Add on or Move on?

by J on July 2, 2010

Do you own a ranch-style house and feel like you are being squeezed at the seams? If you are at the point where you just need to come up with more living space, it’s time to consider your options. Basically, you can add on to your present home, or you can start the search to move to a new home. How do you decide which option is right for you?

Well, you need to take into account the cost of both alternatives and also how tied you are to your current neighborhood. Do your best friends live down the block from you and you just can’t picture yourself moving from your close-knit community? Do you have children, and if so, are they settled and thriving in the school district where you live? These are important questions to consider and the answers to them will probably point you in the direction you need to go.

You also need to compare the cost of moving versus adding an addition on to your house. When looking at a home addition, consider what type of space it is that you need more of. For example, if you need more general living space for things like entertaining and parties, then adding on to the lower level of your ranch home by renovating the garage or adding on a family room addition makes the most sense. If, however, you need more bedroom space for a growing family, then look into the option of putting on a second-floor addition.

This big step requires that you involve both a home remodeling contractor and an engineer. The engineer is needed to help the homeowners and the contractors assess the original structure to see if it can physically support the weight of a second floor. Before you make this decision, you also need to consider the other homes in your neighborhood.  Are there other two-story homes already in your area, or would yours be the first? If there aren’t other two-story homes, than an upstairs addition might not be a good investment and would be considered “overbuilding” for your neighborhood.

And, finally, if you are undertaking a major renovation such as a second-floor addition, you need to determine whether you will be able to remain in the house during construction or if you need to relocate temporarily—which will add to the cost of the whole project.

To help you work through your options, contact a realtor, an engineer and a home improvement contractor to help you assess the costs and feasibility of each choice. Doing your research ahead of time will help you make the decision that is best for you and your family.

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