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  • Writer's pictureTui Kanuka

Sunroom vs. Room Addition: Which Is Better For You?

Are you thinking about adding a new space to your home?

When it comes to home expansions, there are plenty of great ideas out there for adding extra space and comfort to your property. Sunrooms can be an excellent choice for bringing more natural light into your home and boosting the ambiance of your living space, while room additions can add tremendous value.

Whether you opt for adding a sunroom or constructing an entirely new room in your home, the key is to know the pros and cons of both. Either option can be a fantastic addition to your home with the right planning and preparation.

This article takes a look at the differences between a sunroom and a room addition to help you decide which is the better option for you. Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of both options, as well as cost breakdowns to help you budget correctly.

What is a Sunroom?

A sunroom is a room designed for enjoying the outdoors from the comfort of inside your home.

In many ways, a sunroom is like a hybrid of a patio and a living room. A sunroom will often include some type of heating and cooling system — though it does not have to and can depend instead on the sun to heat the room. Additionally, a sunroom is often made up of walls of windows, rather than solid material.

Generally, a sunroom is separated from the main house and connected via a set of sliding or French-style doors. For the ceiling, window panels with some sort of optional covering are ideal.

Adding a sunroom to your home can be an excellent way to bring extra comfort and relaxation to your living space. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to adding a sunroom to your house:

The Pros of a Sunroom

  • Energy Efficiency: A sunroom is primarily lit by the sun, requiring minimal lighting and electricity usage within this room. You can take this energy efficiency a step further by making the room a reading room where electrical devices are prohibited or by installing solar panels to help provide energy to the room.

  • Natural Lighting: Finding excellent natural lighting is a homeowner’s dream. This natural lighting can make having a sunroom great for your mental health, as research shows that natural light helps lessen the severity of mental health symptoms and improve a person’s overall mood.

  • Affordable Construction: In general, a sunroom is a fairly inexpensive build if you do not have an existing room or patio that can be converted into a sunroom. Of course, the total price of your sunroom will depend on how many extra bells and whistles you add to it.

The Cons of a Sunroom

  • Energy Efficiency: One of the main pros of sunrooms also has the potential to be a con as well. Sunrooms can provide a great space for enjoying sunlight while saving energy by keeping electrical lights off — however, this energy efficiency can be thwarted if you need to cool or heat your sunroom, as the room is barely guarded against the natural environment.

  • Limited Privacy: If you have neighbors nearby, having a sunroom may not provide you with optimal privacy when you are trying to kick back and relax. As sunrooms are comprised mainly of windows, you may want to invest in curtains or blinds for the times when you do not want your home to be visible to the world outside.

  • Tax & Insurance Adjustments: Anytime you add new additions to your home, it can potentially raise the value of your home and thereby also raise your property taxes. If you are simply converting an existing room into a sunroom, however, you may not be subject to tax raises.

What is a Room Addition?

A room addition is a newly-constructed room that is added to your existing home.

Unlike a sunroom, a room addition is often built from scratch and must include all the right amenities, such as electrical outlets. Moreover, if you intend to use the room addition as an extra bedroom, the National Building Code of Canada requires an egress window to be included in every bedroom.

Adding a whole new room to your home can be of great benefit — but it can also come at a cost. Let’s check out the pros and cons of building a room addition:

The Pros of Building a Room Addition

  • Extra Space: One of the best advantages of adding a new room to your home is that it gives you extra space for whatever needs you have — whether that’s the need for a new bedroom, a home office, or simply some extra storage space.

  • Increased Value: Adding a completely new room to your home adds property value that can ultimately help you turn a bigger profit if you plan on selling your house down the line — especially if the room is up to Canada’s bedroom building code.

  • Creative Freedom: By adding a new room to your home, you give yourself the creative freedom to design the room in whatever way pleases you. This can be an excellent way to customize your home and give it a greater sense of your style.

