Ripping off the roof and building an entire story to your home may sound like a drastic measure to gain space, but there are a variety of reasons why homeowners take on such a project. For one, the additional space could allow a growing family to stay in a neighborhood they love. Adding a whole new level to your house can also be quite the money-saver if the housing market is hot — as it has been over the last couple years.
But expanding up with a second or even third story can impact the rest of your home, and you always want to make sure you’re choosing the best way to maximize the space available on your property. That’s why it’s so important to consider the following when adding an additional level to your home:
- Type of addition. You may be surprised to hear that there are a number of options for expanding a home vertically. The most obvious is to tear off the roof and build a whole new level directly above the existing structure. But you can also choose to expand just a portion of the space or expand an upper level out across an existing section of the home, like a garage or porch. You can also sever the roof and temporarily lift it off — to then “reattach” later after the project is done.
Before contacting a contractor, you’ll want to determine exactly how much space you’ll need and how much you can afford. If your goal is a master suite, you may be thinking of just adding a half story to your home. But the additional cost to add more rooms to a new second story is often so small in comparison to the project itself that it often pays to go the extra mile. Three bedrooms on one floor is a big selling point for most buyers.
- Structural requirements. Inevitably, the second-floor addition will weigh more than what was there originally — even if that attic space was packed to the brim. As a result, a professional will need to determine exactly how much weight the walls and foundation of your main floor can carry and what sort of adjustments need to be made to the structural support to accommodate the extra load and meet building codes.
- Mechanical requirements. All the mechanics in your home were installed to meet the requirements of the property’s square footage and number of outlets and fixtures in your house. By increasing the square footage, you’ll need to revisit the “size” of your furnace, electrical panel, water heater, and even air conditioning unit. The electrical panel, for example, will probably need to be upgraded to 200 amps, while your HVAC system may need to be replaced or simply added on to.
- Access requirements. In adding a second or third story to your home, you’ll often need to build a new staircase to access the space. This unavoidably cuts into the space below, which may then change the purpose of one or more of your rooms — not to mention, the traffic flow on that particular level. A good contractor or remodeling company can help you explore the best options for where to locate the new stairs to minimize the impact on existing rooms and provide the desired results.
- Exterior aesthetics. A second-story addition often brings into question the appearance of the home itself. Do you try to match the siding and windows of the original home? Or, do you sort of start from scratch? After all, the new level may require the removal of a large portion of the siding, so it may make sense to invest in new siding for the entire house. And if your windows are old or rotting, it could be a good time to replace the existing ones to match those for the addition.
Besides siding and windows, you also want to consider the architectural appearance of the home. When doubling the height of a rectangular house, for example, you’re often left with a boxy structure that isn’t all that appealing to the eye. Varying the roof pitch or adding overhangs, dormers, trim details, and even a front stoop can offset this appearance and make for an attractive home.
- Interior aesthetics. Many times, homeowners use the existing home to guide their choice for finishes in the new second floor. When the rest of the house has a certain type of trim, they opt for the same in the addition. But the advantage of adding a second story, besides the extra square footage, is the opportunity to revisit all the finishes throughout the entire home. If you currently have carpet, for instance, you may decide to install hardwood in the addition and the main floor.
Adding a second story also provides you with an opportunity to give the main floor some extra height. Before adding the new level, you could ask what it would entail to extend the walls several inches to make the existing rooms feel more expansive. And when the addition is done, you could decide to merge smaller rooms if you no longer intend to use them as you did before, like two small bedrooms could become a den or family room.
If you’d like more information about second-story additions, or want to schedule an appointment to discuss your options, please feel free to contact Fair & Square Remodeling. A member of our team would be more than happy to answer any questions or alleviate any concerns about remodeling your home.