Everything You Need to Know About Adding a Second Story

Demolishing the existing roof of your house and adding a second story could be in your plans if you want to gain more living space. You may want a new entertainment area, a playroom for the kids, or a guest room. Whatever your reason, getting a total home makeover needs ample preparation.

After all, it is not easy to live in a construction zone, which is what your existing home will be if you choose this option. Will you move out during ongoing construction or choose to renovate a certain part of the home only? These are the things you must think about since adding a new floor can take at least five months to a year, depending on the scope of the project.

Moreover, it is important to assess if adding a second floor will be cheaper than buying a new two-story house. Well, in our experience as a general contractor, there is no black and white answer because it depends on your circumstances. Perhaps, you want to retain your existing address, so moving is not an option.

Some situations call for complete home remodels, and it even helps that a second story addition could also help save you money if you work with the right team. That is why we have prepared this, so you see the requirements and considerations of building a second floor in your existing house.

Why Add a Second Floor

If adding a second story is tedious, disrupts your normal routine, and forces you to put your things in storage, why do people choose this option? Some people cannot bear to part with their address. Others cannot afford a completely new home. Let’s find out the specific answers below:

Small Lot

Adding a second story makes sense if you have a small lot size and cannot afford a new, bigger abode. Expanding vertically gives you a chance to preserve your garden or backyard, as well as that precious perimeter space between your home and a neighbor’s house.

Retain Outdoor Living Space

This means you can still enjoy having an outdoor living space because your space expansion will not eat up limited horizontal space. Perhaps, your current garden has a landscape feature like a cherry blossom tree or a pergola that you cannot let go of.

Make More Rooms

If you are building a family and expecting several bundles of joy, building a second floor provides you with a home makeover plus more space and privacy. You could build your kids their own rooms and add a family den. Adding height will also make your ground floor’s walls stretch a few inches taller because of the new level. Moreover, you can combine smaller downstairs rooms and expand the living room for an airier communal space.

Retain Your Address

Finally, most people who opt to add a second story do so because they have sentimental feelings and want to continue living in the same neighborhood and staying in the same school district. If you have close ties with your neighbors due to many years of camaraderie, it is hard to duplicate that kinship if you change your address.

Types of Second Floor Additions

If you want to expand your home vertically in a home remodel project, you have several ways to do it. How you go on about adding a second story will hinge on your home’s existing foundation, your county’s building regulations, and your personal preferences. Here are the 4 most popular ways to add a second floor to your home.

  1. Start From Scratch: This is the most drastic of all options because your contractor will have to tear off the existing roof. You and your family will need to vacate the premises and secure your belongings in a rented storage facility. In turn, a team will build a completely new second story from scratch. This option is popular for small bungalows like a ranch.
  2. Roof Replacement: Another option that could be cheaper is to take down the current roof from its edges. Severing from this area allows you to save the roof. In essence, the contractor temporarily lifts the roof, builds a new upper level, and then places the roof back after they frame the second story. Still, you will need to vacate your home and secure your belongings.
  3. Expansion: One of the least invasive ones is expanding across a selected one-story area of the home. This works because you can opt to stay in the house since you get to keep the roof of your house while construction is underway. The section they are remodeling is usually in a non-traffic area such as above the porch or over a flat-roof garage. Hence, you can continue living in the house but be ready for all the construction noise, accompanying dirt, dust, and rubble.
  4. Modular Method: Another popular second-floor expansion method is using a modular design. This means your second-floor addition is designed and built in a different area. Once they fully construct it, they will install it over your existing home. A lot of people love this because the work gets done fast without causing a lot of disruption to the homeowners. Most of all, this method is affordable and swift, so it allows you to get back to your daily home routine in no time.

Cost Considerations When Adding a Second Floor

If you want to increase your home space with more than a room or two, adding a second story is a good option that will not decimate your wallet. Here are a few home renovation factors that you ought to weigh because they will impact the cost of the whole project:

The Existing Foundation

Adding vertically means you could lower the costs because you do not need to do any foundation work. The latter is one of the costliest parts of any remodeling project. When you expand space using your current foundation, you have the potential to save money. Moreover, you also save time because there is no digging involved.

But, of course, our team of experts recommends this option after you check your foundation to ascertain that it could handle the added weight of a new second story.

Lifting the Current Roof

If your budget is tight, you could save a lot of money by having a crane lift the current roof. Later, they can reinstall this into the new second story to make the project seamless, easy, and fast.

