Here’s the story, of a lovely lady….

If you’re of a certain age you know the rest.

A lovely lady bringing up three very lovely girls meets a man busy with three boys of his own, and everyone lives happily ever after (except for the time Peter accidentally drills Marcia in the nose with a football right before her big date).

At Case, we’re seeing more and more of something we’ve dubbed the “Brady Bunch Phenomenon:” space issues arising when new couples bring children from previous relationships together under one roof. The Bradys made it look so fun and easy because such complications were swept under the rug in TV-Land. After all, Greg turned the attic into a pretty cool bachelor pad with some groovy beads and funky mood lighting. In the real world, however, privacy and elbow room are at a premium, especially for kids who haven’t learned how to live together from day one.

Before making any drastic design decisions we like to sit down with our Brady Bunch families and get a little more information. Cases where young children are still living at home call for more creativity than situations where they’re either in college or out of the house entirely, and, as a result, not home as much.

In both circumstances, there are a few overriding principles to keep in mind:

To Build or Not To Build?

At a bare minimum, any exterior addition that accomplishes everything necessary to justify the time and investment is going to cost roughly $75,000 to $100,000. You can finish existing space within the house, i.e., a basement, attic or garage, for half that.

Bedroom Space

Easily the number one issue in our Very Brady scenario. If the kids are young, maybe the attic can be turned into a bunkhouse with the addition of a few walls. Converting part of the basement is an option, especially if there’s already a bathroom available. It’s important to note that bedrooms must meet certain requirements before they can officially be called bedrooms:

  • Every basement bedroom must have at least two means of egress, either a window or a door, and one of those must lead directly outside the house.
  • Every bedroom must have a permanent closet (sorry, an armoire doesn’t count).
  • Most zoning codes have a minimum square footage requirement for bedrooms, so do a little research before putting up drywall.

Think Ahead

Everything you do to your house affects its resale value. Don’t settle for a quick fix that just “makes it work.” What seems like a good idea to you might not appeal to potential buyers. Adding a second-floor bedroom or bathroom is always a good investment; with a few exceptions. One common misstep is a scenario where a child has his/her own bedroom but must pass through a sibling’s bedroom to get to it. Aside from the resale implications, if you think your kids bicker now, wait until territoriality and traffic complaints set in.

Is It Worth It?

How permanent is your current living situation? Will the kids be out of the house soon? Is it possible to make do until things change? Also, remember that any project isn’t just going to be financially costly. During construction, everyone is going to have even less space to live in and might even need to find temporary living quarters for some or all of the duration.

The Best Approach

Start by working within your existing space – it’s the most cost-effective solution. If building a new space is your only option, weigh the economics and logistics of adding square footage before tearing down the walls. For some homeowners, it’s less expensive to fix up a newer, bigger house than it is to retrofit a smaller house.

So, if, like the Bradys your group has somehow formed a family, but the head of the house isn’t an architect, why not see if Case Design/Remodeling, Inc. can help ease your bunch into the transition?

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