The number one project ArcWest is being asked to help clients with right now is expanding living space via a variety of home addition strategies, from popping the top of older homes to building new ADU structures from the ground up. We suppose we have the Covid-19 pandemic to thank for this trend – all this working and schooling from home is driving homeowners and families to rethink home spaces and search for more room to spread out.

In Part 1 of this article series, we discussed a few of the many things to think about when considering adding habitable space to your home or property. Here in Part 2, we explain several options for expanding your living space as well as links to a few real world project examples for inspiration.

Important Note: While we provide different metrics for estimated construction costs in this article, please be aware & understand that today’s construction costs can vary widely due to supply chain and other challenges facing the industry. We encourage you to do your own due diligence and research before committing to a large home addition project. Estimated cost ranges below are from January 2023.

Pop Top Addition

Pop Top is a type of home addition where a second story is built on top of a one-story house. This is an option when there’s not enough room to build outward on a lot. Added living space can be gained via a partial or full second story addition, while maintaining the home’s original footprint. This type of project typically involves significant structural work to support a new story.

Cost range: Construction Cost = $400-450/SF for new building; so a 1,000 SF addition over an existing house will be $450,000 or more. Then factor in the remodel and reconstruction of the main level, the cost will be approximately $150 to $200/SF. Main level reconstruction will be around $200,000. Total cost potential will start at $650,000 to pop the top on an existing 1,000 SF home. The homeowner will need to consider short term housing costs during the construction, as the home will not be suitable to be occupied.

Timeframe range: 16 to 18 months or longer depending on contractor, weather and complexity of the project

Project Examples:

Meade St Sloans Lake Pop Top Transforms Home From Ranch to Tudor

Mt Zion Lookout Mountain Home Pop Top Yields Million Dollar View

33rd Ave Highlands Victorian Pop Top

Main Level Addition

Expanding via a main level addition is an option when you have the space to move outward and increase your home’s footprint. Often our clients are looking to add a new master bedroom, mother-in-law space, home office, or living room/den. This process is a bit less intensive than going up with a new story or digging down in the basement, however it requires allocation of lot space which sometimes isn’t possible under zoning codes.

Cost range: Similar to costs metric outlined above. Single story addition is stand alone, so potentially less impact to the existing home depending on the level of renovation proposed.

Timeframe range: Similar time range described above

Project Examples:

Brentwood St Wheat Ridge Residential Renovation and Addition

Grove St. West Highlands Bungalow Addition & Renovation

Basement Dig-Out

Digging out a basement allows you to go down instead of up or out, enabling you to maintain the same or similar house footprint. This can sometimes be an intense process as it usually involves digging out basement concrete and soil underneath to achieve adequate ceiling height, adding support beams, and shoring up foundational walls.

Cost range: Basement dig out and build out, including entertainment space, bathroom, bedroom and utility will run around $250/SF ($150/SF for the actual dig out and foundation work, and a minimum of $100/SF for build-out and interior finishes).

Timeframe range: 12-month construction / 6 to 9 months for design and permitting

Project Examples:

Zuni St Sunnyside Historic Home Basement Dig-Out Becomes Dynamic Designer Digs

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs have become a popular way to gain space in Metro Denver since several neighborhoods allow this type of construction, and several more are considering it. Adding an ADU typically involves a 2-story structure with a garage on the lower level and an apartment/studio type of space above it. Not all lots or neighborhoods allow ADUs so make sure to check your zoning first.

Cost range: New out of the ground ADU will start around $350k to $400k to construct.

Timeframe range: 12-month construction / 6 to 9 months for design and permitting

Project Examples:

Highlands Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Tejon St Sunnyside ADU Accessory Dwelling Unit

Learn More

If you’re in Denver, Denver’s guidelines for the addition of habitable living space are helpful to explore-

Next Steps

If you think you’re ready to take the next step and engage an architect to help you design your addition, ArcWest Architects can help. With more than 15 years of experience helping clients in Metro Denver design and achieve the homes of their dreams, we can help guide you through every step of the process. Request a consultation today.

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