The Cons of Building a Room Addition

  • Longer Construction: To put it bluntly, building an entirely new room takes time. Whether you are completing the construction yourself or hiring a renovation company for the project, you need to plan accordingly for this process, as it can take weeks to months to finish.

  • Noise & Distractions: Along with having part of your home under construction for a considerable amount of time, you must also consider the noise and distractions that come with a construction site. This is particularly important to consider if you work from home.

  • Higher Taxes: Adding a new room to your home certainly helps raise the value of your property but will also likely increase your property taxes as well. It can be helpful to consult with a property tax expert before making any construction commitments.

Is a Sunroom Cheaper than a Room Addition?

When it comes to whether a sunroom or room addition is the cheaper option, sunrooms are typically the less expensive option. Even building a sunroom from scratch can be less expensive, as it does not need to meet as many building code standards as an entirely new room.

However, the total cost of either a sunroom or room addition project ultimately comes down to you and how much you care about cost savings.

Either option can range in price depending on which features you want to add, as well as the quality and rarity of the materials you want used to complete the room. Additionally, you must also calculate the costs of furnishing the room as well.

The Costs of Adding a Sunroom vs. Building a Room Addition

No matter which option you end up choosing, it is essential to create a budget for your expansion project.

Let’s look at the breakdown of the costs for both sunrooms and room additions:

The Costs of Adding a Sunroom

The price of your sunroom is going to depend on whether you have an existing room that can be converted into a sunroom or not. If you are building a sunroom from scratch, the costs may be considerably higher than if you are converting a room.

On average, the price of a sunroom renovation can range from $10,000 to $80,000.

Important factors that influence this cost include:

  • 3-Season vs. 4-Season Sunrooms: A 3-season sunroom is intended for use in the spring, summer, and fall. This type of sunroom requires little to no heating, as the sun provides all the necessary heat during these seasons. However, a 4-season sunroom cannot always be warmed adequately in the winter by the sun alone, requiring a heating system to be installed.

  • Window Quality: The quality, size, and quantity of the windows you choose for your sunroom will drastically impact the cost of the sunroom as a whole. Important window considerations include whether or not you want ceiling window panels, how much wall space you want to be dedicated to windows, and whether you want screened-in portions instead of windows.

  • Size: Finally, the size of the sunroom itself is the last major factor to consider. If you are working with a renovation company or buying the materials on your own, you will likely face costs that are priced per square foot of your sunroom project.

The Costs of Building a Room Addition

Room additions generally cost more than sunrooms, as they require more amenities and materials to construct than a sunroom does.

On average, a room addition in Canada can range from $50,000 to $100,000 in total price.

Important factors impacting this cost include:

  • Electricity & Plumbing: Sunrooms do not inherently need to be electrically wired to be complete — but room additions do. Additionally, if you plan on adding a bathroom, sink, or any other type of plumbing to the room, you will need to plan accordingly for that as well.

  • Materials: Home expansions and renovations are exciting because they give you the freedom to choose whatever materials your heart desires. However, you should keep a budget in mind when choosing materials, as choosing only the highest quality materials can quickly drive up your project costs very quickly.

  • Square Footage: Like sunrooms, the end price of your room addition is going to largely depend on the total square footage of the project. Smaller rooms will inherently be cheaper, while larger rooms will cost you more but give you more space in the long run.

Final Thoughts: Should You Add a New Room or a Sunroom to Your Home?

Choosing between a sunroom and a room addition comes down to what purpose the room serves.

If you want an extra relaxation space perfect for family time, reading, or simply enjoying natural light, then a sunroom may be great for you. Plus, sunrooms can be excellent spaces for hosting dinner parties and other get-togethers, especially during the summer.

On the other hand, a room addition can be great for adding a new bedroom, home office, or storage space to your home. This can be beneficial if you are expanding your family and need more room to grow.

Both sunrooms and room additions can help add extra value to your property.

At the end of the day, what matters most is budgeting accordingly and working with a construction or renovation company that listens to your wants and helps you achieve your goals.

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