Sometimes your existing house is just a little too small for what you want to do there. If only there was just another foot or two in that one room. You've talked it over, but you're hesitant to add on as the cost and inconvenience is too great, and you really don't want an "addition" per se. What can you do?
Try a micro-addition. Essentially, this is a small "bump-out" located where you need the space. In some ways, a micro-addition is like a bay window that spans wall to wall and floor to ceiling. And if the addition is cantilevered from the existing structure, it needs no foundation work, saving time and money — and possibly also a mature tree nearby.
From kitchens to bathrooms to family rooms, these kinds of additions can be used just about for anything where just a little more space is needed.
For example, a small, cantilevered micro-addition can house an entertainment center. The 30-inch by 11-foot bump-out in the photo above is one such micro-addition. The benefits of doing this type of room expansion are many, including:
- It was less expensive and less invasive than a larger addition would have been, saving the homeowners time, money and aggravation.
- The room feels much larger and functions much better with all the electronics, speakers, television and cabinetry out of the way. In fact, all of this electronics gear can make even a large room feel small when it’s allowed to infringe upon the space.
Another option is to use a cantilevered micro-addition to increase the size of a master bath — so, for example, you now have room for that spa tub you've always wanted. The important consideration is keeping water pipes out of the cold. By reorganizing the original bathroom and adding a 24-inch by 8-foot cantilevered bump-out, we were able to add just such a tub for a homeowner that had lived in the home for many years without the one thing she really wanted.
Micro-additions are also great ways to add just the right amount of space you’ve always wanted in the kitchen. In this kitchen photo, a 5' x 25' cantilevered micro-addition provided the room needed for this kitchen to have an island. To keep the kitchen light and bright and as there was plenty of storage elsewhere, we eliminated the upper, wall cabinets. Windows from counter to ceiling and wall to wall gives the homeowner the sense that she’s cooking outdoors no matter when.
A cantilevered micro-addition works especially well on all those wood framed neo-Colonials built in the last half of the 20th century.
Though each condition will be unique and you should consult with a qualified professional before undertaking any project such as this, here are some general tips and tricks for building a cantilevered micro-addition.
- The simplest approach is to "sister" new floor joists alongside the existing joists. This can be done with minimal damage to the room below.
- Depending on the roof condition and how the micro-addition is designed, you could end up with a lower ceiling in the added area. This could be a good thing, especially if the added area will be used for a featured element like a spa tub.
- In this generalized sketch, the existing roof slope is continued to the new outside wall. This doesn't have to be the case. There as many ways to design this roof extension as there are types of roofs.
- Using a cantilevered micro-addition to expand a kitchen or bathroom can be a great way to get that extra space to have that spa tub. However, make sure that no water pipes or plumbing lines are installed in an unheated space.
- A cantilevered micro-addition on an existing second floor also can be used to add space to the room below. Rather than supporting such a niche from below, it can be hung from above.
Again, and this can't be stressed too much, make sure to engage a qualified professional before undertaking any project like this, and make sure you adhere to local codes, ordinances and regulations.