The Naked Truth About 2nd Story Additions

My remodeling company does a lot of this kind of work and has been in business for 30 years.  But that doesn’t necessarily qualify me to be an expert in doing this complex type of addition.  What does though is that I have done this project at my own house.    Doubling the square footage was spectacular, but it came with a price.  I suffered all the ravages of turning one’s house upside down while living there.  It taught me huge lessons about how stressful remodeling can be for my clients.   I have a genuine sense of empathy one can have – and my clients love it.

Second story additions are complex projects, so I like to discuss what’s involved and typical costs before getting too far down the road on an estimate.

Because you are adding significant weight/load to the original house, plans are of no used with an engineer’s input and stamp.  Without the engineering, especially on the foundation, the cost can vary widely depending on the need for more slab piers, (and piers and beams if your house isn’t on a slab.)  Is all this spelled out in the plans you have?  An architect’s opinion about piers is not enough – the city and your bidders will need an engineer’s information as well.

Some Questions:

Who did the plans, and what kind of ballpark cost did they give you to add a full 2nd story?   These projects are usually under-estimated.

Have you gotten any bids from certified remodelers who have the experience and skill set to do this kind of project?

Where did those bids come in?

You can use the free contractor test to find a professional remodeler.  Instead of wasting time parading several contractors through the house, use the time to ask the right questions over the phone to narrow it down to 1 or 2 companies to come do site visits.  Then select the one you think is the best fit for you, and negotiate the project from there.  A skilled remodeler can help you cut some cost out of the project if need be.

The second story projects we have done (including one at my own house) typically cost between $150K and $250K.   Remember, the first story is always impacted too, since ceilings have to be opened up to install support beams, and the stairs have to be created.  Are you prepared to invest this   kind of money in your home?  If your square footage is fairly small so you’d probably be at the lower end of that range (and be able to include the collateral projects like the new deck, etc.  It can be a great investment if you are in the flood plain and can’t add space on the ground, and/or if you plan to be there for several years.

An important note: you can’t live in the house or have your contents in there during the construction, so you have to add moving costs and make arrangement to live elsewhere, for 4-6 months.  All the mechanical systems will be interrupted, and the roof will be off for awhile during the construction of the 2nd floor and roof.  It’s not any fun to be there during this project – in fact the house is not even habitable. For this reason, you should start construction during a period of good weather because you might need to camp outside the home for a while (I’ve written about some practical tips to help during an addition renovation).

I hope I am not depressing you.  These are the real facts about second story addition work, and it’s always good to go into these things with your eyes open and armed with realistic information.  I have never regretted adding a second story to my home.  I love and appreciate my house and the changes I made during the remodeling.  I know you would feel the same way.

Feel free to reply or call me if you have any questions about second story additions, or any other residential remodeling you might be considering.