Are Residential Additions the Future of Home Building?

Rear, front and side extensions, annexes, rooftop and basement additions and new ancillary structures are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Nidhi Upadhyaya Nidhi Upadhyaya

The judging process for Architizer's 12th Annual A+Awards is now away. Subscribe to our Awards Newsletter to receive updates about Public Voting, and stay tuned for winners announcements later this spring.   

If there is one thing the past year has taught us, it is that our requirements from a home can change any minute. Thousands of people had to shift to working from home during the pandemic, and home offices became a hot topic of discussion. Most people had not planned for this sudden shift and had to find innovative ways to carve a working space that was quiet and Zoom-friendly.

But home offices are just one such example. Changes in lifestyles, family additions, career switches or even a new hobby can change our daily spatial needs. This could be anything from a small terrace greenhouse to a large shed for glassblowing or pottery. To acknowledge the art of residential additions and their importance to sustainable urban growth, Architizer is proud to feature a unique typology category in the 11th Annual A+Awards: Residential Renovations & Additions.

Enter the 11th Annual A+Awards

This category honors the best global projects that include additions or extensions to existing residential buildings. This may include rear, front or side extensions, annexes, rooftop additions, basement additions or the addition of a separate building, such as a pool pavilion, backyard office, studio or shed.

While one might try to break down a few walls or erect new ones within the home’s current boundaries, those are not always an option. Limited floor area, structural framework or ventilation and circulation patterns might restrict homeowners from reconfiguring spaces within their houses and apartments, resulting in creative architectural solutions.

There can be three ways to look at the problem — moving to a new home, building a new house or creating an extension/addition to the current one. And several factors could affect this decision. How much space do you need? What is your budget? Do you live in an apartment or a house? Are there structural constraints? Does your current home have sentimental value? Are you very attached to your neighbors or the neighborhood?

Home extensions can take place in multiple ways. It could be raising a roof, adding a patio, extending a current room or even creating a disconnected pool house or garden shed. If the plot boundaries allow it, an entertaining area with a hot tub could be a delightful way to extend space or separate social areas. The space can also be used to create a private office and studio. These can also be inserts to add light in living areas or to create a large library. Stacking is a good alternative for times when the site area is limited.

Eichler Front Addition by Klopf Architecture, Palo Alto, CA, United States

Such changes must be done in close collaboration with structural engineers and construction agencies to ensure that the structural system of the current house can handle these additions without compromising its integrity in any way. And if nothing else works, collapsible canopies or partitions can section out corners in the yard for special events.

More often than not, residential additions are significantly cheaper than new builds or moving homes altogether. Another advantage of residential additions is the freedom to customize them. They can either blend in with the current home or stand out and create a new identity for the house, which is exemplified by the Sleeping House Addition. Homeowners have the choice of using a new design language and creating a space that is tailored to their standards and purposes, something that might not have been an option while purchasing the home.

Sleeping House Addition by A-Gruppo Architects, San Marcos, TX, United States

However, like everything, there are a few downsides to home additions to consider as well. Having to live in a home with ongoing construction is not easy, especially if you have children or family members with disabilities or medical conditions. Construction at any scale is a physically, emotionally and financially straining endeavor. In the longer run, an addition could also impact the resale value of the home.

Despite these important considerations, residential additions could well become the future of home construction. Not only are the hassles that come with extensions multiplied if one looks at building a new home, but as sustainability comes to the fore of the AEC construction industry, more and more architects are getting involved in adaptive reuse and renovation projects. As the former president of the American Institute of Architects Carl Elefante famously said, “The greenest building is the one that is already built.”  Moreover, an extension is not only more environmentally-friendly when compared to demolishing a house and erecting a new one in its place, it is often more wallet-friendly too.

Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that the percentage of homeowners is decreasing as years go by. With increasing land rates and unstable economic patterns, purchasing new homes to accommodate drastic life changes can be extremely difficult. So, we might see more and more families opt for extensions in the coming years.

Pictured at top: ISSY Extension by SKP Architecture, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Do you have a notable residential renovation or addition? Consider entering it in The 11th Annual A+Awards. With an Early Entry Deadline of November 4th, 2022, there’s no time waste — get started on your submission today:

Start My Submission

Nidhi Upadhyaya Author: Nidhi Upadhyaya
Nidhi Upadhyaya is an architect and journalist from Mumbai, India. When not working, she can be found binging on DIY videos, experimenting with art mediums or making a dent in her large to-read list. She has previously worked as Features Writer for Elle Decor India, Assistant Editor for India Inc, Art Director for the print edition of Bombay Binge and is currently the Editorial Assistant at TED-Ed in New York.
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