Home Additions: Building Out vs. Building Up in Seattle | Part One – Building Out

Choosing to renovate your Seattle home is a huge step, and one that comes with a lot of things to consider, especially if you are looking to expand the size of your living space. The first thing you need to decide is if you are planning on “building out” by increasing the footprint of your home on the ground floor or “building up” by adding more stories to your existing home. Of course, the right answer depends on your needs, preferences, and limitations. In this segment, we will focus on the pros and cons of building out.

What is a Build Out in Construction?

A build-out in construction is a process that involves the addition or alteration of an existing structure. It typically involves adding new walls, ceilings, floors, and other features to the existing building. Often, build-outs involve expanding a current space or creating an entirely new one in the form of a room addition. During a build-out, contractors will often need to demolish part of the existing structure to make room for the new addition. They may also need to install new wiring, plumbing, and ductwork to accommodate the changes.

The Advantages of a Building Out Addition in Seattle

Deciding to build out is a great option for several reasons. You’ll encounter fewer lifestyle disruptions, maintain easy accessibility for everyone in the house, and gain extra square footage.

Fewer Disruptions

Of the two options, building out typically involves the least disruption to the existing space and thus to daily life during the remodel. When you choose to build out, the work is done on the main floor. Since construction isn’t happening above you, it is easier to remain in your house during the construction.

Easy Accessibility

Building out keeps all expansion to the first floor. This is especially ideal if you are living with a family member with mobility issues or physical limitations. Stairs can be difficult, especially for older household members or those with disabilities. Keeping things on the ground floor makes accessibility a non-issue. More people are opting for a design style called “Universal Design.” Universal Design is the design of residential and commercial buildings with the goal to make them completely accessible to people of all abilities, ages, or other factors.

Simpler to Integrate

Integrating with your existing floor plan is simpler when you expand the square footage by building out. Whether adding a sunroom or family room or expanding your kitchen, it’s easier to integrate your HVAC, plumbing and electrical needs into the existing layout.

Ability to Multitask

Sometimes, it is easier to multitask in a ranch-style home than in a two-story house. For example, you can check on your children by calling into the next room rather than putting your work aside and heading up the stairs. In a similar matter, when it comes to house cleaning, building out will eliminate the need to lug a vacuum up and down stairs. A single-story floor plan home can be an attractive option for many homeowners.

[Related: Home Additions: Building Out vs. Building Up Part Two – Building Up]

“Before” Photo of Building Out Home Remodel

The Disadvantages of Building Out Your Existing Home

While expanding your house’s footprint (the total space it takes up on the property) might seem like the correct route for you, make certain you can work around the cons that come with building out, such as the cost of excavation and new foundation expenses, yard loss, and tricky zone limitations.

Cost of Excavation and Foundation

If you decide to build out to gain square footage, you’ll need to consider the cost of excavation and a new foundation. Residential excavation will level the land by removing trees, compacting the dirt, and prepping for the outward expansion of your home. Excavation and foundation costs depend on how large the area is and if any additional services, such as grading or erosion control, are needed.

Loss of Outdoor Space / Yard

If you need to expand your home and have the property size, that’s great! However, one of the drawbacks of expanding outwards is sacrificing the side or backyard of a house. If you don’t mind swapping a large yard for a more spacious home, plenty of do-it-yourself options can help you make the most of your smaller yard space. For example, you can landscape by adding large potted plants and living hedge fences, which look nice especially along the property line. Your outdoor living space will become a welcoming appendage to your new and improved home renovation.

Zone Limitations

Before you commit to expanding your home on the main floor, be aware of all zoning laws. The Seattle Municipal Code states that the combined footprint of all structures cannot exceed a percentage of your total lot size. The Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections advises, “For single-family zones, the total coverage is limited to 35 percent of the lot (on lots 5,000 square feet or larger) or 1,000 square feet plus 15 percent of the lot area (on lots smaller than 5,000 square feet).”

For more information about building out vs. building up, read Part Two of this series –  pros and cons of adding a second story to your house, or “building up.” Whether you’re looking to add to your home by building out or building up, Harjo Construction can help you create a plan and make your home renovation dreams a reality. Contact us today to start your home addition journey.

To learn more about Harjo Construction and our projects, view our portfolio! To keep up with our latest updates, stay in touch on social media.