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In New York, adding square footage to your home is not always possible, especially in the city. But, if you find yourself with a decent lot size or the ability to build upwards, expanding your house might be something you’re interested in doing.


Before breaking down walls, here are 4 tips for building an addition to your New York home.

Determine the Size and Location Based on Property Lines

Figuring out where your property lines is the most important thing to do, because this will dictate where you can actually build. If you don’t know where they are, you can typically visit a local NY county recorder or assessor’s office to view public maps of your neighborhood which will include the property lines.


Once you know where your boundaries are and how close the structure of your house can get to a boundary line, you can begin to think through the physical size and location of your add-on. Some things to consider are:

  • What will the space be used for?
  • How many people will likely be in the additional space at once?
  • Will it connect to the rest of the house or will it stand alone?
  • Will the rest of the surrounding property still be functional?


In New York, you might also be considering building upwards rather than outwards, since your lot size might not be big enough to go outwards. If that’s the case, be sure your house is inspected for any structural concerns before you get going with design plans.


Create the Design

Now comes the fun part – envisioning and designing what the additional space looks like! In general, the style should cohesively work with the rest of your house so everything flows together nicely. If you’re not sure what you want the addition to look like, browse online for inspiration or even check out open houses.


However, if you were inspired by a certain building design or floor plan you saw in person or online, be careful! Make sure to do some research to determine whether or not that design is patented or copyrighted. You can also connect with a New York patent attorney to double check whether or not the design you have in mind is okay to proceed with and isn’t copyrighted or design patented.


If you also pull your interior design plans directly from a website or another company (regardless of whether or not they reside in New York), those could also potentially be patented. As a rule of thumb, if you’re taking designs from another source, check with a lawyer who specializes in patents and copyrights to make sure everything is okay to use.


Look for a Local Contractor

It’s really important to hire a professional NY contractor, because they will ensure that the addition is up to code for New York.


If you try to save money by hiring friends or acquaintances that claim to be DIY pros, you might end up with a room that’s not up to code. This could result in you being issued a violation from the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, which you will then have to correct (meaning you’ll need to tear down some/ all of the add-on and fix it).


Rather than running the risk of an unpermitted space or something that isn’t up to code, it’s better to do it right the first time and hire pros who are reputable and will get the job done legally.


Increase the Home’s Value

Home additions can be pricey, so make sure you are actually increasing your house’s value. Even if you are not planning to move, there may come a time when it makes sense to put the home up for sale.


When this happens, you want to see that your home value increased due to the add-on you did. At the very least, you don’t want to be losing money with the addition and you would want to be breaking even.


Final Thoughts

Taking time to determine what the right addition to your house is can transform it into an even better property that’s worth more money. Do your research on building restrictions, design copyrights, and reputable local contractors so that you can ensure your space is built properly the first time.