Should you build up or out when remodeling?

A two-story cabana above a home theatre addition allows for easy access from the outdoors to dine, relax and watch movies in style.

Are you thinking about expanding your existing home to increase square footage versus moving to a new larger home? If you love your neighborhood, the schools and venues, you may not be eager to move. Instead, you may be considering expanding your home’s first floor or building up to create a second floor. 

One major factor to consider is the cost to move versus the cost to stay. It is estimated that it can take up to seven years to recoup the money when you move. If you don’t plan to stay in your new home for at least seven years, you may want to consider building onto your existing home rather than moving. After all, you can build any room you desire, or you can bump out existing exterior walls to create more space in your rooms.

Before you begin the design-build process and determine your budget for your additions and renovation, you need to determine the type or types of rooms you need. The room’s purpose will help you determine whether you need to build up or out.

Whether you build up or out may depend on the size, shape, existing footprint of your home and your available yard space. If you plan on adding a rear addition, how big is your yard and what are your future plans for your backyard? While a small yard may offer the space needed for an expansion, it may not leave adequate room for a new in-ground or above-ground pool, greenhouse and/or garden or outdoor entertaining space with an outdoor kitchen, fire pit and dining area.

If you have more plans for your small backyard than expanding the square footage of your home, you may want to consider building up or adding a room at the side or front of your home.

Side additions are typically possible when you have a cottage home or a significant amount of space in a side yard that you do not use. Common rooms added to the sides of homes include bedrooms and bathrooms and in-law suites. You can also relocate kitchens and dining rooms to a side addition or add an attached garage.

Front additions involve moving the front wall forward. You’d want to perform this type of home renovation if you have a large front yard and a smaller backyard. Front of the house additions are typically used to expand living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms that are located at the front of the house.

When it comes to budgeting for your home renovation, it’s important to understand the range of costs involved in building up versus building out. Building out is significantly less expensive than building up. Making the decision to build up or out will also depend on your property size, your neighborhood’s zoning laws and HOA requirements, the condition of your home, your specific needs and your budget.