Whether it’s a modest bump-out or an entire second story, a new home addition adds value and transforms the way an older house looks, feels and functions. At the top of local homeowners’ wish lists are new kitchens, family rooms, screen porches, and master suites with ample walk-in closets. Remodeling is an investment, and people are paying careful attention to the details, emphasizing quality as much as quantity.
“My impression is that clients are scaling down additions and trying to use their money more efficiently,” says George Papaheraklis, the founder of FineCraft Contractors in Gaithersburg. He’s seeing a shift toward reducing the square footage of additions and allocating part of the budget to upgrading the existing house in order to minimize the contrast between old and new. “Bringing the details and finishes up to the same level as the addition is especially important in open floor plans,” he says. “It helps to create a seamless transition.”
It’s All Relative
Family ties are very important to Christina Bucsa. When she, her husband, Dan, and their three small children moved back to her native Rockville from Hoboken, New Jersey, to be near her close-knit Greek family, her cousin Chris Georgatsos was their real estate agent. A few years later, when it was time to renovate the house, she enlisted Lou Balodemas, also a first cousin and the owner of Balodemas Architects in Washington, D.C.
The Bucsas chose Rockville’s Fallsmead community for its proximity to public schools, a pool and a park. The two-story colonial was a good value and had potential, but it had been a rental since it was built in 1973, so there was a lot of wear and tear, and no improvements had been made. The first-floor circulation was poor, and the small kitchen was congested. “The door from the garage collided with the refrigerator door,” Dan says. “And there was no space for a fifth chair at the breakfast table.”
Balodemas and FineCraft Contractors teamed up to transform the first floor by moving the powder room to create a center hall passageway, and added a 10½-foot-deep by 42-foot-wide single-story addition across the back of the house. That allowed for an expanded kitchen and informal dining space, a new walk-in pantry, a powder room, and a mudroom that’s just around the corner from the kitchen, so coats, shoes and laundry are close at hand but out of sight.
The Bucsas were careful to only add square footage that they really needed. “It was partly the dollars, but we also didn’t want to impact the backyard,” says Dan, who has worked hard on the landscaping and patio. They also plan to live there for many years, and wanted a house of a manageable size that will be easy to care for after the kids leave the nest.
Now there is plenty of space for the Bucsas to celebrate Greek Easter, feasting on lamb with Chris, Lou and more than 30 other cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The adults gather in the formal dining room, and the kids hang out in the informal areas or in the backyard, hunting for eggs or playing basketball. “Working with family was good,” Dan says. “It was very comfortable, we could be candid and we knew they were looking out for our best interests.”