Have you found that you and your family simply don’t have enough room in your home anymore? Have your needs changed or your lifestyle, and you’re sick of feeling cramped? If so, you might be looking at selling your current property and buying something new, or you could be interested in adding a second story to your current place.
The latter option is helpful if you love your location and neighbors, etc., and don’t want to move from where you are. Here are some tips for this big addition to keep in mind.
Your first step is to look into zoning and building codes, plus health regulations, to see if you’ll get approval to add a second story to your home. It helps to visit your local government zoning office and ask them what’s permitted and about the total structure height you can go to. Many codes these days only allow the top of a building to be a certain number of feet above the grade level, the soil around the house.
Once you have this figure, do some calculations to see what the height of your home would end up at if you added a story on top of the existing structure. Keep an eye on rules and regulations related to things like lot coverage and floor area ratios, too. There may even be subdivision issues since land developers can sometimes include restrictions on the height of homes if they might block the view of other homeowners.
Investigate Your Home’s Foundation and Other Structural Considerations
Next, investigate whether your property’s foundation and framing will be able to support the weight of a second story. Often, these elements are structured to support only a certain level of weight that may be much less than the load you get when adding more height to the home. You may need to opt for only a partial story instead of a full second one or get costly structural reinforcements done to support the additional weight.
Plan Out Exactly What You Need and How the Second Story Will Give It to You
Another step is to plan out precisely what you hope to achieve with the second story. It helps to work back from the main floor and determine what you want to change there that you can make happen by adding a new level to your property. For example, if you’re counting on an extensive primary bedroom suite upstairs, the current main bedroom downstairs could be freed up to turn into a large study. Or, you might even knock that bedroom wall down to make your living or dining area much larger.
Your planning should include thinking about how and where you’ll get up to the second story from downstairs and how much storage you want to include by way of linen closets etc., in the extra level. Many people consider adding a laundry chute, too. Externally, you may be interested in having roof features and windows integrated into the second story to avoid your house looking too boxy, such as a widow’s peak or skylight. You may even want to add a window seat if you’ve always dreamed of having one of those.
Clean Out Your Attic and Other Areas
Once you’ve made a detailed plan for the addition, clear out areas that will be affected by the renovations. In particular, pay attention to your attic or other spots up in the roof that you may have used as a storage hold-all for years and that have now become full of “stuff.” Go through everything to see what you can sell, donate, recycle, or bin to make more room.
If you simply have too many things you want to hold onto, and they won’t fit in your home until the second story is complete, you may want to hire a storage unit for a time. Look for options in your area by searching online with terms such as “storage Los Angeles” or “rent a storage unit in Florida.”
Research Builders and Contractors Carefully
Of course, you also need to find a good builder or other contractors to complete the second story work for you. Research people and companies with extensive experience in this line of work (it’s ideal if they specialize in it) and who you can see have received many excellent reviews and testimonials from past clients. It’s worth asking your friends, family members, colleagues, etc., for recommendations, too.
Before you sign a contract with the business you choose, read all the fine print carefully. You need to understand what extra charges you could be slugged with, what happens if delays occur, and how and when payments are due, among other things.
Adding a new level to your home can make it worth a lot more but the process is also very expensive and can be stressful and headache-inducing. As such, consider all the factors above and dot your I’s and cross your T’s at each step along the way.