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#5: We want to make our home bigger. Is it better to have a second floor addition or to have an extension onto any side of the house?

To build up or build out? This is one of the most asked questions when considering an addition. Many would be quick to propose that it costs less to to build up than to build out because you do not have to pour any additional foundation. This may be true but there are a number of issues to deal with, including removing your existing roof. Thus, this option might end up being more expensive. Plus, some communities have height restrictions, so if you want to build up, you must first determine if your community will allow it. A visit to your local building inspector's office is the quickest way to find out about this.

Also, a structural engineer must determine if your existing foundation will support the second story or not. If not, you will first have to enlarge and reinforce the foundation, which is expensive. You may also need to reinforce the existing lower story walls, which usually means removing all or part of the siding. Existing concrete piers under the house may also require larger footings.

Building out, could cost less but it also means less yard space. If you're not willing to sacrifice part of your yard, then this option might not be for you. It also still requires preparing and submitting plans to the building inspectors' office. A new foundation with proper footings must be poured. If the area for the addition is inaccessible, all materials and equipment might have to be hand carried into the area and concrete will have to be pumped. New plumbing must be joined to the existing supply and drain lines.

There are certainly challenges that come with any home addition, but don't let this discourage you. Home additions (whether it's building up or out) are done every day and you can do the same for your home. Just be aware of these and do the research to help you make an informed decision.

You can get the best estimate of a job by bringing a set of plans to a professional contractor. To get in touch with a Designer, Architect or Contractor, use the free online referral service at

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