Adding Up vs. Adding Out


The past couple of years, it seems like you can’t go more than a few blocks without seeing a home renovation project. That’s an exciting reflection of the booming economy as well as the real estate market. Some prime areas in Redwood City are selling for as much as $1,000 per square foot, or even more. With numbers like that, sometimes it makes more sense to buy a small home and add on to it.

Adding Up

Adding an additional story can be a great way to dramatically increase your living space without buying a larger home. If your home is currently one level, adding up can give you more space to open up common areas like the kitchen and family room on the first floor and separate your living spaces to a different part of the house. Or if you have a smaller lot that doesn’t allow you to add out without completely losing your backyard, up can be a great way to go.

One drawback to going up is that you may need to upgrade or completely replace your foundation. Many of the homes in Redwood City were built between 1920 and 1960, and in many cases the existing foundation may not be able to support a second story. If that is the case, the house can be lifted off the foundation and a new foundation can be constructed, modified, or reinforced.

Adding Out

If you don’t need to add a significant amount of space, your home can still see an increase in value with the addition of a new master bedroom or a family room. If you have the space on your lot to add out, it may also be the most cost effective way to add onto your existing home. If your home’s foundation is in decent shape, you can increase the footprint of your home without making any major changes, which can save you some money.

If you decide to add out, be sure to consider how the addition will affect your yard and any outdoor living spaces. Another thing to keep in mind is how the addition works with your current living space. Will the character and style of the new space match the rest of the home? Will the floors and the ceilings be the same height as the existing space? Does the new space flow well with the rest of the layout?

If you decide to add on to your home (either up or out) be sure to hire professionals and think through your plan from beginning to end. A good architect, engineer, and contractor will help guide you through the process. The prep work is more than half of the job. Another thing to remember is that it will almost always cost more than it’s supposed to so pad your budget for any surprises that might come up. Things can also take longer than expected, so adding some buffer to your planning calendar can go a long way in managing expectations too. When you come out the other side of it, you’ll have a beautiful new living space and will have increased your home’s value.