Add-On or Buy a Bigger Home?

You love your home and can’t ask for a better neighborhood. It’s the place with so many memories and plenty of comfort; but now, you’re running out of space. All the closets are stuffed full and there’s no room left in the attic and you certainly don’t relish the prospect of renting storage space. That would be inconvenient and an ever more expensive proposition the longer you hold onto it, all to store things you really don’t need and do not use. What’s worse is that before you know it, you won’t remember what it is that needed a home away from home.

So, you’re faced with one of two choices, you can either remodel your home or you can buy a bigger house. Now, there’s a whole new set of questions that come into play and it’s these that make the decisions such a difficult one. It’s a dilemma that doesn’t seem to have a clear-cut answer and it becomes all the more perplexing when you begin to factor in other considerations. Chief among these is where would you live and how would a new location impact your lifestyle?


Adding-on to a home is quite a big commitment. First and foremost, you’ll give-up yard space or add another story to your home, which will directly impact its energy consumption. You also have to do the math because this means staying where you are for a longer period of time in order to allow the equity to grow and to recoup your investment.

“Given that the average homeowner moves about every seven years, you should be concerned about the resale value of your home. It’s best to do some research about whether you should add on or whether you’d be better off moving to a home that may already have the features and extra room that you desire.” —Home Insight

If you begin to explore an addition, it’s common for every homeowner facing this conundrum to get three or more renovation estimates. Whatever that amount is, add on at least 15 percent to 20 percent, because in a typically scenario, unexpected contingencies will inevitably arise and bust your original budget. In addition, there will be long term costs, in the form of maintenance and replacement of things here and there–meaning, you’ll have more roof to replace, more interior space to cool and heat, more utility systems to maintain, and less space in your yard.


So, should you add-on or buy a bigger home? In some instance, it makes sense, both in practicality and financially, to build an addition. However, this isn’t always the case and you need to factor-in a few considerations:

  • Think beyond cost. While money is a very large factor in your decision, it shouldn’t be the only one. As stated, whatever the estimated cost of an addition is, tacking on another 15 to 20 percent for contingencies is a must. In addition, you’ve got to consider how you’ll finance the project. If you sell, you can take the sale proceeds to purchase another property. But if you finance an add-on, you’re putting that equity on the line.
  • Consider the neighborhoods. Even if you really like your current neighborhood, chances are excellent there are more like it in your area. Because the Sarasota area is so highly desirable, you won’t have trouble finding a new neighborhood with the same charm and value. In addition, you can likely find another neighborhood or maybe something close by to where you currently live to cut down on your commute time.
  • Know can investment easily turn into a loss. If you add-on to your home, you’re taking a risk. You’re betting that your home will not only hold its value, but increase and not be priced out of the neighborhood. That, by the way, is something which can trap you in your current location. Should you build an addition and price your home out of the neighborhood, you won’t be able to sell it in the future.
  • Don’t leave personality out of the equation. Your current home might have a lot in the way of personality, but keep in mind that building an addition isn’t an overnight process. It will take weeks, upend your home life, and will push your patience to the limits. Even if your current home is comfortable, it won’t be the same after the addition is built.
  • Consider utility costs. Sure, a bigger home will cost more to cool and heat, but it isn’t likely to need expensive upgrades. If you stay and build-on, your plumbing and electrical systems will very likely also have to be upgraded to handle the load. What’s more, you’ll have to buy a bigger HVAC system and probably a larger water heater. In the end, you’ll still spend more to stay.