Building Up: What You Need to Know When Considering a 2nd Floor Addition
Your current home seems to be bursting at the seams. Kids, pets, just all of the general “stuff” that families tend to accumulate over the years, it is all starting to piling up. You’ve decided that it’s time for a major home remodel as it seems you’ve outgrown your house. Second story additions are a great way to go as far as adding a ton of space, staying within your current footprint and updating your house to accommodate the ever-changing needs of your family.
But what exactly is involved with adding on a second story? Where do you begin and what factors do you need to take into consideration as you approach this comprehensive renovation project? A great place to start is by consulting a design build firm. Different from a general contractor or an architectural firm, a design build company does it all. Rather than going to an architect to get the prints and then an engineer to approve and stamp the prints, and then of course finding that general contractor to execute the plans, a design build company represents a team that takes care of your project from the very beginning starting with the blueprints, all the way to turn-key completion. Especially with remodeling jobs, design build firms are generally more adept at dealing with and controlling the flow and cadence of the project as everything is handled in-house.
So what do the design build experts advise as you approach your home’s second story addition…Here is a brief overview of what to consider, what you can expect, and what not to overlook as far as your project is concerned.
Accessing Your Second Story: The All-Important Stairs
Not to be forgotten of course because how else are you going to venture into and enjoy your brand new space, the stairs require careful planning and an extremely detail-oriented understanding as far as design and construction. Regardless of the style of the staircase, straight or switchback for instance, there are mandated space requirements when it comes to headroom, width, rise and run, handrails and spindles. If your stairs aren’t to code once the project is said and done, you will have a major dilemma on your hands and will most likely have to redo a great deal of the work. Teaming with a design build company that understands the current codes and requirements, especially when it comes to your addition’s stairs can certainly save you time and money.
City Ordinances, Permits and Historical Concerns
Before starting any work, and we mean any work, you need to check with your city or town building and zoning officials in order to acquire all necessary permits and get a better handle on what is allowed and/or prohibited as far as your second story addition is concerned. Your design build firm will submit the blueprints for review, along with the specifications of your project to include materials to be used and estimated costs.
Now, beyond the standard building permit, there are some areas that may require additional permitting. For instance, if you live near the airport or by the beach, there could be some additional paperwork involved. The best thing here, because each area and township has their own set of complex requirements, is to work with a design build team familiar with the region and therefore understands exactly what you will need to get your project started.
Additionally, if your home is a historical landmark or has some form of historical status you may be restricted as far as the overall design and the materials that can be used on your addition project. Similarly, if you reside in a neighborhood with an HOA, this may limit some of the design and material options with which you have to work. Again, talk to your design build company, and rely upon their guidance as far as some of these issues go.
Avoid Mechanical Mayhem – Know What Will Be Required as Far as Electric and Plumbing
Whenever you undertake any type of home remodel or major renovation especially, the question of your mechanicals and how they will subsequently be impacted is an extremely important one. From adding new heat runs, to integrating more wiring, to setting up and tying in the plumbing for a bath addition, the mechanicals are a crucial facet of your project. Working with a design build firm that explains all of the details to you first—particularly regarding the costs and ramifications here— is essential. As far as this part of the project goes, make no mistake about it, experience counts!
Most of All: Have Some Fun With It!
Okay, you are about to embark on this potentially crazy, almost always a little overwhelming, but incredibly rewarding home renovation journey. And by adding a second story, you are truly opening up brand new possibilities for your home’s overall look and feel. Think about it…when taking off the roof, you can actually reinvent the façade of your house. Go from bungalow to a modern single slope, from traditional gable to hip—your structure can literally look like a completely different house. Not to mention, the actual roofing and siding materials. Change the color, the texture, revamp your home and in the process, make it what you always wanted it to be!