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Question DetailsAsked on 12/1/2015

Cost per sq ft for 1,200 sq ft 1-story addition w/ kitchen, 1/2 bath, family room and full bsmt? Philly suburbs PA

Please provide an average price per sq ft cost range for mid-level fittings and hardwood throughout. Unfinished basement.
Utilities can feed off of newer systems in existing portion of house without upgrades required.
What might be the savings by going with a crawlspace or slab on grade foundation instead of a full basement?

Thanks :)

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An architect would be the best person to give you a rough construction cost estimate once a layout has been established - but in your area a VERY rough ballpark would be in the $150-200/SF range, according to a couple of cost estimating guides I use and local homebuilders report from 2014.


You could also call a couple of local builders who do additions and ask them what your locale is running for full-basement and also for slab on grade additions with kitchen and bath - basically an in-law suite or rental apartment addition. Tilghman Builders and Remodeling Concepts are two companies in your area who I know do this type of in-law suite addition, just as examples.


Hard to say what cost savings you could realize - but VERY rough ballpark a full unfinished basement adds about $25-40/SF commonly to the construction cost, with a $10-20/SF gain in house value. A crawlspace, at about half to two-thirds that cost of course adds no value, and a slab on grade (if allowed in your area) adds no value (because it is just the floor for the first level so adds no usable area) at about $5/SF commonly on up to $10/SF for some thjickened edge or fully insulated on-grade foundations in areas like yours with some frost penetration. Your architect could give you better numbers for your area. (Note the square footage numbers are for foundation footprint - NOT the house real estate square footage, which would be different for all but single-story slab on grade construction - so 1200SF in your case.


My general recommendation - unless in an area where water table is high so you are looking at significant water control/dampness issues forever, I recommend full basement to provide cheap ($30-70 ballpark depending on if finished, versus normal $100-200/SF for living space) additional square footage for storage, recreational use, etc.


And of course check out (or discusss with architect for him to find out) planning and zoning regs for your area - whether you can even do it, required design features and setbacks, and whether it is legal for you to have it built/used as an in-law apartment or rental unit and specific entry/egress, parking, square footage, closet, etc requirements for that type of use. You don't want to build it close to but not quite up to in-law or rental apartmetn standards if a little bit more cost will get a certificate of occupancy for those types of use, as it can add significantly to the value of the property come sale time.


One thing to be careful of - overbuilding relative to your area or relative to the value of an older home, because building more house than the general price range in the neighborhood can make it hard to sell and you don't get much of your investment in the addition back; and sinking a lot of money into an older home can be a losing proposition because the oldness drives buyers away and makes them assume a lot of rehab costs (like new plumbing and electrical) on the old portion when they buy, so in many cases on smaller and older homes it is cheaper to buy a house that already has what features you want and sell the old one. This is a really big addition - basically a small house, so I would have a serious talk with a realtor and your architect about whether this size addition is really going to be reasonable relative to the current value of the home and relative to the neighborhood home size, because you might be risking getting little or nothing back on the hundred or two thousand $ investment come time to sell. In fact, might well be hard to get a loan on it too, unless the current house is pretty big.


That brings one more thing to mind, along with possible requirement for garage space depending on local code - if future use as a apartment is a possibility, you might consider the cost differential (including a breezeway or enclosed connector that could be easily removed in the future if looking at this as an in-law suite right now) of making it a totally separate building if your zoning and lot size allow that - would generally add more property value to have it as a separate in-law suite/rental aprtment/servants quarters with garage and totally or at least mostly independent utilities.


Couple of other things came to mind as after-thoughts - since this is looking like an inlaw suitae or apartment, I would definitely go with the a full bath - not much more expensive than a half and allows it to be used as an independent living unit. And if an in-law apartment, consider handicapped accessible features as a contingency - usually not more than 5% or so added cost on new construction. I would also include a utility closet with washer/dryer connections.


Also - if adding a kitchen and dryer connection if providing for electric dryer and/or range, I would bet you WILL need at least an electrical upgrade - and if considering possibility of using it as an apartment (for rent) at LEAST have the wiring run through a central distribution/breaker box that can easily be converted to a second meter connection in the future rather than tapping off your existing breaker box - little more cost, and allows independent power billing in future. Ditto for gas connection - and check local regs on water and sewer connections, if they have to be independent for a rental apartment - if so, again make their tie-ins so they can easily be converted to independent service without digging into/under or having to replumb any of the addition.


And of course - consider HVAC - if needs upgrade, then a separate unit for this pretty large addition might make sense to give it an independent HVAC system - again thinking suitability for rental unit, if applicable.


Answered 3 years ago by LCD




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