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There are several reasons why homeowners opt to extend their houses vertically, but the most apparent is the limited lot space to build on. This type of renovation project offers several advantages, like complying with zoning restrictions imposed on the property. It also overcomes the limitation of the square footage while providing you with additional living space.

Of course, like any other home remodeling project, you must first do your homework before deciding to have a vertical addition on your house. Read on to learn about the factors you need to consider when adding a new level to your home, along with the different ways you can achieve it.

6 Considerations When Adding a Second Story

Adding a second story to a house is no easy task, but it is also not impossible. To achieve this without any ensuing problems, you must talk about six things with your home remodeling contractor, as follows:

1. The Local Building Code

Although you may not be necessarily using up additional land , you still need to understand that there are certain restrictions to building vertically. Before you finalize the design of the additional story of your house, you must first consult your local building code to determine these limitations.

After that, you should have your remodeling contractor design a second level that complies with zoning regulations, which may include an increased setback from the property fences. After that, look into policies related to building danger risks, especially if your home is located in a fire-, flood-, or cyclone-prone zone.

2. Your Homeowners Association

Before you give the green light to your contractor to build the second-story extension, you must also consider the complexities of your homeowners association. There are some communities that have minimal regulations and others that require more work.

Some of the things you may need to think about are whether there are heritage restrictions in place, the overall height of your additional house level, and the privacy of your neighbors. A house located in a sloping site, for example, is most ideal for a vertical expansion as it can be designed to be lower than the standard second story.

3. Design Proportions

The proportion of your vertical addition design is also a major factor to consider. It will not only determine your home’s curb appeal, but also establish the overall aesthetic of it.
The design of the addition is very important, so make sure to avoid doubling the height plainly to prevent your rectangle-shaped home to come off as boxy. Instead, try to offset it using overhangs, porches, trim details, and roof pitches.

Remember that skimpy proportions aren’t apparent in one-story houses, but becomes more unpleasant to the eye when the size of the structure is doubled. For this reason, you must make sure that every element of the house – from the eaves and trim to the windows, shutters, and columns – are given additional emphasis to achieve a better proportion with the home’s overall size.

4. Flow and Continuity of the Design

Aesthetically speaking, the added level of your house should exude a certain flow and continuity without certain elements looking out of place. That said, make sure to go for a remodeling design that either complements the original structure or creates a contrast that won’t seem incompatible with it.

There are no set rules when doing this, so make sure to hire a professional and experienced designer for the job. Just remember that matching the vertical extension means sourcing matching materials that may no longer be available. Avoid even one mismatch as it might stand out and ruin the aesthetic of your home.

5. Structural Support

When building a house up, remodelers often need to inspect the foundation to determine whether it can carry the weight of the additional story. This will make sure that your home is beefed up enough to handle the multilevel structure based on the number of stories to be added or that are already present.

To achieve this, you can hire a structural engineer or have your contractor’s own licensed crew assess the edifice before proceeding with the renovation. This will determine whether reinforcing the foundation is necessary for the additional level you are planning to have.

6. Cost

Another major factor you need to consider when building your home is the cost. As mentioned earlier, the foundation of the house may need to be reinforced if it wasn’t made to carry a multilevel edifice. This means you may need to spend more on your vertical home addition to keep you and your family safe.

Taking that into consideration, your home remodeler might recommend that your home needs to be rebuilt to ensure that the added value will still be greater than the cost of the renovation. This will be beneficial for you or your heirs should you decide to sell the property in the future.

3 Most Common Ways to Extend Your Home Vertically

When building your house up, home remodelers have the choice to apply several strategies to the project. To get a good grasp of what would be done to your home, here are some examples that most builders use today:

1. Starting From the Ground Up

This entails tearing off the original roof of your house – literally. From there, the builders will start building the new level from scratch, like one would in a ranch house, and add a new roof later.

2. Going Modular

Modular second story additions are built off-site to be attached to the original house. This is considered the quickest and most cost-efficient vertical expansion strategy as the new level is already fully built when it arrives to the construction site.

3. Replacing the Roof

Replacing the roof, in this sense, means removing the overhead structure temporarily and putting it atop the edifice once the new level has been added. This strategy practically reuses your old roof once the second or third level is done, thereby reducing the construction costs.

The Takeaway

Building up a house entails thorough research and detail-oriented work. To make the most out of the benefits of having a second story, you should make sure you fully understand the factors that need to be considered and the various techniques the builders might use for your property.
This article was written by Rachel Hennessey. She manages the Pools and Landscaping Division of Hennessey LLC. She also works on Tender and Pre-Qualification and brings in new business to the company’s Construction, Interiors and Civils Division.


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