Washington DC Home Additions: Is Bigger Better?

    Will more square footage make my addition more valuable?

    Let me take you back to a time when we all felt the need for more room. In the late 20th Century, families who had grown up in small square footage homes - built for the growing middle class after World War 2 - were feeling the limitations of those close quarters. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, and if you don’t just ask your parents (or grandparents)! Small rooms with small doorways leading to other small rooms felt predictable–and very confining. New construction and new additions to these homes was driven by a desire to overcome that feeling of confinement.

    If you think a large sized addition with more square footage will automatically increase the market value of your home, read this related article: “WHAT'S THE COST OF A HOME ADDITION IN WASHINGTON DC?

    In the 80’s and 90’s bigger was better, with bigger houses and bigger additions as the norm. It made sense because we needed the room! But today, needs have changed again, and just adding square footage to your home is not the only consideration for a renovation project.

    When considering your own addition, you’ll need to start with the parameters of buildable area on your property. What are the setbacks from your property boundaries prescribed by your municipality for home remodeling in the Washington DC metro area? From there, you’ll want to tailor the dimensions of the proposed addition to the function of the interior rooms. The needs you are trying to address, will ultimately determine the interior dimensions and footprint of the addition. Sometimes going big is the right choice because you really need the space to accomplish your goals.

    But bigger is not what makes a room better or an addition a “better value.” It is all about the design and detailing of the space and the purpose it is intended to serve. If a home addition is too big, it will contain wasted space. If it’s too small and unambitious, it will struggle to successfully fulfill its functional purpose.


    Finding the “Right Size” for a Home Addition

    Finding the right size for your home addition starts with asking the right questions. Not just “what do we need more of?” but “what would we like less of?” More room to entertain? Less clutter? 

    The ultimate question to ask when determining the size of a home addition is : “What will each area of this space be designed for?” You don’t want to walk through a part of your home and realize you never use it.

    Spend some time daydreaming and brainstorming about what you want this addition to do and the problems you are looking to solve. 

    Is There a “Sweet Spot” for Square Footage of a Home Addition?

    The size of an addition really depends on your needs. We recently worked on a mudroom/storage space that needed some upgrading and reconfiguring. In the process, we expanded the entry/exitway, and added a window to take advantage of the picturesque view of mature trees in the side yard. The addition was small but made noticeable improvements in the quality of life for that family. In this case, a modest increase in size facilitated better use of space. Better not bigger made all the difference.

    It bears repeating: well-designed space is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and meets your needs. That might translate into a small mudroom addition, or a kitchen and breakfast room addition that adds 1,200 square feet to expand into. It may mean two stories to fulfill the need for a family room downstairs and new primary suite upstairs. 

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    What Do I Need to Know About the Cost of a Home Addition?

    Whatever the size of your addition, there are variables that make an impact on the cost of that home addition. Here are a few things to consider:

    Scope and Budget

    If you are like most homeowners considering an addition, the wish list is long. You want to get the most bang for your buck. A good design/build firm will work with you to achieve as much of your wish list as possible within a firm budget. Things can always be added along the way, but starting out with a project cost you can rely on is a big help. The right renovation partner will also help you go from daydreaming and brainstorming to really focusing on what is driving the need for an addition, and addressing those needs in creative ways.

    Cost Related to Size

    There is not always a direct correlation between the size of an addition and the cost. It depends on the quality of the finish materials and architectural details. A larger addition can be built at a similar cost to a smaller addition, but there will be a trade off on quality.

    The details matter. A space built with care made of durable materials that you enjoy seeing and interacting with everyday will likely cost more than something done with less attention to detail. If it is stunning to behold, you can expect it comes at a premium price.

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    Other Considerations for Right-Sized Home Additions

    What else should you be thinking about when considering the size of a potential home addition?

    • The long term - Try to think beyond the immediate problem you are solving and consider how the new space will merge with the existing space, and how the new space will adapt to your needs over time. 
    • Avoid the “big and bland” trap - When a large space is not well defined with texture, color, and the way light interacts with it, it will appear bland and lack personality. Big spaces that are not well-designed can also feel unwelcoming.
    • Look outside - Outdoor living space is becoming more important to homeowners. When designing an addition, pay attention to how indoor spaces might flow into outdoors more seamlessly. When considering better use of outdoor space, the right size of an addition may be smaller than you’d think. 

    Is bigger better? No. There are many factors to consider when designing an addition that is the right size for you. A good design/build firm can help you weigh these considerations to build a home addition that is sized to meet your needs now and into the future. 

    To learn more about the design-build process, download our eBook titled "How Gilday Renovations Integrated Team Delivers the Home of Your Dreams" to get an in-depth understanding. If you are considering a home renovation, please feel free to schedule a home renovation discovery session with Gilday today.

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