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Smart ways to grow your home

Location, location, location: loving your neighbourhood is a good reason to stay where you are and expand your home when you need more space

Dear Heather

Our home is getting too small with our growing family. We don’t know whether to add on another bedroom and family room, or to sell and get something bigger. What do you suggest?

Growing Family

Dear Growing Family,

Adding to your home is a great idea for various reasons but there are some serious points you need to consider such as the impact of interest rates and property values on your investment. If you are considering building a home addition you’ll want to look at the following information as you make your decision:


Possibly the greatest factor when considering home additions.

Generally, many homeowners opt to build or renovate when interest rates are low and they can take advantage of this. When budgeting for your addition, it’s important to plan for the costs that are often associated with major home improvement projects.

The hefty costs of a new home addition are something that homeowners need to consider closely before embarking upon.

Construction costs are currently running at approximately $350 per square foot (plus or minus depending on building specifications). This does not include architects, land surveys or planning fees. It’s also important to consider the additional costs of utilities and taxes that will affect your annual budget.

Investment value

Could you recover the cost of a home addition at the point of sale? This is the main question for many homeowners investing in extra square footage. Even though extra square footage should drive up the value of your home, it is possible to overbuild for the lot and sellers don’t always recoup their entire investment due to other variables associated with property values.

Enjoyment factor

Cost and investment aren’t always the main considerations for homeowners who opt for new additions. Do you like the neighbourhood where you are living? Does the size of your lot allow you to expand and still get the privacy and garden space that you require?

Whether you’re considering extra bedrooms or an expanded kitchen, if an addition will restrict other areas of enjoyment of your property, it might be time to sell and buy another one rather than max out the lot of your existing property.


From conflicts with contractors, to having to constantly oversee the project, to the inconvenience of living in a construction zone, home renovations and new additions can be fraught with stress. While stress is a con, it’s also likely to be a temporary problem. Be realistic about the time frame, are you and your family in an emotional place that you can handle this?

The planning process alone can be lengthy. By working with skilled reputable contractors and planning carefully, you can avoid many of the headaches associated with residential building projects. Selling and buying may also be stressful but it tends to be short-lived and the prospect of a new home and neighbourhood can be quite exciting.

Design aesthetic

A poorly designed addition can detract from the appearance of your home. It’s important for homeowners to work with an architect who has the experience and knowledge to create one that’s in keeping with the aesthetics and flow of your home. An addition that’s mismatched with the main structure can detract from the visual appeal and practicality of the house, ultimately turning off future buyers.

Consider all of the pros and cons when it comes to making a decision about a new home addition. Talking to a reputable realtor can also help you gather advice about property values of similar homes in similar neighbourhoods, and whether your proposed addition makes financial sense or not.

•Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate