You’re probably here because your home isn’t working for you anymore, but you’d prefer not to sell and move. If so, consider making your old house work for you again by updating its floor plan. — This can be a feasible way to transform the outdated dwelling to the kind of home you will love! 😉
If are in the process of exploring floor plan change possibilities, then consider the following scenarios:
- Maybe you need more bedrooms and another bath, possibly a two-story addition that solves all your home’s shortcomings
- A more open plan might suit your lifestyle, or you may want to create smaller spaces with a specific purpose in mind
- Maybe that kitchen is just too small for your culinary ambitions or that bonus room is too big to be of practical benefit
- Perhaps you’re planning ahead to provide a place for an aging relative to live nearby, and an apartment addition would be the solution
What you can expect from this guide:
This guide covers major floor plan changes, home layout ideas and home extension and addition projects popular with homeowners. You will also learn about floor plan change costs and important issues to consider before undertaking such a major home remodeling project.
Make Sure You Get the Structure Right
Before we get started, remember that it’s important to think through exactly:
- What’s wrong with your current home’s layout or space limitations
- What the solution is
- Whether the solution requires a change in the existing floor plan, an addition to your home or both
Avoid Superficial Design Distractions: Choices concerning design style, colors, furniture and accessories are secondary and can wait. As you browse Pinterest and other home remodeling sites for home addition and floor plan ideas, don’t get wowed by the superficial.
Did you know? One of the most common reasons for remodeling project delays and cost overruns is homeowners changing their mind about the kind of upgrade they want in the middle of the project.
Stay laser-focused on how your updated space will be used and whether it will solve your current layout and space limitations and challenges. — That’s what ultimately will determine if your floor plan change and/or addition fulfills your purposes – its structure. Finishing the updated space to suit your style is the easy part, and you’ll want to change it over time. The structure won’t change – not without major headaches and additional costs.
Top 5 Floor Plan Change Options without an Addition
You’re likely thinking about one of the options explored below, perhaps a combination of them. Before we get to them, here’s how we’ve laid out the information in this guide:
- Floor plan changes within the confines of your existing home are discussed with considerations to address
- The cost of changing a floor plan for each project is given along with its ROI – the percentage of the cost you would likely recoup if selling the home.
- After exploring changing the floor plan within the existing structure, the conversation turns to home additions as the means to achieving your home floor plan change goal, along with their considerations, costs and returns.
Let’s explore ways to tailor your home to be a better fit!
Opening up the Floor Plan
This is a top home remodeling option for older homes with a floor plan segmented into many small rooms, a style some say originated when each room needed its own heat sources, while others say it was the philosophy that each room should have its own purpose. Either way, a closed floor plan is no longer necessary nor, for many, is it desirable.
An open floor plan creates a spacious feel. It enhances a family’s interaction and communication and is a much better layout for entertaining. Open-concept homes take better advantage of natural lighting and offer flexibility in the way space is used.
Considerations for Opening a Floor Plan: To create an open floor plan, one or more walls will have to go – perhaps the walls surrounding a formal dining room or those making a kitchen feel cramped and cutoff from where others are interacting. Removing walls to create an open floor plan requires:
- Hiring an architect to determine if the wall or walls are load-bearing walls, and if so, how their loss can be compensated for with one or more beams or beam and pillar combinations
- Getting a permit for changing a load-bearing wall and for any electrical or plumbing work involved in making the change
- A change in flooring, in most cases, since removing the wall will leave bare plywood or O.S.B. behind
Cost of Opening a Floor Plan and expected return: Your costs will be on the low end of the range if all you do is knock out a wall or two, reroute wiring and replace the disrupted flooring. If a load-bearing beam or pillars must be added and if plumbing must be rerouted as part of the project, costs will go up.
- Cost of opening a floor plan: $8-$15 per square foot for the space affected
- ROI/cost recouped for creating an open floor plan: 54% to 60%
While opening the floor plan won’t raise your home’s value as much as other projects, homes with open floor plans are easier to sell. Potential buyers won’t be turned off by the expense they’d face to do the work later.
Creating Small Rooms from Open Space
Maybe your home has a living room that’s roomier than it needs to be, and you’d like to create an office at one end of it. This is a popular fix today when more of us are working from home. Perhaps a formal dining room enclosed from a casual dining area would be the touch of elegance your home needs. A large bedroom might make more sense as two snug bedrooms with loft beds for kids when families are growing or blended. The two-bedroom plan probably won’t work unless the single bedroom is about 18×12 or larger, creating two bedrooms of at least 8.75×12. Children enjoy a snug spot of their own, but any smaller might be too cramped.
