Second Story Addition
Planning for a second story room addition is extremely important. The first thing you will want to find out is if this new construction project is even possible. Talk to the homeowners association and let them know your plans before you even lift a finger. Next, meet with your local government to see if they will even let you add second story room addition to your existing home. Building permits will definitely need to pulled for a job like this.
You may want to consult with an architect or structural engineer to get their thoughts on the structural aspect of this project, although a good builder or general contractor can offer some valuable input as well. The foundation will need to be inspected to make sure it can carry the weight of the second story or attic room addition. Keep in mind that most foundations were not designed to accept the weight of a second story room addition.
There are still ways add a second level to a house, such as adding a new perimeter beam around the existing foundation and this is where a structural engineer is needed. A set of working drawings will need to designed for your second story addition or mother in law suite. Most design build contractors have a designer or draftsman on staff and can generate CAD drawings of the new space.
If all goes well and you are allowed to proceed with your new home remodeling plan, then you will next need to find out if there are any plumbing vents, air conditioners in the attic, electrical lines, chimney flues or anything that is in the way of where the new living space will be built. If you are lucky, then you won’t have move or relocate any of the previous items.
If you are not so lucky, the cost of having to move this stuff can get really pricey really fast. That is why you must explore all these options before you hire any contractor or builder. A good contractor or builder will let you know ahead of time all these potential pitfalls. Next will be the structural design of the new second story addition. The existing roof will need to be completely removed and the floor joists or a flooring system will most likely be recommended by your engineer, architect or builder.
DO NOT let them tell you that you can support the new room addition on top of the existing joists or rafters! This is wrong on so many levels! It doesn’t take an engineer to tell you that all that new weight that will be added by building a second story addition can’t be supported by the existing 2×4’s, 2×6’s or even 2×8’s joists. Another possibility is using 2×12’s as this could save on cost, but you will need to consult with local building codes and a registered architect or structural engineer to confirm.
The new engineered-floor joists can be purchased in a variety of depths that range from 10 inches to 16 inches. Each depth can be purchased with different top and bottom flanges as well. All of these things factor into the allowable distances you can span with each type of joist. The thicker the floor joist, the longer span you can run without having to put in support columns underneath. After engineered flooring system is in place, the rest of the framing and construction is done in pretty much the same manner that a regular two story home is built. Tying in the new roof to the existing roof can present a bit of a challenge, but that is why hiring the right contractor to do the job plays a key role.
Planning for the new stairway can also prove to be a challenge, if you don’t currently have stairs. Stairs take up a lot of square footage and will need to be carefully placed so that you can take advantage of not wasting square footage. Depending on where the new second story addition is going, one option for stair placement is on one of the exterior walls of the existing house. Again, a qualified builder or architect can help with space planning to ensure that the new stairway is functional and blends in well with the current floor plan.
When planning to add a second story room addition to your existing home, I always advise my clients to talk to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers who have been through a home remodel before. They will always tell you what to expect during the construction process. Construction isn’t always the easiest and most fun process to go through, but we try to make it painless as possible by keeping our clients informed, educated and up to date with project status. We are building a mother in law suite on top of an existing garage at the moment and wouldn’t you know it…as soon as the tore the roof off, a big rain storm decided to come through San Antonio, Texas. Luckily we were prepared and had some tarps on the job site.” Danny Garcia, owner of Rhino Design Build in San Antonio, Texas.
A second story room addition can greatly improve the value of your home, but living in the home while the construction is going on is another story. If at all possible, consider living elsewhere during the major parts of the construction. If you have small children or office out the house, moving out temporarily is even recommend even more. The reason is that construction is very loud, noisy, messy and disruptive during working hours. Even after hours, there are still hazards to deal with: exposed nails, exposed wires, construction dust, temporary flooring/bracing isn’t always to be trusted, and the list goes on. Just know that this is all temporary and all you need is a little bit of patience to get the end result….your beautiful new room addition.