Adding a second level to your home seems like a huge project; after all, you’re potentially doubling your square footage and creating a whole floor of new space for your family to live. Family Home tells us that “A second storey extension (or first-floor addition) is a great way of transforming your home to add more space and increase its value”.
To help you through this challenge, we’re answering the biggest questions you have about adding a second storey to a house.
What to consider when adding a second storey
AddStyle explains that before you can even begin considering construction work on your second storey addition, you need to check in with your local zoning office or council. They may have height restrictions or requirements for you to add another level to your home. Generally, if you have neighbours with second storeys, you should be fine—but always ask first.
Legal Eagle Contractors outlines the importance of checking whether or not your existing foundations will be able to handle the extra weight. Some one-storey homes are not capable of holding up another level in its current state, in which case you may need to have it reinforced or consider a ground-floor extension instead.
When designing for a second storey, you need to look at the bigger picture. How will your existing ground floor work with the new floor? Do you need to change the proportions of existing fittings like windows or doors? Will your home still have a visually-appealing facade? An architect will help you look at some of your design options before finalising the contract.
Adding a second storey is not a project you should rush because mistakes can be costly and dangerous. Depending on how extensive the renovation is, you can finish in as little as 12 weeks for small additions or over a year for a larger and more complex layout.
Alternate living space
Most of the time, construction won’t significantly interfere with your daily living. The work can be isolated to a certain area of the house, especially if you’re renovating above the garage. But for more extensive work, you may have to struggle with uncomfortable living conditions or find a temporary living situation, even if for just a few days or weeks.
We’ll go into detail later about how much you can expect to pay for a second storey addition, but for now, it’s important to understand that this isn’t a cheap renovation. It’s a huge investment, but it’s often a cost-effective one as well. The overall cost depends on many factors, like size, layout, and what kind of materials you use (such as if you’re adding to a brick house or a cement one).
Second storey ideas & floor plan example
You have many options for adding a second storey to your building, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Some people may want to build a completely new upper level from scratch which includes tossing the old roof. Others may already have a second storey and would simply like to expand it. Still others may want a modular second storey built offsite, then later transferred to their homes to save on time.
Whether you’re doing a full or partial vertical expansion, the biggest challenge you will face is integrating it into your current design. You want to avoid looking blocky, unsightly, or otherwise tacked on without any thought.
Here are some floor plan layouts and extension ideas to give you inspiration for your renovation.
How much does adding a second storey cost?
As we’ve already mentioned, costs can vary depending on how much work needs to be done. According to Hi-Pages Most Australians pay between $1850 and $3300 per square metre. Whether your expansion is cheap or expensive is affected by several things.
Expenses will go up if the plumbing or wiring needs to be reworked. Reusing your old roof will save you much more money than if you have to build a new one from scratch. Also, labour costs in Sydney versus those in Perth (and other areas) are a major contributing factor to your final price tag.
No matter what number you come up with for your budget, add a buffer of about 20% to account for unknown expenses and contingencies. And if that number is terrifyingly high (often in the $200k range)? Just compare it to how much you would have to spend by moving to a new home. More often than not, your second storey addition will come out cheaper!
How to add a second storey
There are many renovation projects you can DIY, especially if you’re particularly handy around the home. Adding a second storey is not one of them.
This construction project is actually quite difficult and requires a team of skilled tradies, architects, and engineers to pull off. But even if you can’t do it on your own, there are still some things you should know when going about adding a second storey.
- Do research on everything beforehand: the designs you want, your contractors, and your neighbourhood’s zoning and building regulations.
- Get quotes and designs from different contractors. You might be able to get a better deal elsewhere.
- If you don’t already, get insurance to cover any damages that might occur during construction, or make sure that your contractor accepts liability in their contract.
- Plan for unexpected costs and furnishings; double-check with your designer if your budget is realistic and flexible enough to accommodate changes.
- If you have issues with the design or execution, tell your contractor immediately. It is easier (and cheaper) to fix during construction rather than after.
- Always inspect the property before they hand over the keys.
Hi-Pages tells us that “A good builder with extensive experience can get a second storey addition to a waterproof stage of completion in two to three weeks”. Adding a second storey to your home isn’t an impossible task. With the right contractors, you can increase your square footage, improve the property’s value, and breathe easier in your new home.
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