Building Up vs. Building Out

Ready for an addition to your home? If you need extra space whether it’s for a new addition to the family or parents needing care or wanting to be closer to family, or simply need more space for a home office, consider which way you want to build.

The first step will be to assess what room you want to add. Are you looking to add an extra bedroom, expand the kitchen or add a recreation room or home office? Some of these rooms are traditionally on the first floor of the home. Kitchens, for example, are definitely the first-floor expansion. With home offices, the main consideration will be where you’ll have the most peace and quiet to be productive.

The second thing to consider is how much square footage you want to add. If you are building out do you have the acreage to do so? How will you affect the rest of the footprint of your property? Will this infringe on lawn space or outdoor recreational space? Will building out an increase in the resale value of a home or diminish it? In urban areas, lot sizes are compact and building up is the only option. In this case, there may need to be a redesign of the current downstairs to address which rooms stay downstairs and which rooms end up upstairs. This can be as simple as moving furniture out and redesigning existing rooms, or it may involve a small remodel to current rooms.

Benefits of building outwards instead of upwards including minor disruption to the current living space. Generally, only one wall is compromised for the expansion. If it’s just a small expansion there may not need to be any foundation work for the support of the new structure. Building up requires ensuring the foundation can handle the additional weight and that current supporting beams on the lower level of the home can handle the addition.

Each city has different permits for building. Some require a legal property line ‘setback’ from your neighbor, meaning you can’t build right up to your property line. As well some areas only allow certain square footage to be built on. There are height limits in some cities that restrict how tall a building or home can be, so know what you can build before you spend money on any type of construction. A general contractor should be able to help walk you through the permit process and should be familiar with the requirements of the city you live in.

Most general contractors will consult for free, meaning they will assess your property and offer a quote for the type of construction the homeowner is considering. They may also have ideas as to how to make the construction more economical or how to best use the space available.