Creating a Room to Make Better Use of Your Square Footage: The change can be produced by adding a wall that’s wired for outlets, closets if desired and installing one or more doors before finishing the room. It’s quite easy, but here’s what you need to know:
- If you wire the new walls, and you should to meet code for electrical outlets, you’ll need a permit
- Hire an electrician to determine if a new circuit must be run or if the new wiring can tie into an existing circuit
- It’s not necessary from a structural standpoint to consult an architect
- Depending on where the new wall or walls are located, installing a window might be needed for natural light and is required in bedrooms for egress
Cost of Creating Smaller Rooms from Open Space and Expected Return: The factors in cost will be the length of the walls, whether windows are added and the quality/cost of the materials like flooring, windows and doors installed. If the flooring isn’t changed, and it doesn’t have to be when contractors are skilled and careful, your costs might be lower than shown. If creating an office and you add a separate entrance from outside, then your costs might be slightly higher than projected below. If a load-bearing beam must be installed, add $10+ per square foot.
- Cost of creating rooms: $12-$27 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for creating small rooms: 50%-65%
Creating smaller rooms in living areas (rather than the bedroom area) might turn away buyers eager for an open floor plan. The key to success is making it look natural, blending the new with the old seamlessly.
Making a Master Bedroom
Many young adults have come home for a visit after moving out only to find their old bedroom has become part of a grand suite with a jetted tub right about where their bed once sat! That’s one of many scenarios in which this option makes sense. It’s hard to imagine a home built today not featuring a master bedroom, now also called an owner’s bedroom, but they only became the norm in the ‘80s.
Considerations for Making an Master Bedroom: Using an adjoining bedroom is the most common option when the floor plan, but not the home’s footprint, is being changed. Other options are to reduce the size of an adjoining bedroom to make room for the owner’s suite bathroom, closing off a hallway bath to make it part of the suite and adding a second bath to serve the other bedrooms and using space from an adjoining office, den or living room. Keep these issues in mind:
- You’ll need an architect to ensure that load-bearing walls are compensated for, if removed.
- The advantage of hiring a general contractor rather than hiring the sub-contractors yourself is that a GC has experiencing scheduling contractors to keep the workflow moving smoothly, so the project is finished in a timely manner.
- Pro contractors are recommended, but you can save money by doing work you’re comfortable with.
- Building, electrical, plumbing and possibly mechanical permits will be required.
- When you reduce the number of bedrooms in a home below the average for the neighborhood, it might negatively impact resale value.
Cost of Making a Master Bedroom and Expected Return: Bathroom additions range from plain and functional to very costly and luxurious, so the cost spectrum is wider. Add a walkout deck, walk-in closet with organizers and upscale flooring, and the costs will soar beyond the range below.
- Cost of a master bedroom and bath: $35-$125
- ROI/cost recouped for an owner’s bedroom: 58%-72%
Statistics show that cost-conscious remodeling projects allow owners to recoup a higher percentage of the cost when the house is sold. However, it would be a shame to allow that to keep you from installing the bedroom and bathroom suite you desire, especially if you don’t have moving plans.
Adding a Bathroom
If your quiver of kids is growing and/or you have frequent overnight guests, then an extra bathroom would be a very useful addition. That’s why this is a Top 5 remodeling project.
Considerations for Adding a Bathroom: The nearer to the bedrooms the bath can be, the more functional it will be. However, when that’s not practical, carving it from a laundry room, large bedroom, back hall, back-to-back closets, walk-in closet or storage area can work. You’ll need space at least 4×6 if a shower stall is used, 4×8 if a tub/shower is installed. Also:
- You’ll need the full range of permits.
- Hiring a general contractor with relationships with subcontractors is the fastest way to get the project done, or you can save money by directly hiring the carpenter, plumber, electrician, tile setter, etc.
The Cost of Adding a Bathroom and Expected Return: If the bathroom can tie into the drain and vent stack used by another bathroom, the cost will be lower than if a separate stack and drain must be installed. Also, as noted with master suites, the type of fixtures and other materials are the major cost factors.
- Cost of adding a bathroom: $50-$175 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for adding a bathroom: 65%-72%
Keep your costs down and your ROI up by using mid-range materials rather than upscale everything. And if that sounds dull, then create an elegant bath for the comfort of family and friends! The great thing about home remodeling is that every homeowner has the freedom to create what makes sense to them.
Extending a Kitchen
Picture what will happen in your large kitchen, because it is important that form follow function. Will you regularly “cook up a storm” for large groups of family and friends? Then features like an island with electrical outlets, a prep sink, a second oven or a warmer and a big refrigerator will serve you well.
Is storage space in the rest of your home limited or do you simply prefer to keep all your kitchen “stuff” handy? Then extra cabinets or walk-in pantry should be a high priority. Is your kitchen the hub of activity for your family or when entertaining guests? Then a countertop extending to a peninsula complete with a handful of barstools will get plenty of use.
If you simply want more room for a kitchen table and chairs, then removing a wall and re-doing the flooring might be sufficient.
Considerations for Kitchen Extensions: Since we’re not talking about a kitchen addition outside your home’s current footprint, the room for the larger kitchen must be taken from an adjoining space living room, hallway or first-floor laundry, and the square footage must be used judiciously.
