Dear Monty: Are small additions to a home practical?
By Richard Montgomery
Reader Question: Will a $15,000 to $19,000 laundry room added to the back of my home add enough value to be justifiable? The house is worth about $150,000. It is a three-bedroom ranch built in 1997 with a gas fireplace and a remodeled kitchen. It would be something my wife would enjoy and make good use of the extra room for a closet and storage. The proposal also would add 10×6 feet to the garage. Tom G.
Monty’s Answer: There is sufficient information here to provide some pointers. The difference between small additions and typical home improvements is that you are adding additional structure and square footage. It is new construction outside the existing structure rather than refurbishing existing features within the home. There are code issues with an addition not present remodeling an existing home. You also want to be certain you have a building permit. Here is a column about remodeling without an addition. The points contained in the article are also necessary considerations in an addition.
Did you seek a plan? What are the proposer’s qualifications? Is it a remodeling contractor, a lumberyard, or an architect? Have you received other bids? You do not mention the size of this addition, but $20,000 seems very conservative for any addition. Have you seen a floor plan with elevations? Typically, the cost per square foot rises considerably as the size of the addition decreases. Are the specifications for materials included in the proposal? Is the addition on a solid foundation with footings? Footings under a slab foundation reduce the chance of settling one risks with a slab. The best addition is invisible from all angles to neighbors and visitors, but being unnoticeable is not always possible.
The most important factors with an addition
- Avoid creating unusual or odd sized floor plans or ceiling heights.
- Simulate the same quality of the materials and workmanship in the existing home into the addition.
- Create exterior elevations that add to, and not diminish, the home’s appearance.
- Does the current HVAC equipment have enough capacity to expand?
- Will the HVAC and windows provide even heating, cooling, and natural light?
- Ensuring that no design flaws are incorporated in the new addition roof that creates potential water penetration.
There is a concern here about creating an exterior shape that breaks up the architectural lines of your home. It sounds like the utility room is in the space abutting the rear wall of the garage and the house wall adjacent to the kitchen or back hallway. How will that new roof tie into the existing roof? A flat roof is a potential water issue in the future and changes the appearance of the house from the side yard and the back yard if I am envisioning the idea correctly. If you alter the roofline, it can look like an add-on. You are at a point where a drawing and a trained eye inspecting the house with you may be helpful. Here is a relevant article about creating flaws that may be helpful .
Not to imply adding a laundry room is a bad idea, but suggesting that more data makes for an informed decision. Most additions are considerably larger than what you describe. People do add laundry rooms, but typically it would be a part of a more significant addition. A laundry room in the context of a family room addition is an example. Another common combination is a bathroom and a laundry room.
Seek more opinions
Ask different professionals experienced with real estate in general and additions in particular that have seen your home. Certain real estate agents, good remodeling contractors or a draftsperson at a local lumberyard will all have good input. Have you spoken with different experts? Here is an article about identifying a good contractor.
How long you plan on living in the home, your financial circumstances, your health, and other factors also play a part in making the decision. If you have little concern for future return and can overlook any aesthetic deviation, it may not matter to you, but a future prospective buyer conscious about design may reject the house.
Consider making a comparison between selling your current home for one with a first-floor laundry room versus the addition to your current home. It is an alternative to be looking at very carefully.
“Richard Montgomery gives no nonsense real estate advice to readers most pressing questions. He is a real estate industry veteran who has championed industry reform for over a quarter century. Send him questions at DearMonty.com.”