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Expanding Your Split Level Home with a Sunroom

before and after split level home with a sunroom

In this post you will learn …

  • Terms that apply to split level homes and the unique challenges of split level additions.
  • Practical applications to consider when remodeling split level homes.
  • Split level home addition ideas that add space and update the look of your home.

If you purchased a split level home when you first started out, it probably seemed like plenty of space at the time. Now it might seem too small. You've thought about moving, but decided you’d rather renovate than move. Fortunately, there are some great options for split level home renovations.

The Definition and Challenges of Split Level Living

sunroomsSplit level homes are a popular style that can be found all over the country. A split level home may be a "bi-level" (two levels) or a "tri-level" (three levels). In a bi-level, family room space is typically on the lower level along with a full or partial bath, a laundry/utility area, a guest bedroom and garage with indoor access. The upper level typically contains the living room, kitchen and dining space, master and family bedrooms and bathrooms. In a tri-level home, the entry level generally houses the main living spaces (kitchen, dining, living room), while the bedrooms are on the uppermost level. The laundry, utilities, garage, and spare room are on the basement level. In split level homes, a central stairway typically connects the various levels. In many split level homes, an outdoor stairway is needed to enter the front door, since that level is often significantly above ground level.

Other useful terms for split level homes include sidesplit and backsplit. In a "sidesplit" home, the split level is visible when viewed from the front. A "backsplit" means that the front elevation only shows a single story but two stories are viewable from the back.

While the total square footage of a split level home could be substantial, when the levels of the home are divided, a split level home can feel disjointed and cramped, regardless of the total square footage. Another problem with split level homes is that many of them were built in the 1970s and 80s and have a cramped and dated feel because of the way the space flows - or more likely, doesn't! It may feel as though your main living area is not large enough to accommodate your family comfortably or entertain guests.

Practically Speaking: Expanding your Living Space

sunroomsOne of the best ways to make a split level home more livable is to open it up with additional living space on the main level. Your budget and end goal will determine where you choose to make an addition, as well as the layout and elevation of your home. You should consider where your family will get the most use out of your expansion. It might be the lowest level or perhaps the upper level would provide the greatest benefit. Either way, you will need a licensed remodeling expert, since one option could involve excavating at the ground level and the other could involve building and attaching a properly supported second-level structure. If you have a space in your home that already opens at ground level, such as a sliding patio door off a family room, this is the optimal place for additions to split level homes because fewer architectural and structural changes will be involved.

Why a Sunroom is the Most Advantageous Option

sunroomsA sunroom could be the perfect solution in a split level home addition because it can be used however you wish. Whether it’s an extension of a living room or family room, a dining area with an outdoor view, a home office, or extension of your outdoor living space, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. In addition, the purpose of the space will determine whether you choose a screen room, three season room or an all season room.

A screen room allows you to enjoy the warmer months outdoors without having to worry about the bugs or weather. A three season room is usable spring through fall, while an all season room can be used 365 days of the year, regardless of the weather outside. While an all season room will be a greater investment, you'll also get more use from it. Any of these options will certainly add a great deal of space and value to your home.

Addition Options: How to Add a Sunroom to Your Home

Depending on the layout of your split level home and the existing elevation where you want to add a room, here are options for remodeling split level homes:

  • If a porch already exists,you can simply have the porch enclosed and convert it to a screen, three season or all season room.
  • You can build a sunroom at ground level with access from a patio sliding door by enclosing an existing patio or deck area, or create an entirely new area at this level.
  • If you have a raised deck or can add one on the upper level, you can turn that space into a sunroom to expand your existing living room or family room area. This is a great way to modernize a space. By opening it up to the new sunroom, you will add light and spaciousness to your main living level.
  • If you have a walk-out basement on your lowest level, you can open and extend that space by excavating as necessary and add a sunroom off the existing outdoor entry area, which will bring more light and space into the lower level.

Now that you know more about split level home renovations, the next step is to submit an online consultation form to schedule your free in-home estimate. You can also call us at 800-230-8301 today to get started.

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