"We are interested in adding on to our one-level (ranch) suburban home - we’d like to add a master suite but keep the 3 existing bedrooms and 1 bathroom. What kinds of things should we consider?"
Answer from Ross Sanders
Dear Amanda and Chris,
This is a question I often I get from remodelers and is one I love to answer.
Your first considerations need to be the overall value of the home and how it fits into your neighborhood. Remember, what you add and how you do it, will affect future resale value. You can talk to a realtor; I have found them to be very helpful when it comes to understanding what size home a neighborhood can support, as well as understanding gentrification of older neighborhoods.
One challenge when adding a new room is making sure you don’t “landlock” any of the preexisting bedrooms. Coding restrictions typically dictate that bedrooms have an exterior window. I also recommend meticulously planning the rooms according to your needs. On a new addition I am currently designing for a client, I was able to convert a preexisting bedroom into a walk-in closet for the master suite as well accommodate a new laundry room. While the latter seems to go against the “don’t move existing equipment” rule, in this case it allows us to enlarge the one small bathroom in the house by moving the laundry out of the bathroom. Additionally, we are moving the unit from an interior room to an exterior wall, making venting that much easier which will help alleviate congestion in the crawlspace where the furnace, laundry and bathroom systems all come together.
One of the most important steps you can take as a homeowner is to gather materials for your architect to review with you. Keep a design file of clippings, images, materials and catalogs showing things you specifically like (and don’t like) so your architect can really see what you are after. Doing this, forces you to think about what you want well in advance of the designer sitting at the table with you. In my experience, a well-prepared client is always more satisfied with the final product.