By David Wulff, AIA

You can create the space you need in your home without the cost and hassle of adding on.

Explore a less expensive, greener alternative.

Need a bigger kitchen, another bedroom or space for a playroom or home office? Your first thought may be to add on, but that can be a costly solution. Even if local zoning requirements for setbacks and lot coverage allow it, adding on is expensive. And construction costs soar any time you build a new foundation and break through a home’s exterior. For example, the average cost nationally of a midrange two-story addition is around $150,000. If you have a mountain home, it’s probably more given the challenges of building on a slope.

Most homeowners will discover the space they need within their home’s existing footprint — a less expensive and greener alternative. A designer can assess their needs and their home’s problems and suggest possible solutions.

It’s imperative to hire an architect or an interior designer (if you’re not moving walls) to help you through the design process. Going straight to a well-meaning builder or remodeler might save money upfront, but it could cost you at resale if the resulting proportions are wrong or the layout inconvenient. Remember, builders build, designers design. In this case you’re looking for design first.

Before starting a project I would urge clients to declutter so they can better see how much space they actually have. Remodeling always turns up surprises, so set aside a contingency fund in your budget. And because your home will become a construction site — albeit a modest one — it’s smart to move off-site if you can.

Here’s an example: Expand the kitchen

Problem: You want your kitchen to serve multiple purposes, but it’s too small and cramped to accomplish that efficiently. Plus, the cook doesn’t want family and guests to be underfoot but doesn’t want to be cut off from them, either.

Solution: Look at any adjacent space that you could reallocate to the kitchen, including part of a large room, such as a living room or family room; a rarely used formal dining room; a smaller, functional space, such as a powder room, pantry or closet that you could relocate; or a hallway or foyer that is wider or larger than necessary.

Tip: If you must give up some cabinets to break through a wall, think about building a 10-inch-deep pantry along a hallway or walkway in or near your kitchen.

David H. Wulff, Architect.