Sometimes you can add on without paying an energy penalty.
The owners of this 1960s ranch house loved their house but it wasn't configured to meet their needs. Despite its generous square footage, the house had only two small bedrooms for the family of four, and there was no casual living space for parents and kids to hang out separately.
As remodelers we encounter this all the time: people live in homes whose space plan is out of sync with their functional requirements. In most cases we strive— and indeed are able—to resolve this problem by redesigning existing spaces. But in this case we couldn't.
The house featured a large, open living room with a central chimney. Access to two small bedrooms was off one side of the living room, while a kitchen, den and porch were off the back. Chopping up the living room wasn't an option—both for structural reasons and because the owners wished to preserve the openness of their home. We saw no alternative but to add on.
At the same time neither we nor the clients wanted to increase the home's energy usage. In fact we were hoping that when all was said and done, the house would use less energy than before, despite the fact that there would be more space to heat and cool as well as additional electrical loads.
It was a tall order: could we increase the home's size without increasing its energy footprint?