Home “Suite” Home Additions

February 2016:

With first floor additions, making it a suite promotes harmony with in-laws, grown children or nannies. Just make sure your addition maximizes functionality and privacy.

Home additions have always been a smart way to correct shortcomings: bringing the number of bedrooms or bathrooms up to par, expanding a cramped kitchen, creating a formal dining room, or adding a family room.  Now, however, more and more homeowners want to add on to homes that already seem to have everything. The reason? They want a private suite right there on the main floor.

Sometimes the motivation for remodeling is to create a spacious master bedroom suite that gives the home practical, accessible, one-floor livability. Other times, the addition is designed as more of a mini apartment – perfect for in-laws, returning college students, an au pair or a live-in nanny. In fact, with more multi-generational families in one home, first floor additions can offer a “suite” solution to the need not just for more space, but for more private space.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of this type of home addition, the creative possibilities are exciting! But there are some challenges when you add on private space right next to public spaces such as the kitchen or family room. The best way to meet these challenges is to think through how the new space will work.

Here are questions to discuss when considering first floor additions:

1. Will there be a separate entrance? If you’re building a master bedroom/bathroom suite, first floor additions probably don’t need a separate entrance – though you might want to create access to an outdoor area such as a private patio. If the suite is for someone other than you, however, a separate entry could be an important feature. This would offer in-laws a sense of independence or insulate you from the late-hour comings and goings of grown children.

2. What types of functions will the suite serve? What‘s needed beyond a bedroom and bathroom? You may want to include a cozy sitting room or dressing room as part of your master suite. For a more stand-alone home addition, the suite might feature space for watching TV, listening to music, doing laundry, eating and even entertaining friends. This multipurpose space enables the suite’s residents to be on their own or to interact with the rest of the family.

3. Does the suite need a kitchenette? Including one helps avoid squabbles over fridge space, messy sinks or “rush hour” traffic in the main kitchen. It’s also a good way to provide independence and keep different food preferences and eating schedules from causing friction. If a kitchenette makes sense, also consider how your home addition can accommodate a dining area.

4. What about privacy?  Preserving privacy is very important for maintaining harmony in the household. You don’t want your master suite oasis to be ruined by the blare of the family room TV on the other side of the wall. Nor do you want the residents of an apartment-style suite to overhear conversations in the other parts of the house. Ask us about sound-proofing strategies such as insulation, built-in cabinetry, and carpeting, or using a hall or closet as an extra buffer zone.

5. What code restrictions apply to home additions? Besides the normal code and zoning requirements such as setbacks, etc., some communities discourage homeowners from renting out in-home apartments to non-related family members or using a suite as a place of business. We are familiar with code restrictions and can advise you about how they will affect the use and design of your addition.

If you’d like to take look at some “suite” possibilities for your own home addition, give us a call!

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