Noteworthy, crane rental fees can cost a lot, but it is still cheaper than building a completely new roof from the ground up. Also, you must consider the age of your roof. If it is already old with cracked hinges and leaks, a complete roof replacement is more cost-efficient.

Finishing the New Space

When you add a new level that fits on top of your home, you increase your square footage dramatically. Of course, it will take time to frame and weather-proof the new upper level, but it will be worth it. Once that has been installed, you have the option to finish the space completely.

Your remodeling budget determines what kind of finishing you can do on this new space. But if the budget is tight, you can do it room by room. Alternatively, if you are a handyman, you can DIY some of the rooms yourself and decorate them at your own pace.

The total cost of your new second-story project will depend on the finishes you choose. If you opt for a simple space with standard finishings, the total cost could be around half the price of a ground-level expansion with the same floor area.

Design Elements to Keep in Mind

Adding a second floor will change the look of your home. Though a one-story has its charm, the massive size of a two-story structure alone creates a bigger impression. However, if you have fallen in love with a design does not mean you can execute it right away.

Providing sufficient structural support is the primary consideration when you are thinking of adding a second floor. We suggest consulting with a structural engineer to assess if your house can bear the load of another level and if the current rafters are strong enough to serve as the floor joists of the upper level.

A certified engineer must evaluate your existing bungalow’s foundation and framing before proceeding with your design plans. If you want a seamless project, it will also help to take note of the following:

Awkward Massing

You want to avoid an awkward look. Usually, when you double the height of a plain, rectangle home, it could result in a boring, boxy effect. To avoid this, you should pay close attention to details like:

  • Overhangs
  • Porches
  • Trims
  • Roof pitches
  • Possible Height Restrictions

Before you begin your project, check with your town if they have any building codes that restrict the height of ridgelines in your area. If adding a second story conflicts with the rules, you will not be allowed to proceed. Verify with local officials before drawing up design plans.

Moreover, if you belong to a homeowner’s association (HOA), you may be limited in what you can do with your home’s aesthetics. You need to check your association’s manuals to see if there are clauses that prevent you from adding another level. Typically, most properties that belong to an HOA ascribe to a uniform appearance in all properties that fall within the association zone.

Match Windows

When you are doing your second story design, make it a point to match the windows, not unless you are going for an eclectic and mismatched look. Your existing window shape, size, and placement in the new level must coordinate with your existing house.

Take a look at the exterior walls to assess how the windows line up. You may want to form a pleasing pattern for both the top and bottom. Moreover, you may consider refreshing your windows (as well as exterior walls) with a coat of paint to make everything match.

Pleasing Proportions

When you are adding a second floor, you want to retain pleasing proportions that catch the eyes. Skimpy or unmatched proportions that go unnoticed in a smaller one-level house can look unsightly when things double in size with a second floor.

Hence, keep individual elements of your home design proportional to the new, larger size. For example, you can beef up windows, shutters, trims, eaves, dormers, and columns to fit the new look. Alternatively, you can also amp up the details with accent colors or contrasting finishes to create visual appeal.

How to Find a Reliable General Contractor?

Adding a second story will take time, so you want an expert who can get things done swiftly. Always look for a certified professional with the proper accreditation and licenses, coupled with state-of-the-art tools and equipment. Working with a reputable builder is the only way you can have peace of mind, especially since home renovations cost a lot of money.

On top of that, you want to ascertain that the contractor does a stringent background check for all the workers. You will be welcoming strangers into your beloved home, so you want people you can trust. When it comes to service companies, reputation is everything, so it would also help to check out online reviews to see what real-life clients say about their services.

Do not forget to shop around for quotes and look at a contractor’s portfolio. Conduct an interview and ask questions to determine if they are right for the job. Remember, before you agree to a contract, read the fine print.

If you live within the vicinity of Suffolk County, NY, our team can help you plan for a second story that is within your budget. We strive hard for a swift project completion because we know you want to get back to your routine ASAP. Our Long Island Home Advisors team can do a modular second-story design, where our workers build the second floor off-site, so we can speed up your project and reduce the time you spend away from home.

The Benefits of Working with a General Contractor

Whether you are renovating your bathroom, adding a second story, or building from scratch, construction projects are complex. It will always involve a considerable amount of time and money when you aspire to enhance your space. Fortunately, you can rely on the expertise of a general contractor to make the whole process more seamless.

Though some firms promise to make things simpler and easier, cutting corners and costs for convenience’s sake can be detrimental in the long run. Doing so can lead to problems like structural issues and make the project last longer. It may also be more expensive because of repairs and back jobs.

