In today's tight housing market, finding a house that fits all your family's needs may not be possible within your price range or time allotted. One solution is to buy a family home with an eye to expanding it to suit your life better.
But in this scenario, what should you look for as you tour houses? Here are 4 things renovators may want to pay attention to when real estate shopping.
If you need to expand, going outward is often the most logical and cost-effective way to do so. But you'll need room to grow. Consider the size and layout of the lot around the home to assess its potential for growth. If the land is sloped or has things like a septic system underneath, you may not be able to utilize it well. Some aspects of the terrain can be changed but such things as property lines and easements aren't so flexible.
The "bones" of the house are the structure and frame. Even if the house needs some cosmetic changes or updating, if it has a good frame — good "bones" — you have much to work with. Some of the features to look for as you want to expand are the solidity of the foundation, good load bearing walls, and utility lines that are in good condition. Before buying a home, have it thoroughly inspected to avoid surprises.
Some architectural styles don't lend themselves to expansion easily. A multi-family structure, for example, will be difficult or impossible to expand beyond the existing exterior walls. And historic style homes, such as Victorian, may look strange with added sections. If needed, you may want to look for a more modern or all-purpose architectural style that will be easy to accommodate.
Make sure you can complete the expansions you want by checking with the local city planning office before purchasing a single family home. If you can't put in a second story, for instance, or expand close to the existing property lines, you want to know as soon as possible. You may still be able to install additions, but you may need to change your plans and this could take time and money.
By looking at these four aspects of any real estate before you buy, you'll be able to look at family homes of different sorts that will be easy to expand and provide all the room your family needs for years to come.