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Adding A Second Floor To Your Existing House: What To Know

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After living in a residential home for some time, expanding the living space may become desirable. You might want to add an additional floor of living space onto your existing house. Adding a second floor is a good way to increase livable square footage without affecting the size of your yard or driveway. However, putting in that additional floor could be a challenge if you go into it unprepared. What second floor details should you start thinking about?

Checking Zoning Rules

You might think that the town you live in doesn't care what you do on your personal property, but guidelines do exist. Zoning laws are meant to ensure that a municipality maintains certain standards; your house is likely in a residential zone with its own rules. Contact the zoning officer or office in your city to learn what rules exist for adding additional floors or increasing floor area in your home. There could be restrictions which affect your building plans. Once you're sure zoning isn't an problem, ensure you also seek appropriate permits.

Checking Structural Reinforcement Needs

Even if your plans are cleared by the zoning office, you'll need to do an in-depth, accurate assessment of the health of your foundation and first floor. The structure of the existing house needs to be able to withstand the extra weight that another floor will put on it. Therefore, you need to have an evaluation done and then work on structural reinforcement needs that arise. 

For example, you may need a structural reinforcement contractor to assess the foundation's integrity; are there existing cracks or soil problems around the foundation? A structural reinforcement contractor can determine whether your foundation requires additional footings or soil compaction before a second floor is possible. They will also look for places on the first floor where additional columns might be necessary to support another floor of living space.

Considering Additional Ongoing Costs

You might be solving a living space problem by adding another floor, but you must remember ongoing costs that will need attention once the floor is added. For instance, your utility costs may go up as you add heating, plumbing and other systems to the new floor. Think about how that could affect your monthly bills and finances.

With preparation, adding a second floor is more manageable. Discuss a plan with your structural reinforcement contractors and other professionals right away so you can ensure the floor can be added without trouble.