Making space in a home goes further than just building shelves or cleaning out the basement. As a family grows, or as needs change, there comes a point when space either has to be created or revamped to meet the situations which arise at the time. This can mean making over a basement as a semi-private area for an older member of the family or joining two smaller rooms to make a bigger one. There are many ways in which room can be acquired for living space without building on to the outside of the home.
One of the easiest ways to make an addition to the home is to claim space in the basement. It already has walls and a floor to work with and the utilities are close at hand. As well, the electrical and HVAC will be easy to connect. If the basement is unfinished here is your chance to add some meaningful space without having to tear anything out. Then the walls can be framed and insulated. But, before this space can be used there are a few considerations:
Moisture: The first consideration is if water seeps into the basement at certain times of the year. There may be tell-tale cracks in the walls or just dampness where the floor meets the wall. Get a certified waterproofing expert to gage the flow. Most of the the time cracks can be sealed but if here is constant water then there is a good chance that there has to be exterior work.
Below Grade: If the space is to have a bathroom and/or kitchen and the basement is below grade - which means that the main sewer line is above the floor - then a pumping system will have to be installed. These are under $2,000.
Finished Walls: For peace-of-mind the area behind the walls should be checked for mold and dampness. If it is slightly wet or mold has gathered anywhere then the walls will have to be taken out. You may be able to get away with stripping off the interior and only removing the plate and bottom 1' of the studs. Then, when the problem is fixed, the frame can be repaired and the walls finished again.
Porch or Deck
Much of the cost of adding space to your home is the foundation. If you don't want to add onto the basement then going out onto the deck or porch may be the answer. Whether it is on cement columns or a footing the ground is stable and the deck joists will make good floor joists for a new room.
Porch: Many older homes have glassed-in porches in the front of the home. These began as open porches with screens that could be covered with storm windows. Later they were glassed in and used as entrance porches. Some of them are as big as 4' X 12' and already have power to them. They can be insulated underneath and a new interior added. Then, when the space is finished, the wall can be taken out. The other advantage is that there is no roof line to change.
Deck: A deck is really a structure without the walls and ceiling. Adding these is just like framing a shed and can be done in stages. For example, in the srping of the year you can build the walls and roof, close them in with plywood and use the area as an enclosed deck for the summer. In the fall you can put the windows in, insulate the place and get heat in there. You will have the whole winter for the interior finishing and you can side it the next year. This way of doing the job in stages is easy on the mess, your back and the budget.
For many people a garage is just a place to have the car but others use it as a junk place. For ths in the latter category a careful and ruthless cleaning out of the garage will reveal a gem of a space complete with water, electrical and heat. This is probably the easiest place to gain space because in almost all cases it is all finished off.
Garage Reno: The floor is usually smooth cement so flooring is easy to put down. You may need some extra piping for a bathroom and kitchen but the sewer lines can run into the main system.
Detached Garage: A large detached or semi-detached garage can yield valuable space upstairs in the attic. This can be accessed by building outdoor steps. Plumbing would have to be run to a detached garage and the electrical beefed up because the main panel would not be close. The best thing about this idea is that you still have a place below to store you vehicle.
For those who like the outdoor life building a large patio can not only improve this part of your life but also gain usable space. The new patio is decked out just like the living room only outdoors. Some have large, over-stuffed furniture and the fireplace like the interior of the home and also a kitchenette with ovens and a fridge. For those in the northern areas the warmth from the fireplace gains extra months on each side of the summer season.
The other choice is merging rooms which can work well if there is a utility closet next to the bathroom that can be taken out and added to the bathroom space. Small bedrooms can also be joined but the value of the home may go down because of this even though the new bedroom is large.