|If your foundation isn't able to support a second floor,|
are you ready to do this?
Why? More often than not, adding a second story is more complicated and less satisfactory than adding on at ground level. If you’re thinking about “going up”, there are a number of serious issues to consider.
|Stairs crammed in a closet or|
wiping out a bedroom won't do
your resale value much good.
If it isn’t, your only alternatives are to reinforce your present foundation, or to replace it with one designed to carry two stories. Both are expensive propositions. Foundation replacement, for example, requires that your house be supported on cribbing while the contractor demolishes the old foundation and pours a new one. This in turn usually requires that the landscaping and paving around your house be dug up as well. Not quite what you had in mind, huh?
|Many home styles weren't meant to be tall and spindly—|
as you can seen from this example.
(Courtesy Chicago Bungalow Association)
What’s more, a small second-story addition will generally be more expensive in relation to the amount of floor space added. That’s because the stairs consume a big chunk of floor space on both the first and second floors—space that has to be recaptured in the addition. Hence, a small second story addition is seldom worth the trouble.
|The proverbial second-floor addition that "fell out of the sky",|
crushing this poor little rancher.
If all this isn’t enough to think about, zoning and design ordinances in a few areas restrict or even forbid a second story addition, so check them out carefully too.
However, since you've stuck with me up to this point, I'm happy to say that there are a number of instances in which a second-story addition makes sense. If your foundation is adequate, your zoning checks out, and there’s room to accommodate a staircase without disrupting the lower floor plan, then going up may be just the ticket. If your foundation needs replacement anyway—say, due to seismic requirements or damage from settlement—then the extra effort necessary to bring it up to two-story standards will be nominal, and a second-floor addition may be worthwhile. Lastly, of course, if your site doesn’t have any room for a first-floor addition, you may not have any choice in the matter.