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The Right Addition

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Remodeling a room or redesignating its goals may work for a quick fix, but experts are seeing a rise in homeowners adding space to their homes. This allows for full creativity in idea conceptualization as it's not only starting from scratch, but also designing an area from inception and influencing its structure. If it's realistic, and township-approved, the sky's the limit for inventiveness and artistry, especially with the guidance of a professional.

"It takes a fair amount of time to do the planning… but what can happen is, over time the more you think about it, the project sort of grows in your mind and maybe you want to add things. The better a project is planned up-front, the smoother it goes while it's happening. And for us, 99% of the time, the people are living at home while we're doing the renovations, so it's extremely important that we have things well-planned out," says Dennis Gehman, president of Gehman Design Remodeling.

The time frame for each project is different depending on lifestyle, expectations and various methods of planning. Some might like to take their time and ensure every detail is mapped out before construction begins. Others might like to decide on elements as they go after seeing their ideas come to life. It's important to remember that it is an undertaking that requires several moving pieces.

"You want to at least give yourself a good six months to basically come up with a written scope, decide on a floor plan, have material selections, and then also allow ample time for permitting and lining up your trades for construction because that can take a little time," explains Eileen Lee, operations manager of Total Home Solution.

Homeowners generally know what they want by the time they call a professional, but for those still in the brainstorming phase, there are plenty of sources of inspiration already out there. From home bars, sun rooms, libraries, kids' lounges and music rooms to a room decked out in sports memorabilia perfect for inviting loved ones to watch the game, any passion can become a reality with the help of a professional. With the internet in addition to print publications and television, there's millions of models available to spark your vision.

"Do a little bit of homework and gather some inspiration. Have some ideas and those details that you're really set on having. That way, we can give a more accurate proposal in the beginning. Because with an addition, things can get complicated and things can get missed. So, it's really good to have a little bit of a game plan before even giving us a call. That way, a vision is really understood by our salesmen and project managers," notes Jessica Jurisch, marketing manager at E&E General Contracting LLC.

Jurisch encourages those interested in a home addition to call sooner than later, as the permitting process is different in every area. Sometimes approvals take up to six weeks, and the entire build requires the collaboration of a permitting project manager, an engineer, an architect, the homeowner and the township. There's a lot involved in the process of a home addition, but those who go through it find it worth the time, planning and effort, as additions can suit any range of needs or desires, both practical and recreational.

"A very popular development is multigenerational living, so some type of in-law suite. We've been seeing a rise in that in the past few years or so," says Lee. "We've also seen a lot of conversions or additions based on specialty needs like saunas and gyms or she sheds. We've also seen a lot of spaces for hobbies or crafting, gaming rooms and man caves."

With the housing market especially difficult to afford or to navigate for young adults, that multigenerational living trend has also extended to creating expanded spaces for adult children to live at home and still have their space and privacy. Although additions take work, the result is a place that makes life easier by adding accessibility. Gehman has helped homeowners who want to stay in place as they age, so adding space to the first floor makes doing so safer.

"A first-floor bedroom, like a master suite, is almost more of an aging-in-place kind of thing. People who are getting older realize they like their house and neighborhood; they want to stay there, but getting on the stairs to the second-floor bedrooms is becoming more difficult. So, we've done a number of bedrooms and bathroom additions," he says.

Other pragmatic uses for an addition include a place for pets, an extra kitchen or a home office. It really depends on the unique personality of each household. The more personalized a project is, the more special it will become. That is just one of several benefits to adding space instead of moving to a larger home. Another is the cost comparison: Although construction for an addition is an investment, many feel that the aforementioned modern housing market is not worth the hassle of a transition.

"The benefits of adding space as opposed to moving are pretty obvious. First off, moving stinks. It's a lot of work. Leaving the home, neighborhood, and potentially schools that your family knows could be challenging and emotional. You know what you have with your home and you've put in a lot to get it to where it is today," affirms Brian Iwano, owner of Blue Tree Builders.

And if you decide to move in the future, additions benefit both property value and curb appeal. After all of the planning, permitting, construction and decorating, an addition will be advantageous due to its fulfillment of relaxation, convenience or entertainment; but it can also be profitable one day. Especially if equipped with the utilities or organizational structure for a walk-in closet or another bathroom, for example, the expansion will be a selling point when placed on the market.

"Depending on the type of addition that it is, you can generally see between like 50% and 80% return on investment. That's just in the current market, so who knows what that would be in a few years. Square footage is always a good choice when looking to add property value [especially] depending on what type of addition you're wanting to do. So, the most return on investment you're going to get is with a kitchen space," Jurisch explains.

If practicality isn't the ideal vision, a homeowner can still get a return on investment. The interior may be out-of-the-box customization to the extreme, but design-build companies are skilled at making the exterior match the original structure while making the entire house look better than before. Jurisch compares addition construction to a "mini house build," and recommends that homeowners treat it as such.

"Additions can increase curb appeal as these projects typically [require] significant exterior remodeling as well. During this process, it's the opportune time to make updates to siding, roofing, landscaping and other finishes that definitely help curb appeal," adds Iwano. It is never too early to get started and to let ideas flow, no matter how inventive. There are so many renovation solutions to transform a space, but building from the ground up guarantees that every detail will fit household preferences. The finished product will be an evolution in enjoying everyday life, right at home.


Blue Tree Builders
Cherry Hill, N.J.
(609) 240-3231

E&E General Contracting LLC
Gap, Pa.
(717) 442-4814

Gehman Design Remodeling
Harleysville, Pa.
(215) 515-2020

Total Home Solution
Eagleville, Pa.
(610) 228-2030

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 24, Issue 7 (June 2024)
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