Two options come to the forefront when your family needs more living space — build an addition or finish the basement. Although you could move to a larger home, that's not always realistic, desirable or feasible financially. Your best options are often hard to choose from, but with careful consideration you can find a clear winner in basement renovations vs home additions.
Decide What You Need to Have
When it comes to renovations there are certain elements you must have — such as more space or storage, improved comfort, greater durability, better quality — and some that would be nice to have. You must differentiate all potential aspects of your dream renovation, placing them in priority sequence if possible.
Can you live without larger windows, or would the installation of upgraded windows save you money on heating and cooling costs? Is it a priority to add an extra bathroom, or can you make do with the current bathroom space in your home? Think about each element individually and consider whether it is a â€œmust-haveâ€ or just â€œnice-to-have.â€ This list allows you to make better decisions regarding the scope and scale of your home renovation project.
Assess the Property
Take a closer look at both the condition of your basement and the available land around your existing house. In terms of a basement remodel, pay attention to any water damage and the general condition of your foundation. Cracks and leaks can cause serious damage later on, resulting in major repair costs and possibly unhealthy mold growth.
Would it be safe to finish the basement, and how much work is required to repair any existing water damage or decay? Older homes may also require an electrical service upgrade when additional outlets and fixtures are installed in the basement.
Prep costs for basement remodels include clearing out and demolishing the existing basement, repairing any water damage and upgrading the electrical as required. Make note of what you'll need to have done before the renovation starts, and keep those notes for comparison purposes.
In terms of planning for home additions, you'll need to find out about local bylaws. Using your survey plot some potential locations for a home addition, including dimensions and details such as door and window placement.
Planning is one of the major differences between basement renovations and home additions. While basement refinishing projects take time and effort, you're working with an existing structure and finishing the interior space. Home additions change everything from your landscaping to the roofline, foundation and house framing. An addition must be carefully planned from the beginning, consulting all local building codes and applying for the necessary permits well beforehand to ensure a smooth renovation. Basement renos tend to allow for greater flexibility, and require less involvement with the building department.
Prep costs for home additions may include demolition, building permits, applications for a variance and landscaping work. Any decks, fences and stonework that will be in the contractor's way must be moved beforehand, but remember to maintain security with temporary fences and blockades in dangerous areas.
Set an Initial Budget
Your budget may dictate whether a basement renovation or home addition will happen. Experts agree that, on average, basement renovations cost much less than a home addition of the same size with similar finishes. Most home additions require framing, roofing, insulation and structural support, driving the overall cost per square foot higher.
Some home additions have more manageable costs, including loft additions or attic conversions. These projects tend to piggyback on existing structural work, much like a basement remodel. And bump outs — home additions that involve extending one wall out by a limited amount, resulting in an expanded living space as opposed to an additional room(s) — come at a reasonable cost.
Once you have identified your must-haves and considered the prep costs, it's time to decide how much money you actually have to spend. Think about financing options and be sure to account for the increase in property value you will realize upon completion.
Both basement renovations and home additions improve the value of your home. Although you won't realize 100 percent of your initial investment, you can expect a basement renovation to bring a return on investment of between 60 and 70 percent. Home additions are more difficult to generalize, as the location, scope and size of the addition affects return. A professionally built home addition can increase your property value by substantial amounts, especially if that addition includes a bathroom or kitchen upgrade.
Think About Scheduling
Basement renovations can be completed in any weather, and this home improvement can stretch out indefinitely with very little effect to your daily life on the main floor. Home additions, on the other hand, can severely disrupt your home and family.
Adding a new room on the main floor or raising the roof to put in a second story may require moving out for a time. Consider this in your budget, including the costs to rent an apartment or hotel and any added transportation costs.
Not all home additions force you out of your home, but they are usually completed in the late spring, summer or early fall in order to avoid cold, wet weather. Climate conditions also put pressure on contractors to finish, making it more difficult to complete this project in stages.
Basically, if you need to take your time with this renovation and prefer not to have it disrupt your daily life, basement renovations are best. If you plan to have this project completed in the warmer seasons and don't mind moving out or staying out of the way while the work is being done, home additions can work. What can you live with in terms of scheduling? And how will the home renovation you envision fit into that type of schedule?
Deciding between basement renovations vs home additions means weighing your priorities, setting a budget, assessing your property and setting the schedule. Both home improvement projects create more living space and improve the value of your home. The ideal project depends on your family's needs for the future.