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Additions: Build Up or Build Out?

Additions: Build Up or Build Out?

You’ve been living in your home for quite a while now, and it’s just too small. You love your neighborhood, school district, and local friends and don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving. Does this sound familiar? This is the story of our clients who have chosen to hire us to build an addition to their home.

Additions are one of our specialties, but can be a big decision for a homeowner. One of our most commonly asked questions is: "Should I build my addition up or out?"

This article will dive into the critical considerations of each option to help you make the right choice for your home. 

Evaluate Your Existing Home

First things first. You’ll need to consider how the new space is going to be used. To do that, discuss what isn’t working in your existing home. Are the bedrooms too small? Do you need an additional bedroom? Do your children have no place to play? Does the shared bathroom lead to people running late in the morning? Is your home too small to have friends and family over? Do you feel like your home is bursting at the seams? Do you need a home office? The list goes on and on. Once you’ve discussed your needs with your design-build remodeler, you can come up with a plan to enhance your home together. 

Some projects flow better as a first-floor project, some better as a second-floor project, but many of them may be interchangeable based on your preference. For example, creating more space for entertaining makes sense to build out, ideally off the kitchen. Let’s dive into what separates the two. 

building up addition, addition built up

Home Addition: Building Up


  • If you have a small lot, building up will not impact your lot lines. Towns have zoning restrictions that only allow a certain percentage of the land to be developed, which you will not have to worry about if you choose to build up. 
  • Building up is perfect for adding bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or a combination of the three. If you already have a two-story home, you may have room to extend the second story over a single-story garage. If you currently have a ranch, you have a large range of possibilities for the second story. 


  • Building up is rather limited by the footprint of the first story. While you can cantilever out slightly past the first story, there are still restrictions. 
  • Building up is more intrusive to your daily lifestyle than building out. 
  • If you are converting a ranch to a two-story home, you will need to account for a stairwell, which has to be accounted for on both the first and second floors. 

building out addition, addition built out

Home Addition: Building Out


  • Building out will require a new foundation to be poured. Typically, we recommend adding a crawl or a basement at this time, as opposed to just a concrete slab. If you’re looking to add some extra storage as a part of your addition, this can be just the right time for it. You can also choose to have your new crawl space or basement connected to an existing lower-level space.
  • Depending on how much space you plan to add on, you may be able to cantilever your addition. Cantilevering the space means extending out the floor joists further than the existing home, allowing you to build an addition out. This model can be more economical than a typical foundation-style addition. 
  • If you plan to live in your home throughout the remodel, this is a less disruptive option to your lifestyle.


  • If your yard is on the smaller side, you may not be willing to lose any more of it by building your addition. 
  • Concrete work can be expensive, especially if you choose to dig out a new basement and connect it to an existing one. 


There are so many considerations when it comes to building an addition. Not only will your wants and needs come into play, but also what your township allows and what is feasibly buildable. 

To start planning your home addition, download the eBook "The Ultimate Step-by-Step Home Renovation Transformation Guide.”