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Is building up, digging down or adding on the most effective way to maximize your house’s potential? Here’s what to think about before incorporating another story to your home.


Incorporating space to your home at the second and even third story can capture panoramas, maximize square footage on a modest lot and let you situate all the bedrooms on a single level. All that space can come at a high cost. A second story can dramatically impact the other parts of your home, and that often means structural reinforcement on other levels.

Whole-house Impact

The layout and functionality of a second-story addition will have a domino effect on the remainder of your home– everything from textures to technical work to structural configuration. A good design will make the second story appear like it was always intended, so take the necessary time to ensure sure the addition helps for your curb appeal and your home’s functionality.

Second stories require structural support that includes adding plywood and steel connections at main-level walls and down into the foundation to meet code requirements. This is particularly important in areas with seismic risk and with older homes.

A new staircase usually means taking a bite out of your existing main-floor rooms, which can impact the use of those rooms and the traffic flow. Sometimes a little creative thinking is required.


Your furnace, HVAC and electrical panel all work based on your home’s square footage and the amount of fixtures you have. You have to revisit all of these systems when you increase the size of your home.

Electrical panels are typically upgraded to 200 amps, and HVAC systems may be replaced, accessorized to or have new zones added, according to whether they are radiant or forced-air systems. Hot water may be delivered in a variety of ways– from tankless heaters with recirculating pumps to tank systems and separate on-demand units dedicated to a master bathroom. You could consider adding an energy-efficient system too, like ductless heat pumps, geothermal units and solar-assisted water systems or panels.


When you add a story to your home and have a masonry chimney, you will want to remove the chimney or build it up (with brick or a metal flue) to above the roof level. This might be a simple decision, particularly if you never make use of your fireplace or wish to convert to a gas fireplace.

It’s also possible to save a wood-burning fireplace and remove a detached mechanical chimney by replacing outdated equipment with new energy-efficient units that can vent horizontally (rather than vertically). The space that a mechanical chimney occupied can also become a convenient chase for duct work, plumbing or electrical to connect to the second floor.

Windows, Doors & Siding

The key elements of the building envelope become big question marks with second-story additions: Should you try and match them? If structural work at the main level requires removing half of the siding, you may wonder whether or not the whole house should have new siding.

Making these decisions early at the same time is key. When the project is already started is sure to cause delays, going back to order windows for half a house.

When engineering requires old siding and sheathing to be removed from your home’s exterior, it also presents the chance to install new insulation. Installing fiberglass batts or even rigid insulation in the studs is a great way to improve the energy efficiency of your whole home.

Often the finishes of your existing home– door style, trim sizing, Sheetrock finish, flooring– can dictate the finishes in your addition. Adding a new story allows you to revisit every finish.


A component of the demolition process for second-story additions is removing the entire roof system. A contractor experienced with these sort of remodels will have protection systems to keep rain out, but it won’t be feasible to live within them.

A project of this particular size nearly always requires vacating your home for the whole project. You’ll get to move back into a home that’s doubled in size and is 100 percent ready.

Contact DMJ Rstorations for your FREE consultation!