ridgefield ct home addition exterior by demotte architects

Should We Build an Addition or Move…The Big Decision

Build An Addition or Move?

In my many years of practice, this is a scenario that I come across quite often when first meeting with clients contemplating an addition. A family lives in a house for a while & then they start to outgrow it, as it no longer meets their needs in some respects…“we need more bedrooms, we need more living space, we need a bigger kitchen.”

They contemplate whether to stay in the house (which typically involves an addition & remodeling), or to sell & move. Being a third party with a lot of experience in this area, I often help them through this soul searching exercise.

A big part of what architects do is creative problem solving, so I’m in a good position to help them assess the pros & cons of this scenario.

The typical scenario goes something like this:

We like our house, our property, the neighborhood & the town, but we’re outgrowing our house & it’s no longer meeting our needs. We’re trying to decide whether to stay & do what we need to make it work, or should we sell & move?


There are many factors that come into play in this decision, such as:

  • What’s the current value of the house, & how does that compare to buying another house, using the proceeds from the sale of the house along with the money you’re going to spend on improving it. A realtor could help you assess the value of your house by doing a comparative analysis (“comps”) & show you other houses that might meet your needs.
  • How much will it cost to build an addition & remodel the house to meet your needs? An architect or builder could help you analyze this.
  • What will the value of the house be once that work is done? A realtor could also help you assess this.
  • How much are my taxes going to increase? This is best answered by the local tax assessor, who should be able to approximate based on the proposed improvements.
  • Are you pricing yourself out of the neighborhood, being the most expensive house on the street? Some people are very concerned about this, while others are not.
  • How long do you plan on staying in the house? Is this a short term solution or a long term one? If you’re in it for the long haul, then it may make sense to stay.
  • Are the improvements being done primarily to solve your problems, or would this also be done  with resale in mind? While you might need a 6 car garage, a future owner most likely won’t. Some projects definitely improve the value of the house more than others.

The Cost of Buying a House vs Building an Addition

What I typically recommend is that homeowners do their due diligence by looking at other houses to see what’s out there. Many times, people find this is a sideways move…they’re buying another house which might be slightly bigger, but also needs some work. While that work may just be cosmetic (such as remodeling outdated kitchens & bathrooms), it can still be expensive.

After going through this exercise, I find that most homeowners choose to stay in their house & do what’s necessary to make it work for them. Personally, I think it’s the combination of the many factors that attracted them to the house in the first place…the house, the property, & the neighborhood. It’s home & they have a lot of emotional investment in that, so many decide to stay.

Home Sweet Home

Contrary to popular belief, your house is primarily a home & is not an investment. If you plan on settling in & being there a while, you might choose to make it yours even if you won’t realize the full payback on resale.  While you may not get back what you put into it, there’s something to be said for the enjoyment you’ve gotten out of living there & your quality of life.

For a couple with kids, this is surely a soul searching exercise that’s a life changing decision, not to be taken lightly. It’s ultimately your decision, but a good architect can help you filter through all the pros & cons.

DeMotte Architects: CT & NY Residential Architect

DeMotte Architects has been serving Connecticut & New York since 1990, helping to bring dream homes to life – for every style & every budget. Our work primarily consists of homes in Fairfield County CT & Westchester County NY.

If you or someone you know is considering an addition or remodel, let’s connect. View our past projects & testimonials on Houzz.