Hiring a licensed general contractor is the only way you can successfully complete your construction project while staying on schedule and within budget. They can help you race against your deadline and allocate resources properly since they have the expertise, skills, and state-of-the-art tools. In this article, we outline why a general contractor can be a godsend for you and serve as your best ally.

Defining the Role of a General Contractor

Before we dive deep into the benefits, we want you to be familiar with the role of a general contractor. A general contractor is a prime contractor who is in charge of a construction site, whether it is a new home build, complete attic renovation, roofing restoration, window replacements, or a complete kitchen remodel.

A general contractor is an industry expert who usually owns the firm, manages a team of laborers, and interacts with a big network of construction stakeholders. A general contractor offers an invaluable service by doing the following:

  • Hiring and managing subcontractors and people in the team
  • Coordinating complex building and renovation processes
  • Working closely with the architect
  • Purchasing various materials
  • Checking materials and workmanship
  • Following up deliverables
  • Dealing with supplier payments

Since your contractor is in charge of hiring the suppliers, vendors, tradesmen, subcontractors, and other personnel for your project, they serve as the liaison to make sure everyone meets their obligations and corresponding deadlines. A licensed contractor ascertains there is clear communication with proper expectations set, such as the time frame and budget requirements. Most of all, your general contractor serves as your guide, so you do not feel overwhelmed with the complex home building or remodeling process.

The Advantages of Working with a General Contractor

Hiring a general contractor to build or renovate your home is a cost-efficient choice. The primary goal of general contractors is to ascertain that you complete the project using high-quality materials and workmanship while saving as much money as you can. We have compiled a list so you can check out the benefits of hiring a general contractor below:

Have an Ally to Handle Problems Efficiently

Construction projects take time, spanning several months to even years. Sometimes, inclement weather or even something like a global pandemic with lockdowns can bring the project to a halt. But with an experienced general contractor and team, your projects can go on smoothly because they are familiar with the usual problems of their trade.

They possess the expertise to handle any problems with ease and efficiency. Their skills can efficiently manage most setbacks, allowing them to come up with solutions or to pivot alternatives. They could also schedule subcontractors and make sure they deliver prompt and high-quality work.

Save Time With a Well-Organized Schedule

How fast or how slow the work goes depends on your general contractor. The best general contractors will ensure your project progresses without glitches because they have a well-organized schedule. Hence you can rest easy because the construction project gets done within your planned timetable.

And let’s face it; renovations and new builds are a big hassle, taking several months with a contractor and even longer if you try to DIY home improvement projects. But doing it solo will add to your stress, whereas a general contractor bears all the burdens and responsibilities of management. They are professionals who can ascertain that tasks are done quickly without compromising quality.

Enjoy Considerable Cost Savings

Although you will have to pay a small number of fees to a general contractor, this is money well-spent because they provide value with better budget control. When you hire someone who is not certified or attempt to renovate something yourself, you save some money but could pay more in the long run to fix mistakes. General contractors possess experience and expertise, so they get things done right the first time.

More importantly, general contractors have a vast network that allows them to buy materials at a bulk discount, allowing you to save money on certain materials. They know which suppliers carry the best materials, and their connections and negotiating skills allow you to enjoy high-quality materials without breaking the bank.

In addition, these suppliers generally charge more when they work directly with building owners. In contrast, they usually charge general contractors less because they have a long-standing working relationship. Bear in mind that general contractors provide suppliers with a steady stream of work, so they are given discounts.

As a result, you can complete your construction project within budget or even under budget on many occasions. This extra money can be used for more construction upgrades or placed back into your savings account. Working with a licensed general contractor equates to someone working round the clock, assuring you have total control of the project from people to the financial aspects.

Take Advantage of Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Construction zones are hazardous because there are many sharp objects, from nails to sharp blades. Injuries like falls and other accidents like inhaling toxic chemicals can readily occur because of the risks. But when you hire a general contractor, you get peace of mind because they provide liability insurance.

This means that you would not be responsible for any construction-related accidents or injuries that occur on your premises. You would not pay workman’s compensation or medical bills. Thus, working with a general contractor assures your project goes on smoothly, following all the safety rules implemented by the county.

Take Advantage of Customizable Services

When you collaborate with a general contractor, you have a dedicated team who will morph your visions into a reality. No matter what type of project you decide to build, these professionals can do it for you. After all, apart from the full-time team, they have an extensive network of suppliers and subcontractors who can pull off any job with ease and excellence.

