Adding On Instead of Moving Out
Written by: Lankarge/Nahorney for HomeInsight
Do you feel like your home is bursting at the seams and you need to add on? Join the club. In 2004, homeowners spent nearly $138.1 billion on more than 50 million home improvement projects, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. That trend shows no signs of slowing.
Where to Start?The kitchen is circa 1950s. The largest bedroom barely fits a queen-sized bed. The living room is long and narrow, not conducive to conversation. The floors are buckling. The walls haven't been painted in 15 years.
Before reaching for the sledge hammer, you need to think about your future needs as well as your immediate ones. Perhaps the last of your children is in college and you and your spouse enjoy cocktail parties. You might want to begin with a renovated living room - or perhaps adding on a family room that can serve as a multimedia room. And if you prefer to order in rather than cook, perhaps purely aesthetic improvements in the kitchen will do.
Thinking ahead can change that screened-in porch to a family room, or the minor kitchen remodel to a major remodel that includes removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room.
The key is to look into the future and picture what your life will be like in five or 10 years. Transforming your home to meet your changing needs can not only meet your current and future needs but also make it more appealing should you choose to sell your home.
With that information in hand, you can take a look at homes that already have the renovation you are considering and perhaps some extra features that you would like to have - maybe that master suite opens up to deck or patio or the family room has specialty moldings and a unique arched window to let in the light. Before you begin, be sure that it makes more sense to renovate than it does to buy a home that already has a new master suite (or kitchen, or family room, or extra bathroom, etc.) and any other amenities that you desire but that your current home lacks. See Remodel or Move: Does It Make More Sense to Stay or Go?
Financing Your Improvement
Once you decide to renovate, the next step is to decide how you are going to pay for it. The most straightforward method is to simply pay cash. See What's the Smartest Way to Pay for Your Home Improvements. If paying cash isn't possible - either because you haven't got that much saved, or the money is earmarked for other purposes - you will have to secure a loan. This part can be tricky because there are several options from which to choose, including:
Find out what your home is worth, calculate how much equity you can borrow against your home and locate a lender near you.
Hiring a Contractor
Unless you're a whiz at DIY, you will want to find a contractor. Ask relatives, friends, and neighbors for referrals to contractors they have used. Be sure to see the work they have done first hand and make sure you get additional referrals from at least three other contractors.
Before you make your selection, drop by unannounced to one of the job sites. Check to see how the site is kept. Are trucks parked on the lawn? Is the yard full of building materials and debris? Is loud music playing? Would you feel comfortable having the workers you see on this job in and around your home for a month or more?
The time you spend looking for the right contractor now will pay off in how satisfied you are during and after the remodeling process.
Ask your friends, relatives, and neighbors about their contractor.
A major home improvement can take two months to complete - spending time planning the job for at least six months can help to ensure that money will be well spent, and the addition will meet your current and future needs.
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