Quality Remodeling Blog


Deciding Whether to Build Up or Out

Homeowners who decide that it is time to expand the square footage of their homes have one of two options: to build out or to build up. Plenty goes into making this decision like the overall vision for the home, and what the allotted space permits. Keep these pros and cons in mind when deciding whether to build up or out.

Building Out

Many homeowners choose to expand upon the land and build out. This allows them to add to the first floor of their home as it is the logical place for many additions including family rooms, and kitchens. It also transforms formerly unoccupied square footage into living space for residents and guests to enjoy.

The Process

While every situation is unique, one usually employs a backhoe to dig up the earth where the addition is to go. Next, construction workers pour a new foundation before contractors build the addition to the home. The last step is opening up the new space to the existing space through the use of doors and hallways.

Pros of Building Out

The primary advantage of building out is that the current living space remains accessible throughout the construction process. If the addition is small, then the homeowner may be able to add the addition without pouring any new foundation at all.

Cons of Building Out

Ground-level expansions often require the owner to get a zoning variance from the city. Most Chicago homeowners will find that they must build at least 50 feet from their neighbor’s property. Homeowners in planned communities may face additional rules. Many individuals who live around Lake Michigan and other flood-prone areas may face even more restrictions. Chicago’s floor-area ratio can also limit how far out one can build. Depending on the architectural style of the home, it may be against the law to expand the home’s footprint.

Building Up

Homeowners choosing to build up have a variety of choices. Some decide to add another story, while others add dormers. There is also the option to add a room above an occupied space like the garage or expand upon a sunroom that is currently shorter than the rest of the house.

The Process

The first step in building up is to make the existing foundation and walls stronger. Homeowners need to consider the weight they intend to add on to the current structure before going up to prevent dangerous structure collapses.

Pros of Building Up

Usually, homeowners will not encounter any zoning problems from the city when building up. Often homeowners who choose to build out have to wait more than 70 days to have their permits approved, so those who wish to build up can avoid delays.

Cons of Building Up

Depending on where the house is located in Chicago, homeowners may face restrictions on how high they can go up. The home’s existing structure must be to be torn up as the foundation and walls are made stronger. There must also be construction work on plumbing and electrical systems. Those who build up will also need to add a stairwell which can potentially take up to 120 square feet of ground floor living space.

Are you considering adding another level to your home or expanding upon your one level home? Allow the remodeling experts at Quality Remodeling to bring your vision of a beautifully remodeled Chicago home to life. Contact us today to discuss your home remodeling needs.

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