Homeowners hoping to expand their homes are faced with a number of choices. One of the first they will have to make is which direction to take their expansion. Homeowners can choose to expand horizontally, increasing the footprint of their homes, or vertically.
Professionals urge prospective remodelers to consider the pros and cons to each expansion option, including which direction to build.
One of the first considerations is land space. Building horizontally will cut into yard space that you may have already earmarked for a pool, shed or another feature. Proximity to neighbors and the dimensions of your property will also help to determine if expanding horizontally is a good idea.
Building codes and neighborhood requirements also must be considered before making any renovations. Some municipalities may have rules in place that govern renovations. Add-ons may not be allowed to exceed certain height limits, nor may structures be built within a certain number of feet of property lines.
Homeowners who choose to build upward will have to contend with work crews and other staff being in their homes. Raising the roof may require vacating the premises at a certain point. Also, extensive renovation work will be needed on the lower level of the home, whether it's to shore up the structure, clean up after the renovation or repair ceilings, drywall and other components where levels meet.
It may seem easier to expand outward, but this requires laying additional foundation for the new building structure. Bringing in digging equipment and masons can be costly. When you build vertically, such foundation work may not be necessary if your home is structurally sound and can bear the weight of the addition.
Building out typically involves the least disruption to your life and the existing space. Homeowners should keep in mind that any renovation will require permits or variances. In addition, if the project increases the value of the home, home insurance costs and property taxes may rise. Only after all considerations have been weighed should a project begin.