How to Add a Second Floor to an Existing House

Written by kyle martin
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Adding a second story to your home is a viable option if you need to expand your home on a small property. It's a major undertaking, however, and requires extensive planning and financing. Even if you secure the money and a permit to build, your existing house and its foundation might not be able to support the added weight of a second story. The reward, however, of a second story is the added space and improved aesthetics in your home.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Permit
  • Bank loan
  • Architectural plans
  • Building supplies
  • Contractor

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  1. 1

    Determine if it's legally feasible. Visit your local building permits office to learn whether a second story is permissible in your residential zone. Write down any height restrictions or other regulations concerning second stories.

  2. 2

    Consult with remodelling constructors to get a rough estimate of how much per square foot you can expect to pay for the second story. Include the cost of a full bath in the estimate. Add a 20 per cent contingency cost to that figure.

  3. 3

    Find out if you qualify for a bank loan based on your remodelling cost estimate. Decide whether that's a debt you feel comfortable assuming.

  4. 4

    Assess whether the existing structure can handle the added stress of another story. Judge not just the exterior walls, but the foundation and the earth it rests upon. Usually a concrete slab poured directly onto the earth can support the extra structure. A house built upon a full basement, concrete beams or drilled piers usually cannot handle the load and will sink into the ground over time.

  5. 5

    Draft architectural plans showing how the existing plumbing will connect to an upstairs bathroom, whether the existing electrical panel will support the extra load, where a staircase would be erected and how sound will be dampened between floors. Make plans for heating and cooling, too. Building along the lines of existing pipes cuts back expenses.

  6. 6

    Remove the roof of your existing home, lay down the second-story floor and erect the walls.

  7. 7

    Build a staircase connecting the two floors. Top off the second story with another roof.

Tips and warnings

  • Talk with other homeowners who added a second story and how they survived the construction process. Ask them for any tips and what they would have done differently.
  • Factor the added expense of finding another to place to live during construction into the remodelling costs.
  • Save the shingles from your existing roof to place onto the new roof.

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