Adding a Second Floor to Your Home

Considering a Second Floor?

In many residential situations, additional space can be accomplished by adding a second floor to an existing home.

What are some of the advantages of this method of creating additional space ?

  1. The foundation for the additional space is already there. If the home exists, and is in good shape, then the foundation already exists for the home. The addition of space as a second floor, utilizes the foundation that is already in place, and will not require the expenditure of additional foundation support.
  2. In most situations, the addition of a second floor, whether partial, or full coverage, will utilize the existing utilities such as plumbing systems, heating and cooling systems as well as the electrical systems installed for the existing spaces. In some instances, due to the added square footage, existing systems, may have to be added to, or adjusted to satisfy the requirements of the existing space. However, these systems do not, in most cases, have to be installed as brand new systems.
  3. In many instances, the addition of a second floor could possibly allow the continued occupancy of the first floor, as the addition is being built. This will eliminate the need to move out of the existing space to allow the construction of the new.
  4. Additional space is accomplished without the change in location, movement of the family to a new neighborhood, school moves, etc.

What are some basic parameters that should be reviewed to indicate that this type of construction is actually possible?

  1. It is important that you have a professional structural engineer review your existing home and evaluate the ability of the existing structure to support a second floor. In some situations the existing foundation may not be capable of supporting the additional loading, or the interior framing is not capable of being reinforced to support this loading.
  2. Involve a general contractor, or a modular home builder, to solicit their opinion regarding the addition of a second floor. In most instances an experienced general contractor will have already performed numerous second floor additions, and can easily determine whether your situation will support the additional structure.
  3. Involve an electrical, plumbing and HVAC subcontractor to further evaluate the addition of a second floor. You can contact each separate sub yourself, or simply hire a professional general contractor to put the entire package together. This is totally dependent upon your abilities as well as spare time.

Other notes regarding the addition of a second floor.

  1. You will need to find the room for a staircase to access the second floor within the structure, or consider an exterior staircase.
  2. Any masonry or metal flue and venting that penetrates your existing roof, will need to be extended thru the second floor and out the new, higher roof.
  3. Any existing skylights, or other roof penetrations, light shafts, etc. will be eliminated once the second floor is constructed.
  4. Sound considerations should be investigated. Once a second floor is constructed, the noise transmission from the first to the second should be anticipated, and the installation of additional insulation should be considered.
  5. In many instances, the existing ceiling joists, or attic floor joists will not be adequate to support a full floor loading for a second floor. The existing joists will probably need to be doubled up or other means of additional support considered.
  6. The exterior facade must be considered. If you are used to the look of a single family ranch, the addition of a second floor will substantially change the exterior look of the home. This should be considered, and special attention made to the exterior look of the home, once the second floor is constructed.
  7. Plumbing for the second floor should be placed within the area of the plumbing on the first floor, if possible. It is much easier to tie into the sanitary lines if the locations are in the approximate same position.

The addition of a second floor will, in many instances afford the most economical means of increasing your living space. However, a professional should be hired to evaluate the possibilities.

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