Love your home and neighborhood, but running out of space? Consider a home addition.

If your existing house is beginning to feel a little cramped, but you still love your home and your neighborhood, you don’t have to jump to the conclusion that it’s time to make a move. Instead, consider a home addition.

Additions are generally considered major remodeling projects, because they typically involve removing a section of the home’s exterior and then adding new space to it – generally from the ground up. That often means that your contractor will need to dig a new foundation, build exterior walls, and get the new space under roof – all while seamlessly blending it with your existing home.

Any construction project that involves a change in your home’s footprint will typically require approvals – how many and from where depends on the extent of the addition and where your home is located. For example, if you live in a neighborhood with restrictions, you’ll most likely need approval of the project from your neighborhood or homeowner’s association. Depending on your covenants, they may be looking at issues such as whether you are able to add the square footage you want, increase your home’s height and/or width by the amount you desire, and how the new addition will blend with both your home and the community as a whole. You also may have to address any zoning or setback requirements established by your city or county. If you live in an historical district, there likely will be rules about which aspects of your home’s exterior you can and cannot change.

When you are building an addition, you’ll most likely be working with an architect or structural engineer. The best and most effective way to do so is by working with a qualified professional remodeler with a design/build background. He or she will know local requirements about when these professionals are needed and can bring in a professional with whom they have existing relationships, as needed. This will help you avoid the trap of seeing an architect first, falling in love with a plan they design, and then costing it out – only to discover that it’s outside of your budget. Working with a remodeler first is essential because these professionals have firsthand knowledge from the field about what additions typically cost in your area, and they can help establish realistic expectations up front.

Unlike a smaller renovation project that may or may not impact your daily routines, additions generally impact how you live in your home and may even involve your family temporarily moving out. That of course, depends on the extent of the project and where it is located. Bumping out a wall on the first floor to add a new powder room is not nearly as disruptive a process as removing a rear kitchen wall (and all the associated appliances) to double the size of the space.

One thing that many additions impact is your landscaping. Because your contractor will be bringing in heavy equipment to dig and pour foundations, lawn, shrub and tree root damage is common. Again, the extent of that depends on the scale and location of your addition.

Yet it’s important to note that many additions don’t require all of these steps. It’s possible to transform an existing garage or attic into a new addition without changing the footprint of your home, and thus avoiding many of the steps we mentioned above. It’s also possible to bump out a section of a wall to allow interior space to be reconfigured with only minimal changes to the footprint and thus, minimal disruptions to your daily life.

The key to remember when you are considering an addition is whether you love your current home and location and can easily envision remaining there with the changes the addition will bring. If you do, additions can be a very cost-effective solution to gaining the room you need in a space you already love.