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Home Renovation Series, Part 6: Second Storey Additions

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Published on
December 31, 2013

This is the sixth and final post in our home renovation series, where we’ve explored some popular home additions and remodels. Be sure to check out the other four posts in this series!

Why would you consider a renovation that requires you to literally remove the roof? Well, sometimes building up is a better option that building down (adding a basement) or building out (adding a room or wing to your home). And if you need more space but moving simply isn’t an option, than adding a second storey to a bungalow or other single-story dwelling can double your square footage.

What Should I Know About Second Storey Additions?

Adding a second story to your house isn’t the easiest reno you can do, and it’s definitely hire-a-professional territory. Here are some of the things you should consider if you’re thinking about adding another storey to your house:

Legal Stuff. Like almost all renovations, you’ll need permits to add a second floor. However, some neighborhoods have height or building restrictions; check out what your local zoning allows before proceeding, or ask your contractor to do so.(Likely, he or she will already be familiar with local restrictions.)

Structural Stuff. Your foundation is the most important part of your house; stress it too much and bad things will happen. Your contractor will have to make sure your foundation can support the additional load. And adding a second story will also entail structural work inside the house to make sure nothing comes crashing down from the floor above. (Again, these calculations are something that all responsible contractors will take care of before any work is started.)

The Roof? Coming Off. You may be able to place it on again, as-is, or you may need to have another roof constructed from scratch. Either way, this is a big job, and most likely one that will require you to find alternative accommodations for a time.

Utilities. You may need to upgrade your existing heating and AC systems, or add additional systems. At the very least, you’ll probably be adding new zones to the current heating and cooling plan.

Exterior Design. To avoid the dreaded mushroom-top look, you’ll want to make sure your addition works with the architecture of your house. This means matching window sizes and styles, plus ensuring that the siding (or equivalent), trim, and other decorative features mesh.

Cost. On average, second storey additions cost anywhere from $135,000 to 200,000 – and that’s just for modest additions. In some markets, prefab modular second-storey additions can cut down on time and labor costs, but they also limit design choices.

What are the Benefits of a Second Story Addition?

If you’re thinking “Yikes! It would be easier to move!” you’re probably right. But finding a new house isn’t always possible, especially considering that the average price for a home in the Ottawa area is well north of $300,000.

In a nutshell, here’s what you’d gain from a second storey addition:

• Double the space. That goes without saying.

• The ability to stay in the neighborhood you love.

• More square footage. This will increase the selling price of your house, should you decide to put it on the market; the return on investment for second storey additions is round the 60% mark.

• You most likely won’t need foundation work, as you would with renos that build out.

• You don’t have to complete it all at once. Once the outside is finished and the inner structure is done, you can finish the rooms as your timeline and budget allows.

Image: Shutterstock/Franck Boston

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