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Plenty to consider if you plan on adding to your house

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Better to move or to add on?

Dear Heather,

We don’t know whether to add on to our house or sell it and get a bigger one. How much more would our house be worth if we added an extra bed and bath, and how can we find out?

House Too Small

Dear House Too Small,

It’s a question that often crosses the minds of homeowners. Many think it would be nice to move, but lack the money or desire to pack everything up. The truth is that adding or expanding a room isn’t much easier than moving.

Your addition may require you to choose an architect, contractor, banker, attorney and interior decorator, but also involves getting planning approval and, without doubt, a lot of money.

Did you know that, on average, a new, moderate build is $350 per square foot? Not only that, but the inconvenience is daunting, with a portion of your home filled with dust, plaster, nails, noise and other construction materials.

After thinking about all that it entails, you may decide it is worthwhile moving after all.

So if you’re dreaming of a home addition, here’s what you should consider before moving forward:

• Who should you hire?

Begin with an architect. If you are going to get a loan in order to add to your house, you will need to have architectural plans from which you can base the cost of your project and for submission to the Department of Planning for approval.

It’s important to build something that will look and feel like part of the house and not something that’s been tacked on.

• How much will the addition increase the value?

If you spend $200,000 on an addition, your house will be worth $200,000 more. Correct?

Unfortunately not. You should have your property formally assessed by a qualified appraiser, as you will want to know its current value. This will also be a bank requirement if you are looking for a loan.

You will then need to get quotes from two contractors on the cost of building and get the appraiser to give you the estimated value of the property with the completed renovation. Things like location, neighbourhood amenities, proximity to the road, privacy and value of the market in a few years will all come into play.

• How much will you spend?

The cost of an addition varies widely, depending on the type of room and size. Driving the degree of expense will be whether there are major walls to pull down or steel beams to put in, if you are taking off a portion of the roof or if it involves plumbing and drainage.

Most homeowners pay for additions by refinancing their home or getting a short-term loan. Although it’s a small consideration compared with the cost of adding a room, be aware that your homeowners’ insurance will likely go up.

So be sure to contact your insurer before you begin building. If the new addition is destroyed or damaged before insurance coverage has been increased, you may be responsible for the cost of repairing or rebuilding.

The bottom line is that if you feel as though you need more space carefully consider your options before automatically assuming that money spent will mean money back, as this is not always the case.

Your agent may be able to help you decide whether an extension would be worth your while, before you start embarking on some of these expenses.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for nearly 30 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 article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

On average, the cost of a new, moderate build in Bermuda is $350 per square foot