The need and desire for more space is a common refrain among homeowners. Between growing families, evolving hobbies, and the ever-expanding need for a home office, it’s no wonder we find ourselves yearning for extra square footage. But the question arises: do we build an addition onto our current home or embark on the exciting, yet daunting, journey of finding a new one?

Both options present unique sets of challenges and rewards, and the “right” choice hinges on your individual priorities and circumstances. So, let’s unpack the boxes and compare the two paths:

The Cost Equation:

Addition: Construction costs vary greatly depending on size, materials, and complexity. Add in permits, architectural fees, and potential temporary housing, and the bill can climb quickly. However, you avoid realtor fees, closing costs, and the potential price difference between your current and dream home, which can be significant. In Westchester county, figure $400/sf for new space and $175 for heavily remodeled space…and what about those interest rates? What about the procedures?

Moving: This route comes with realtor fees, closing costs, moving expenses, and potential renovations in the new house. But you also gain the potential for a lower mortgage rate and tax benefits depending on your location. Remember to factor in the cost of selling your current home, including staging, repairs, and open houses…and what about those interest rates? And how about the lack of housing inventory?

The Time Investment:

Addition: Expect anywhere from six months to a year (or more) for construction, depending on the project’s scope. This involves living amidst noise, dust, and disruption to your daily routine. Patience is key! Expect to participate !

Moving: The house hunting process itself can be time-consuming, with weeks or months spent searching, negotiating, and finalizing the deal. Add in packing, unpacking, and settling into a new environment, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Customization and Comfort:

Addition: You have the ultimate control over designing a space that perfectly suits your needs and preferences. Expanding a kitchen, adding a home office, or creating a dedicated hobby room allows you to tailor your home to your lifestyle.

Moving: While you might find a house that ticks most boxes, compromises are often inevitable. You may sacrifice your ideal layout, perfect backyard, or beloved neighborhood for more space in a different location or longer commute.

Future-proofing Your Decision:

Addition: Consider your long-term needs. Will this addition accommodate your future plans for family growth, aging-in-place requirements, or evolving hobbies? If not, you might be building short-term and facing another move down the line.

Moving: Think about your future in this location. Are you rooted in your community and schools, or is a fresh start appealing? Does the new location offer the amenities and proximity to work or family that align with your future vision?

The Emotional Factor:

Addition: Leaving behind familiar walls and a cherished neighborhood can be wrenching. An addition allows you to preserve the memories and emotional connection to your home while gaining the extra space you desire.

Moving: The excitement of a new chapter and the potential to discover a dream home can be exhilarating. But be prepared for the emotional upheaval of uprooting your life and adjusting to a new environment.

Ultimately, the decision to stay and add or move on is deeply personal. Weigh the financial implications, time commitment, level of customization, future needs, and emotional attachment to your current home. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but by carefully considering these factors, you can make a choice that expands your living space and brings you joy in the long run.

Bonus Tip: Before making a final decision, consult with a qualified architect, contractor, and realtor to get a realistic understanding of the costs, timelines, and potential challenges involved in each option. Their expertise can be invaluable in guiding you towards the path that best suits your unique needs and budget.

Happy house hunting (or expanding)!

Article by Steven Secon