More Tips on Second Story Additions

Home Addition

If you have previously read the article here about second story additions, you have some idea of what advantages exist in this type of renovation. On the other hand, you realize that building up is not always an option, and that sometimes it is simply not the best option. With this in mind, here are some other tips to consider before looking at a major home addition.

Keep in mind throughout reading this article that sometimes upward expansion is simply not an option. Make sure to consult your local building department to see about any permits or codes that may prevent you from an expansion. Conversely, sometimes an outward expansion isn't an option either, which can leave a second story addition as your only option.

Upward vs. Outward

Sometimes, the choice doesn't exist and the only way to expand is up. When there is space in your lot for a vertical expansion though, the question of whether it is better to build up or out arises. Assuming that you have the option, an upward expansion can certainly be worthwhile, but it won't fit all home types.

If you have extra land in your lot for an outward expansion, first consider the overall style of your house. Some homes are designed to be one story and adding another one will simply not work with the style or the theme. Don't just consider utility and cost when looking at adding a second story. Also consider whether a horizontal expansion would just be a better option.

Price Debate

The truth is expanding upward does typically cost more than expanding outwards. This price can often be increased further if your foundation needs to be reinforced. If a home was built as one story, sometimes the land it was built on can simply not support a second story. When this is the case, you'll find yourself spending much more money than you bargained for.

Even if the foundation is firm, the cost of building up is still more material intensive than a normal room addition, and can cost up to 50 percent more than a standard expansion. If money is a concern, this factor alone can often break the deal. Despite this, some people simply don't have the room for an outward expansion, so moving up is the only option. Just remember, it will be more expensive.

Energy Debate

Beyond the initial construction cost, one must also consider the energy implications of an upward expansion vs. an outward expansion. This is one category that could actually go either way. In some cases, adding an extra story can result in a higher energy cost than expanding horizontally. Most of the time, this is not the case.

With the proper layout, building a second story is actually cheaper in energy costs. This can be easily understood because it actually adds an extra layer of insulation to the existing story while keeping everything centralized. In this way, heating and cooling efforts alike are kept centrally and can more evenly spread throughout the entire house.


In addition to price and energy costs, consider also how you plan to have the new story laid out. If this stop story is going to have bedrooms and bathrooms, keep in mind the additional energy and plumbing costs associated with these areas. Perhaps you are considering adding a home theater or an exercise room. If this is the case, rather than building those rooms on the top story consider converting an existing room and then adding those old rooms in to the top story layout.

Regardless of what you plan to do with this, having a set layout before getting quotes or moving forward can be very helpful. As before, also keep in mind the cost of any building permits that might be involved in your addition. Make sure the layout will offer the most efficient flow of energy and plumbing.

Additional Costs

One of the worst mistakes people make when looking at any sort of expansion is the cost of furniture and decorations that will need to go into the room. Remember that you need to put this into your calculations of costs. For example, if you need a new bedroom in your expansion, you need to remember the cost of a dresser and bed.

Also consider the cost of flooring, carpets, drapes, blinds, lamps, fans, or any other accessory that you would expect to be in the room. A contractor is going to give you the cost of the expansion itself, not the content that you need to add once it is built. If you just need one more room, don't build an entire new story and find that you now have to pay for the increased electrical bill while only utilizing one new room.

Get Started

Of course, until you are sure that expanding upwards is possible, you should not start moving forward with anything. Still, if an expansion is something that you need, start getting quotes as soon as you have verified that you can. Don't just hire the first contractor that you speak to, and make sure that whoever you hire has some creative tips on adding the expansion.

As discussed above, a proper layout of a new floor can make a huge different in water and energy costs, so don't go hiring someone who won't take this info consideration. When in doubt, check with another contractor and see if he can't get you a better estimate. Once you know who you're working with, get the project started.

Posted by: Ahmed Muztaba
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