Outgrowing a beloved home poses a number of often frustrating problems. Many would say it’s simpler to move than deal with the “hassle” of adding on, especially when the only option is to build up instead of out.
True, adding a second (or even third) story to an existing structure requires a bit more thought than extending space on the ground. Some homeowners don’t have that choice, either due to lack of outward space or personal preference. Whichever the reasons are, there are some important things to consider prior to adding a second story.
Structural Support and Building Codes
Adding a second story isn’t as simple as tearing off the roof and slapping on some new rooms. Many one-story homes weren’t built with foundations and supporting structures to handle the weight of an upward addition. It’s important to make sure the existing structures can support any planned additions. If they cannot, that doesn’t mean a second story is out of the question. There are specialized techniques that can be used to reinforce the existing building. A professional structural engineer can evaluate the home to determine what would need to be done to make sure the planned addition will be a safe one.
Of course, the addition should also be a legal one. Depending on the local building code, the addition may need to meet certain restrictions. This is especially true in neighborhoods with strict homeowners associations or in historical neighborhoods. Always check with building permit laws before planning.
It’s important to assess both short-term and long-term costs associated with an addition. Alongside the predicted costs of materials and labor, it’s important to budget for costs that aren’t as obvious. This includes complications like damage discovered during building, such as water leakage or dry-rot. Home-owner’s insurance premiums generally increase when a home is added to, as do property taxes. Another expense to consider is how much it will cost to live during construction, which brings us to our next point.
Stay or Not To Stay (During Construction)
Surprisingly, many homeowners forget this step in planning. It’s easy to think, before construction begins, that they can deal with the inconvenience and live alongside the bustle of building. Depending on the scale of the project, however, what seems like a minor inconvenience can turn into a terrible headache. Imagine trying to live comfortably without electricity, water, or gas. Many of us could hardly last a week! Couple that with more severe hazards such as falling debris or exposure to the elements and the idea of finding temporary off-site housing is far more appealing.
There are several options when it comes to shelter during construction. Depending on the type of structure being built, a family could easily still live in their home. Modular additions, those built offsite and hoisted into place as a single unit, can reduce construction time immensely. Small additions, such as adding an attic or only building on one side of the house is also agreeable with living on-site. Larger projects, however, are likely to get a family looking for temporary residence elsewhere.
This is where budgeting wisely comes into play. For a project predicted to take several weeks, even months, many families choose to rent an apartment or house. For shorter projects, an extended-stay hotel may be feasible. Getting an accurate time estimate during planning is particularly important here. No sense in taking out a 6 month apartment lease for a project that will only last 3 months!
Aesthetics (Or, Sitting Pretty)
It would be a shame to go through all of that pre-planning to end up with an ugly addition. Good design not only benefits the home-owner, it also makes a positive statement to the neighborhood (and increases that lot’s property value). This is likely to be the most time-consuming part of the process. That’s good, because the addition should be as pleasing to live in as it is to look at.