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Addition- what do you think of the look?

bclasen's picture


I have some ideas for an addition I want to build on the side of our ranch style house - we need the room and it is too expensive to buy bigger in our neighborhood (which we love). I can build the addition myself (with the exception of plumbing & some electrical) so that part is covered. However what is not clear to me is design. I don't know if what I'm thinking is really creating a Frankenstein or enhances the look of what I'm doing.

My goals here are two fold:

1. Increase the size of the house. Currently the ranch we live in is about 1,000 sq.ft. The addition we plan would be for a dining room / family room on the first floor & a master B/R & study on top.

2. Increase the beauty of the house. This shouldn't be difficult - this house is very plain looking and not at all eye pleasing.

I've attached two files - the first is a picture of the existing structure from the front. The second is something I found online of what I'd like to do. The addition would be to the right - adding lots of space. It would be offset from the exisitng house and be gabled at a different angle. In addition, we could add a long porch to the front of the house, further enhancing the look & adding a nice function (sunny in front).

Any opinions? We are really in the early phases of this - I want to avoid something that just would look right from the exterior.



(post #175931, reply #1 of 8)

Your plan looks good to me. Does your existing house face south? That would be ideal, but not totally necessary.

(post #175931, reply #2 of 8)

Hey Danno,

Thanks for the reply. The house faces SSE, so we get lots of sunshine, perfect for a porch. However I may have to adjust my plans a bit after some measuring. Because of an angled property line, the deeper the porch I have, the narrower the room will be. If I make the porch 4' wide, I can have a 12' addition, if I don't offset the addition (i.e. it is flush with the existing structure), then I have 15' to work with. I'm trying to figure what would be the minimum width of a porch like this - I don't believe I need a ton of room, but wonder if a 4' porch would be too narrow. Any ideas?

Thanks again,

(post #175931, reply #3 of 8)

Don't know if you've ever heard of a book called A Pattern Language, but for many years it was a sort of bible for architects. If I recall correctly, the authors said in there that 6 feet was about the minimum for a porch or balcony. (You want to be able to sit and have people be able to move past you when you are seated.) Four could probably be done, and it probably has been done, but six would be better.

You might try just measuring those two distances out on like the living room floor and put a chair at one mark and see how well four and six feet work for movement. (I would put the chair(s) with their backs four and six feet out from and facing a wall, so you get the idea of how confined a real porch with a railing would be when walking between a chair and the railing.) A ten foot addition may be okay, but twelve would certainly be better--guess you'll have to compromise.

At any rate, I tend to believe even a four foot porch would add a lot in terms of appearance and if nothing else, you can put plants up on it. Just had a crazy and probably undoable idea, but--you know how window seats sometimes bump out from the room they're in? Maybe you could bump in a couple built-in benches in little alcoves to give you the extra room. Just a crazy thought. Depends a lot on what is going on on the other side of the wall inside.

(post #175931, reply #4 of 8)

Great stuff - thanks! I like the idea of the benches - great idea.


(post #175931, reply #6 of 8)

You're welcome. Piko has some good ideas. One thing that would add to the space in the second floor of the addition would be to use a gambrel roof. Some don't like the look; in that case you could use dormers, but they are expensive to do.

(post #175931, reply #7 of 8)

Thanks for the suggestions, it makes sense. Actually I'm starting to research architects - clearly I'm going to need some help!


(post #175931, reply #5 of 8)

Bear in mind tht the 2nd pic is an 'impression' - notice how long it is and out of scale. Get yourself a cheap (or even free downloadable) CAD program that you can scale in your house and get a better idea - based on the actual size of your house. Also, the 'impression' house has an almost unworkable upper floor - it won't give you what you want in useable floor space. I might suggest, since your house is several steps up, a SxS split - that'll keep the scale of the addition down.

I'd finally suggest that you talk with an architectural student from your local U who might give you free or reasonable advice.

ps, I hope you don't have to lose the tree.

All the best...

To those who know - this may be obvious. To those who don't - I hope I've helped.



One of the biggest mistakes I (post #175931, reply #8 of 8)

One of the biggest mistakes I see is that an addition is out of scale/proportion to the original. If you are keeping the original roof line, be very careful w/ a two story addition. It can look like a sore thumb if you aren't careful. The second floor could/should have vaulted ceilings to minimize the overall exterior height. Have you considered how you will do the roof over your porch? Extending an already low sloped roof may be awkward. It may affect the looks of your entry as well. If the two story element is looking too large, also consider pushing that element back instead of pulling it forward.

I noticed an element in your pic ... the huge chimney/wall element. You could use this to your advantage.

My advice if you really love your neighborhood? Plan Plan Plan. Also consider the services of an architect. I've seen so many nice houses ruined by some gaudy eyesore they stick on to it. You've got a cute house to start with. Remember, life is ALL about compromises, don't close your minds to Plan B and Plan C.

Good luck.

There ain't NO free lunch. Not no how, not no where!