Home Additions: Build Up or Out?

Home Additions: Build Up or Out?
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    You plan to expand your home.

    That is a good decision especially if you enjoy where you live and simply want to make your residence more livable and worth more.


How you expand your home may have a big impact on your cost as well as the inconvenience that some home additions present. Should you build up or should you build out? That’s a decision that can have profound consequences regardless of the approach taken.

Building Out

To build out your home means to expand its footprint. Quite frankly, you will pay more for this option, although it may be the best option as far as you are concerned.

Your costs will increase if you must extend the foundation, a typical way that build outs are employed. However, if you choose a bump out, you can extend your living area by several square feet without making changes to the foundation. You can do this if your finished floor is above the landscape grade advises HGTV. That is not a lot of room, but it may be just enough to extend a kitchen nook or a family room.

A bump out means putting in new, longer floor joists to support the extension. The cost savings? About 15 percent or up to 30 percent if the bump out comes in under existing roofing.

Building Up

The more cost effective way to expand your home is to build up. But that is not always the case. While you are not dealing with changes to your foundation, you are making changes to the roof.

Typically, building up means adding one story to your roof or a portion of your home. One of the more cost effective approaches here is by adding one or more dormers, a move that can entail minimum modifications while delivering to you increase usable floor space. Instead of a room with a sloping roof, a dormer makes it possible to enjoy a room with a standard ceiling.

Depending on your home’s construction, your builder may need to shore up the current foundation. Load factors are important as the added weight must be supported. You may prefer this option for other reasons including preserving limited yard space.


Big on mostly everyone’s list is the disruption of the normal home routine. Expect that whatever construction does take place that you will be inconvenienced for weeks, if not months. Though this cannot be avoided, if you choose to build out, your disruption will be less than if you build up.

Building out means that much of the work is concentrated on the section of the home, with perhaps the adjoining area being unavailable for some time. Still, with drop clothes and plastic sheeting, you can routinely live your lives as you had done previously, with no need to relocate.

If you build up, some if not all of your home will be unavailable until the construction has been completed. A small inconvenience now becomes a large one and your family may have to relocate for months until the work is done. That’s an expense not everyone can afford, but one you will have to bear if your home is off limits for a season. Keep in mind that delays can push your project back further: are you prepared for that inconvenience?

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Other Considerations

Any type of home addition may require planning board approval before you proceed. In some locales, that also means visiting your neighbors to get their approval. Do not expect an easy way of it if your home changes the neighborhood drastically. You may come away with a home that is too big for your neighborhood or one that comes bit too close to your neighbors for their comfort.

Keep in mind that the cost of a renovation can simply shock you. If you can do any of the work yourself, then work with your contractor to do your part. Bankrate advises that you shop online for materials, to find the lowest prices and to save on sales tax. You may be able to buy supplies locally for less too if you visit certain “urban enterprise zones” that charge a lower tax rate.


HGTV Remodels: Addition Planning: Bumping Out

Bankrate: 5 Tips to Save Money on Home Renovations

See Also5 Things to Keep In Mind Before Starting a Renovation

Home Remodeling reference:

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Categories: Home Interior

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".