You can share all your ideas, and they will make it happen for you. You have the option to customize whatever detail or improvisation you want to do for your project. Then, your general contractor will provide different options you can choose from.

Tailor fit solutions like these are readily available to you thanks to the assistance of an experienced general contractor. It is truly worthwhile to invest in quality services if it means you can get what you want without any hassles or stress.

Easy Communication and Feedback

If you try to do your construction project on your own, you may get a headache since you need to deal with many vendors and subcontractors. Remember, any form of miscommunication can lead to issues and project delays.

Having a general contractor at your disposal prevents communication gaps because you have a single point person. You have an expert providing project updates, answering questions, and offering suggestions based on what is happening in the market, such as a sudden price increase of certain supplies.

With a licensed contractor, you can have things under control. He will deal with all the subcontractors and make sure they deliver commitments on time. You can sit back and relax, waiting for feedback on the project.

Improve Property Value

Choosing to work with a general contractor for your home remodel or renovation project will increase your property value. You get a higher value when a professional does your home upgrades versus having an amateur or a hobbyist do it.

Workmanship matters a lot when it comes to the longevity of your upgrades. When professionals do it, you can expect them to last longer because they install everything correctly. Since you are paying so much for materials like paint, fixtures, wood, etc., make sure that a licensed professional handle the installation for optimal results.

Get Expert Guidance From Years of Service

When it comes to renovations and new constructions, general contractors are the experts in the field. They have the education, licenses, and credentials to back up their services. Most of all, they have the experience that only comes with years of service.

Usually, the more experience a person has, the more successful the outcomes because they have been sharpened by time and numerous projects. General contractors are organized, so they get market updates. They will clue you in on where you can save or get higher-quality materials.

More importantly, if there are any problems or emergencies, they can readily pivot and respond with ease. A wealth of experience allows them to make projections and make smart choices to keep things under control. For instance, when a certain construction material gets banned, they have alternative solutions to prevent project chaos.

How to Find the Best General Contractor

Though there are many contractors out there, we are not made equal. You want to find an exceptional contractor with a legitimate firm that has proper licenses and accreditation. More importantly, you want an honest person who listens and communicates well.

Having a general contractor who is easy to work with is such a blessing because you have an ally who cares about seeing your plans to completion. Furthermore, you must find a contractor who fits your personality and who has expertise in the project you want to do. If finding the best general contractor feels overwhelming, you can try our tips to get the right candidate for your project:

  • Word of Mouth Referrals: When looking for a service provider, going with referrals from family and friends top the list. If the people you trust have high regard for a contractor, that means they have done a great job. Best of all, you could even see the results of the contractor’s work by taking a peek at your relative’s or friend’s property.
  • Check the Website: A reputable contractor will have an official website that showcases their services, work gallery, and client testimonials. You can even fill out a contact form to assess how fast they respond to you. For best results, work with a responsive firm that readily answers queries and listens to your ideas.
  • Peruse Online Reviews: In this digital age, we can access 3rd-party online review sites. Check out what past clients say about the general contractor. Steer clear of those with a lot of bad reviews. From here, you can create a shortlist of firms.
  • Conduct Interviews: Speak with several firms on your list so you can get a feel of how they operate. Ask them about past projects. For example, if you want a contemporary home, working with a firm that has a solid portfolio of modern designs is the most ideal. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and assess how they respond to queries.
  • Ask About Credentials: Having a solid portfolio is great, but you still need to check if they have the proper licenses to operate. A legitimate contractor will not hesitate to show you proper government licenses and accreditation because it showcases their credibility.
  • Provides Written Estimates: If you are having a hard time looking for a contractor, make it a point to choose one that provides written estimates. It is important not to be kept in the dark for something as expensive as a construction project. More importantly, all hired work will come with accompanying contracts that stipulate materials, labor fees, time frame, and other incidentals.
  • Read the Fine Print: Once you have a contract, read, and understand the fine print before signing it to avoid future disappointments. A detailed contract will outline everything, such as partial payment dates, materials used, estimated deadlines, etc. It will also pinpoint what happens should there be any delays, faulty materials, or back jobs.

Hiring a general contractor to work on a house remodel or a new build is a decision you must not take lightly. You want an experienced team who can complete the work swiftly within your budget. If you are looking for one in the Long Island, NY area, give our team a call. Our Long Island Home Advisors Team would love to assist you with your home improvement or new construction project.