Tips on Deciding Whether to Build a Second Story Addition

roof addition

Living in a bungalow offers a variety of unique benefits. For instance, when your one story living space becomes cramped you have the option of building up. Second story home additions are a popular and smart way to utilize your existing home structure to create more more living space.


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But, second story additions are not limited to bungalows. You could easily hire a home builder to build a second story atop a single story garage, for example. If you’re thinking of building a horizontal home addition then consider building upwards instead. Vertical home additions are a great way to preserve land and increase your home’s livable space.

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The Benefits of Second Story Additions

One of the largest benefits of completing a second story addition is the added livable space that the project creates. The biggest advantage to a second story addition is that you do not lose out on yard space when you build upwards. All of the permanent exterior features such as sheds, patios, fences, and driveways can remain the same. One issue that you may face instead is a lack of backyard sun coverage. The second story may cast a shadow across your backyard.

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Having a second story instead of a sprawling single story may cost less to live in. Heating and cooling costs would be cheaper in a two-story expansion. In addition, and the amount of plumbing and electrical wire needed for the addition project is less on average. Granted, this depends on the floorplan. Take the time to consider the most efficient room placements for your home addition. Try your best to minimize the amount pipe or wire needed for the project, for example. Your contractor should be able to help you optimize your floorplan.

second story house

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Concerns About Second Story Additions

Although second story additions efficiently use your home’s existing structure, they are an especially expensive project. Second story additions are generally more expensive and intrusive than the other type of home renovation. They can actually cost 30 to 50 percent more than a standard room addition! The project could cost around (and above) $100,000.

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Some things that significantly add to the cost of this project may include:

  • Foundation / load bearing wall re-enforcement
  • Raising or replacing the existing roof
  • Hotel costs for family’s stay during the project

home addition

In most cases, second story home additions require the renovation team to remove the roof from your home. The top level of your home will be exposed (covered with a tarp, most likely). This means that your family won’t be able to live in the home comfortably (especially if you live in a bungalow).

You may have to move out unless the reno team can work in targeted areas. Nevertheless, you will not be able to live with the roof gone or during a certain stage of construction. You may need to put some furniture in storage if it doesn’t fit in the lower levels of your home during this renovation.

Before You Make Up Your Mind...

Home additions are huge projects to undertake. It’s best to do your due diligence before hiring a contractor so that you know enough about the project before you begin. Surprises are never fun. Consider the following before hitting the pavement with this project:

1. Ask your municipality

Contact your city’s local building department. They will tell you if you are actually able to build on your property. Sometimes local bylaws do not allow a second story addition. Reasons include shadows cast on neighbouring property or skyline preservation regulations.

2. Contact a foundation expert

Have a footing or foundation expert come and test your foundation. This is very important to ensure the existing foundation is built properly and can support the weight of another storey. An inspector or engineer will be able to inspect the area and determine how much weight the structure can bear.

3. Have a consultation with an architect

You may think that you can build a second story above your entire home, but an architect may tell you otherwise. Approach an expert architect with a general idea and see if it can be done. Go into the meeting with some designs, home blueprints, sketches, and talking points. Be certain about what you want. This will help you prepare for a deep discussion about home addition possibilities. An expert may even tell you that this project won’t meet your needs! So, before you get into planning the nitty gritty details speak to a professional about it.

4. Find a reputable contractor

Although it’s a no-brainer, finding a good, reputable contractor is often overlooked. Start by doing a contractor search within your city. Sort through the listings based on client reviews, TrustScore, and photos. Once you’ve narrowed down the search, do your due diligence and inquire about WSIB, licensing, and insurance. Contact the most qualified contractors. Ask to view their portfolio and their references. Ask at least three contractors for their quote on the project before settling on a contractor.


5. Get a permit if necessary

Although regulations differ in every municipality, home improvement projects that alter the structure of a building usually require a building permit. Be sure that your contractor obtains a permit for you. If you think that it’s a waste of time and money consider learning more about permits. Getting caught by a city inspector without a permit could delay or halt your project big time!

building permit

Is Building a Second Story Right for You?

A second story home addition is a great idea for any family who needs additional living space, and has the capital and time available to invest in a large-scale home renovation project.

Homeowners must seriously consider the complexity of a second story home addition before signing a contract. They are not the same as a home addition, or a room blow-out.

Those who take on a second story addition will probably have to move out for a period of time while the renovation crew works on the home.

If you feel that your family can sacrifice a little bit less sun coverage in your backyard and spend the money on this project, then it’s a great option for you.

Always remember that second story home additions need to be cleared with your municipality. It is likely that the project will require a permit as well. So, before you start planning, ask you city hall about building upwards. Then, get cracking on the small details, such as finding the right design, architect, and builder.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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