, it creates a physical paper trail for future payments.
Another warning sign is if they ask for payment upfront, instead of at the end of the project. The only initial payment that should be made is a down payment that covers up to 20% of the house addition. Otherwise, you risk the age-old problem of paying for the entire project only to lose your contractor before the work begins.
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