Extended families are common Africa, Latin American countries, and South Asian countries. In the Philippines, for instance, a strong family tie is a significant part of the Filipinos’ culture. Since family members are greatly attached to each other, moving out of the parent’s nest even after getting married or having children is not easy. Some Filipino families live in one compound where they can visit their second-degree relatives by foot while some live under one roof. This trait is also part of Mexicans’ culture, where multi-generational families fit themselves together in one house.
Having a large family in one home is never a problem if members are working together in harmony. In fact, it’s a very good practice since the elders can bond with the young and educate them firsthand. As Barbara Bush once said, “togetherness is a very important ingredient to family life.”
The challenge in this kind of setting, however, is the lack of space. The small children tend to share rooms, with mattresses laid on floors every bedtime. The number of bathrooms cannot accompany all of the members at the same time during “rush hour”. The dining room is made only for 10 people, making the rest sit in front of the TV during mealtime. If you can relate to this dilemma, maybe it’s time to think about investing on home reconstruction. Moving out is not an option.
Extending your Home
Building out or building up? This is the first question. Building out means extending your home horizontally by filling up the spaces that could’ve been used for gardens and backyards with walls, floors, and ceilings. In building out, the contractor will excavate the area where your addition will sit and install a new foundation. The walls and roofs will then be constructed to the extension, then the existing exterior wall will be opened to link the new and old spaces. If climbing stairs are not your thing and you love the simplicity of bungalow houses, building out may be perfect for you.
Building up, as its name suggests, is extending the home vertically, creating more stories. Unlike building out, you don’t have to give up a portion of your yard but a couple of excavating procedures still needs to be done. To ensure the stability of the foundation, the contractor will likely beef up the existing foundation and wall structure underneath the new space to ensure the support of the added weight. With building up, a small lot area is not a hindrance to a larger home.
Building extensions is not as easy as building a lego house. It takes a lot of risks and sacrifices so make sure you hire professional contractors.
If you don’t want to pay more and take a lot of risks in reconstructing your home, having a bump-out might sound interesting for you. Bump-outs are small additions to a room that usually project a maximum of 3 feet from the house and stretch to 12 feet long. They may be small but they are of big help if you need a larger space for another bed, a small shower room, or an extension to your small kitchen.
The good thing with bump-outs is they are clever and affordable solutions. You can save about 15 percent compared to conventional addition and you don’t have to worry about the foundation work and roof work.
Repurposing your Rooms
If exerting efforts in extending your home sound awful for you, maybe you can make your space bigger by repurposing your rooms. Do you have a dusty attic dwelled only by insects? Or a garage that has been resting for months? Or a secret hideout under your staircase? These abandoned rooms may be transformed into a bedroom for the kids, a small bathroom, or a home office.
Repurposing your rooms are definitely cheaper and easier than building an extension. All you need are a little can of paint, a few building materials, and an unlimited supply of creativity and skill. If you happen to have a large, open area, or rooms that are too spacious for one person, you may consider adding dividers, walls, and doors. You may also put in temporary, detachable dividers composed of wood, vinyl, and fabric to avoid hurting your structure.
Building a secondary suite or “granny flat”
Your home is not just a structure, but a precious inheritance that stood the test of time. With this, you might not commit to the idea of wrecking the walls or altering the design of your family’s century-old home. Instead of moving out to another place, you may still keep your families intact by having a secondary suite or “granny flats.” These small living areas can either be built attached to the main house or can be a separate structure.
As its name suggests, granny flats are originally built to accommodate aging family members but this does not mean that they are only limited to your grandparents. Since they are self-contained living areas that have bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and bedrooms, you may have them to serve as a dwelling place for a small family. Compared to a conventional house, building granny flats are more cost-efficient.
Don’t let lack of space be a hindrace to the closeness of your family. The sound of wrecking, sawing, excavating, drilling, and hammering may be unpleasant for a daily soundtrack but these will all be worth it once you see that your big family is having a great time spending quality moments with each other under one roof.
A wordsmith by profession and a designer by heart, Carmina Natividad devotes most of her time seeking fresh ideas about architecture and interior design. She feeds her passion by regularly writing for Home Plus One – Granny Flats, a construction company consisting of a great team of builders, architects, and tradies that specializes in building cost-efficient and high-quality granny flats in Sydney.