First of all, I would suggest that you get the survey on your home and talk to the Bergenfield Building Department. You really can't begin until you know how much of an expansion you'll be allowed to make.
Second, you need to know how much equity you have in your home and what budget is affordable - you do this by a conservative comparative market analysis and consulting with a licensed mortgage banker. If you base your equity estimate on the bottom of your price range, it will be much better for you.
By now you should know if you can build enough space to get what you want and you should have a budget. The next item is to talk to some excellent (not good, not average, I mean excellent) builders. Prepare yourself in advance by having a clear notion of what you want to build. Have several come to see you and get a ball park figure from them. Add 10% to that figure for the rising cost of materials - we might be in a recession but building materials are always going up.
Once you have all of this information, you're ready to start looking at what you can buy based on your equity and what you can afford.
Now take a look at your neighborhood - where your home is located. Look at the values to see if you'll be over improving for the location - that is always a huge financial mistake. Look at your neighborhood in comparison with where your budget allows you to purchase - does it make sense to move? What issues will arise from moving to a different location? Do you have children in school? Will it have an impact on commuting to work? Is it an area you've always dreamed about? These are questions only you can answer. There are other questions to be considered which have to do with the market values between where you are and where you're thinking of going - is there any differences, is one holding its values better than the other etc.
Once you look at everything, then you'll know which direction makes the best sense for you. But, there is one last question - do you want to go through construction? Again, that's only something you can answer.
I know that this is a very involved process but it's the only way to truly determine what's best for you and your family. To be perfectly frank, I usually advise my clients to build less than they intended - things have a way of growing significantly beyond one's original ideas. You'll need a good architect too - if you wish, I'll be glad to recommend some excellent professionals.
Hopefully this will help you make the best decision you can for yourself. Very often expanding makes the most sense but sometimes it doesn't. Only by spending the tme to completely investigate your options will you be able to do what's best for yourself.
There are so many factors to think about when making your decision and you need to consider them all.
Are you happy where you live, with the community, schools, etc?
Is there another house or community that can meet all your needs?
Do you have the property to expand?
Will you price yourself out of your neighborhood if you add on to your house? (It is better to be the least expensive house than the most expensive house in neighborhood).
Can you sell your house for what you have put into it and buy a new house that has all the features and the size you want to have?
After you have looked at all of these considerations, then you can decide what is best for your family.
there are many factors in making your decision. the level of expansion you are considering, ex: kitchen,family room,baths etc.. the first question you need to ask yourself, do I love the area I live in, ex: schools,transportation, family nearby,neighbors etc. . if your answer is yes, and you will remain in your home for at least 4-5 years, then I would consider an expansion to meet your needs. you can not put a value on being in the neighborhood that you cherish. i would not consider an expansion for the short term as you may not recover your cost. the construction expense may be better utilized in finding a larger home than you currently have. i can provide you with a current price trend analysis of your home and area to help you make an informed decision. hope to hear from you
The previous responses give excellent advice, especially Carmen's recommendation that you evaluate your neighbor's properties. You may not want to invest thousands of dollars that you may not recoup, especially in this challenging marketplace. In Bergenfield, it's better to conform with your neighborhood. I'm very familiar with Bergenfield, although I no longer list there. If you're interested in a comparative market analysis, I could give you a GENERAL idea of how much your home could sell for, as I'm still a member of the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, the predominant MLS for Bergen County.
Prudential New Jersey Properties / Morristown Office
Direct Line: 201.240.8699
Whenever you think of expanding your home, take a careful look at the homes around you. Will yours end up being the grandest on the block? The general rule in real estate is that it is better to be the smallest rather than the biggest. The reason is the larger, more elaborate home the less likely you are to recoup your investment. On the other hand, if the neighborhood can sustain it and you like your neighbors, schools etc., expansion my be your best bet. As Bill suggested, look around and see what your money can buy then weigh the options. If you do decide to expand, hire an architect and/or engineer and make sure you apply for all necessary permits.
Our recommendation is to reserve making a decision until you have explored the option of purchasing another home. Previewing property and coming face to face with this choice may clarify your decision.
Looking at other homes may also provide you with fresh ideas that could new implemented relative to your existing home.