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Add a family room to your home

A guide to planning and installing a family room in your existing home

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As your family grows, your starter home may seem to shrink. After adding a child or two, there just doesn't seem to be enough space for everyone and everything. A good way to add space to your existing home is the addition of a family room.

Where you locate your new family room will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • family room additionFunction: When your children are small, a family room that is close to the kitchen makes it easier for family members to interact. A family room that connects the kitchen to the outdoors is also great for entertaining.
    • Older children appreciate a more private place separate from the rest of the house for entertaining their friends.
    • A separate retreat can be a place where parents unwind and relax.

  • Costs: It is more expensive to add to your home than to renovate interior space.  

  • Bylaws: If you want to add on, you will need to ensure that the new footprint of your house doesn't encroach on legal property line setbacks or height restrictions.

If you choose to add on to your home, you will most likely add the new family room beside the kitchen or dining room. Only rarely do families choose to add a family room by putting another level to their house. This typically happens when a really small house is expanded up to provide a number of new rooms, including a new family room.

Changing the layout of your existing space may provide a family room without having to add on. Sometimes an existing living room can be expanded and opened up to the kitchen/dining area to create the family room. Many families choose to renovate their basement and put the family room there.

Before you start knocking down walls you should have a detailed plan, including the cost, in place. Steps to take:

  • Look for design ideas you want to include in your family room. Design magazines are a great source of ideas, as are model homes.

  • Get a floor plan that incorporates the new room and all the changes to adjacent rooms.
    • This stage is particularly important to determine whether your new room will be big enough to function the way you want.
    • The floor plans will show how changes will affect the traffic flow in the rest of the house.

  • Price out materials so that you have a good sense of what design elements you can afford to include, and what can be eliminated if necessary.

  • Assuming you don't plan to do the renovation work yourself, contact several contractors and get written estimates. Reply! can provide you with a list of qualified contractors in your area.

  • Get a building permit. You might be tempted to avoid this step in order to save money, but you'll be glad you did when it comes time to sell your home.
    • Resale value will be higher if you can show that all renovations were done to building code standards.

No matter how you decide to proceed, after the work is done you will have a much more functional home where your family can spread out in comfort and style. The addition of a family room will allow you to stay in your home longer, and add to its value when you sell.

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