Photo by Chad Jones

Update: There are a number of reasons you might want an extra family room. If you’ve got young children it’s a good idea to have an informal space where you won’t feel embarrassed by visitors having to step over toys and games consoles when they visit! Separating formal and informal living spaces is a great way to make your house work better for you. But there are a number of things to consider, such as cost, accessibility and space concerns.

Has your family outgrown the space in your home? Are you unhappy with your first-floor layout because you don’t have a secluded family space? Are you embarrassed when guests have to pick their way between the toys on the floor or climb over toys to find a place to sit? Would you love to have a formal living room that isn’t cluttered with toys and homework and computer games? Then maybe a family room addition is right for you.

Adding a family room to your home can create the perfect space for your family to actually live in. Family room additions generally are not clearly visible the moment a guest walks through the front door. They provide extra space that you can define and redefine as the needs of your family change. It is also worth considering the increase in the value of your home that would result from adding a centrally heated and cooled living space.

Most people who look at homes prefer a first-floor family room. A first floor location makes the space more accessible, easier to monitor, and more functional. According to Remodeling Magazine’s latest cost/value estimate, you can expect (on average) to recoup about 83% of the cost of the addition when you sell your house. This estimate can vary from one location to another, so it is a good idea to check on the local estimates.

First steps in planning your family room addition should include:

  • Assess the property (grade, easements, etc) and determine where you will build your family room addition RemodelOrMove.com: 101 Ways to Save Money When by by Dan Fritschen
  • Consider access to the new family room. If you place the addition in a particular location, how will it connect to the existing structure? What changes to the existing structure will be necessary to provide access to the new family room?
  • What changes to the existing structure will be necessary to provide access? How will this affect the functionality of the existing space?
  • If your home is on a sloped lot, how much will you need to “build up” the foundation to position the new space on the same level as the existing structure?
  • If you must “build up” how will you use the space under the new room? Is this a good space for storage? Is it something that can be finished into another usable space? Is it a place to store lawn and gardening equipment and supplies, or bicycles and other outdoor items?
  • What is the appropriate size of the new family room? You will want to consider not only your space needs, but also the size of the existing structure. Proportion is important, especially when considering resale value. You will need to determine the size and scale that fits and complements the existing home. Don’t make it so large that it overwhelms the house or so small that it doesn’t acent the rest of the house.
  • What kind of roofline will fit into the existing roof? What kinds of roofing materials are indicated in order to match the rest of the house?
  • How will the exterior walls match or complement the rest of the exterior of the house?
  • What kind of windows and doors are appropriate in order to make the addition look like it has always been part of the house?
  • Is this an opportunity to build your addition in a way that improves the energy efficiency of your home? Should you add skylights or solar panels?
  • What is required by local building codes? Are there restrictions on the size of the addition or the materials that can be used?

Next, create your checklist of tasks and note who will perform each stage of the construction.

  • Adding a family room will almost certainly require some demolition of all or part of an existing exterior wall.
  • Will your new addition have a crawl space beneath it, or will it be built on a concrete slab? Will you utilize the space beneath the family room in some way?
  • Who will construct the foundation?
  • Who will construct the framing?
  • Who will do the roofing?
  • Who will construct exterior walls?
  • Who will install electricity, heating/cooling, plumbing (if included)?
  • What kind of walls will you have? Who will hang drywall or paneling?
  • Who will install windows and doors?
  • What kind of walls will you have? Who will hang drywall or paneling?
  • Who will install windows and doors?
  • What kind of ceiling will you have? Will it be drywall or a drop ceiling? Who will install it?
  • What kind of floor covering will you use? Will it be carpet, vinyl, hardwood, or tile? Who will install it?
  • Will you have built-in shelves or cabinets? Who will build them?
  • Will the room have a fireplace? Will it require a gas line for gas logs or a gas starter?
  • Who will install lighting fixtures?
  • Who will paint or hang wallpaper?

You will need to create a schedule for construction of your family room addition that blends with your family.s schedule. A family room addition is not a weekend project. Removing walls and installing wiring, duct work and drywall will be messy. I twill be important to try to do the work at a time that is least disruptive for your family.

Think about room design and decoration carefully. You might want to position your family room as an extension of your kitchen. If so, you will need to consider how the two rooms will function as a unity. If your entire home has traditional 8 foot ceilings, you may not want to build a family room with an extremely high ceiling. Considering the way the new room blends with the rest of the house is important. Consider how the placement of windows and doors impacts the flow and appearance of the entire house, both externally and internally.

Finally, plan to make your new family room both comfortable and functional for your family. Consider both immediate needs and space usage and long-term needs and usage. This may help you determine which, if any, items (such as cabinets and bookshelves) should be built into the room and which will serve only temporary needs.

By thinking through both short-term and long-term needs, planning for the interior and exterior blending with the rest of your house, and remaining consistent with the style of the existing structure, you can create a fabulous new living space with a family room addition. While you enhance your family.s lifestyle, you will also increase the resale value of your home.