Also consider that:
- You’ll need building, electrical and plumbing permits.
- The removal of a load-bearing wall will require an architect’s design and stamp plus designs for compensation such as a beam or new load-bearing wall in a different location.
- While a larger kitchen is a treat, it shouldn’t be so large it overwhelms adjoining rooms. For example, leave enough of an adjoining dining area so that it isn’t cramped – or take it all and incorporate seating into the design in the form of a breakfast bar, peninsula or bench-lined booth.
Cost of Enlarging a Kitchen and Expected Return: The low end of the cost spectrum covers removing a wall and replacing flooring to get eating space. As you move to the upper end of the spectrum, cost is directly linked to the number and quality of cabinets, countertops and appliances installed. The installation of an island, its size and features, flooring choice and other amenities such as lighting, a new sink and faucet will further affect cost.
- Cost of expanding the kitchen: $35-$300 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for enlarging the kitchen: Up to 80% for a minor remodel; 60%-65% for major kitchen remodeling.
It’s no surprise that you won’t recoup as much of an upscale kitchen remodel as you will a minor or mid-range remodel. If home cooking and baking is important or the kitchen is the hub of activity in your home, spending more to make it what you want it to be is a reasonable decision.
Changing the Floor Plan with an Addition
All the floor plan changes mentioned can be made with an addition. The costs are higher, but the changes bring more space to your home and significantly increase its value. Let’s look at general issues to consider when building an addition. Specific projects, their cost and ROI for each are given below.
General Considerations for Home Additions
- Any home addition should be proportional to the rest of the home, not dominate it.
- The most successful home additions look as if they’ve always been there. For this reason, it makes sense to have an architect draw up plans for a seamless integration.
- A home addition might require submission of a site plan to your local development office, and it will require the appropriate permits: building, electrical, plumbing and mechanical/HVAC
- If you’re part of a homeowner’s association, it’s permission might be required too. Check your bylaws.
- A lateral addition – one that changes your home’s footprint — is ideal for single-story homes and when you want to avoid stairs.
- Lateral expansions require foundation work not necessary with vertical/second-floor additions, so costs are generally higher.
- A vertical expansion – adding a second or upper floor – might be your only option when lot boundaries are narrow. Your local building department can tell you the setbacks for your neighborhood , the distance off the property line any building must be.
- The most cost-effective means of adding maximum space is a two-story addition.
- The addition will need either a separate HVAC system with separate thermostat, such as a ductless mini split system, or the replacement of the existing system with a larger one.
Top 5 Floor Plan Change Options with an Addition
When an addition is an option, your possibilities are greater. Here’s how other homeowners are adding space, comfort and functionality to their home. The costs cover siding and roofing for second-floor additions and excavation, foundation, siding and roofing for lateral additions. The cost of permits, architect fees and other miscellaneous expenses are included.
Adding just a bathroom, perhaps a large luxury bathroom, works well on a single-story home. Since a bathroom isn’t as large as a bedroom or suite, the cost per square foot might be higher.
- Bathroom addition cost: $40,000-$80,000 or $200-$400 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for a bathroom addition: 54%-58%
Major factors in cost will be the quality of the materials you install and whether luxury items like a jetted tub or steam shower are included.
Master Bedroom Addition
An owner’s suite addition works well on single-story and multistory homes.
- Master bedroom addition cost: $65,000-$250,000 or $215-$325 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for an owner’s bedroom addition: 60%-65%
As with a bathroom addition, the quality of the materials will impact cost. A walk-out deck or balcony, skylights, large walk-in closet with an organization system and other amenities move cost to the upper end of the spectrum.
Multiple Bedrooms and a Bathroom Addition
An addition with two or three bedrooms and a bathroom is a popular addition for growing families.
- Multiple bedroom and bathroom addition cost: $140,000-$200,000 or $175-$235 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for a multi-bedroom addition with bath: 65%-72%
The cost per square foot is lower for this type of addition because mid-range materials are used more often than luxury materials.
Living Room/Bonus Room Addition
When a household feels crowded, giving everyone a bit more space with a large living room or bonus room addition is an excellent choice.
- Living room/bonus room addition cost: $95,000-$135,000 or $140-$195 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for a living room or bonus room addition: 68%-73%
The best ROI is achieved when mid-range rather than upscale materials are used. The installation of a fireplace or a large number of windows raises cost and might reduce ROI, but since this room is likely to get lots of use, that might not matter, especially if you don’t plan to move.
The number of multi-generation homes is growing. Additions with a separate entrance offer the blend of interaction and privacy families want. These additions are ideal for occasional visitors too.
- Apartment addition cost: $135,000-$200,000 or $200-$265 per square foot
- ROI/cost recouped for a living room or bonus room addition: 62%-68%
Apartment additions are usually single-story, but large additions with multiple bedrooms might need to be two-story additions to maximize the space.
Let us know what you think!