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Building a Second Floor Addition versus a Room Addition

Deciding on Whether to Build Up or Out on a Home Addition Project

By: Mark J. Donovan

When considering building a second floor addition onto a single story home, the question frequently arises on whether or not it makes better sense to build up with a second floor addition than out with a room addition.


The quick and simple answer is, if you have the land it is probably wiser to add on to the home with a room addition, than it is in building a second floor addition.


Building any home addition is a major enterprise. However, building a second floor addition inherently has more risk, costs, and inconveniences associated with it.


Building a Second Floor Addition Key Considerations


First, it may not even be feasible to build a second floor addition onto the home. Local codes need to be checked to see if building a second story addition is even possible. For example, local zoning laws may not allow for a second floor addition due to such things as impacting the aesthetics of the neighborhood or for creating shade issues on neighboring properties.

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Also, local building codes may be such that the construction of a second floor addition onto the existing single story home may not be allowed.


For example, there may be issues with the home’s existing foundation.  The existing foundation will need to be inspected by the local building inspector, foundation contractor, or an architect to determine if the foundation can support a second floor addition.  Concrete footings and foundation requirements usually vary on the type of home being built. Building a second story addition onto a ranch style home creates significantly more load on the concrete footings and foundation walls. Consequently the footings and foundation walls are typically built wider and stronger for two story homes.


Second, the roof will need to be removed from the home when building a second floor addition. This leaves the home vulnerable to the weather and elements. In addition, the demolishing of a roof in a controlled process takes significant effort and labor which adds to the project costs.


Third, homeowners typically need to find temporary living when building a second floor addition. It is nearly impossible to live in a home that is undergoing a second floor addition, due to the removal of the roof and the dramatic impact to the rest of the home. This also adds cost to the project.


Building a Room Addition - Advantages


With a room addition construction project, on the other hand, the homeowner can be kept isolated from most of the construction until the room addition is nearly complete. In some cases, the entire room addition is completed prior to “punching into” the existing home with a doorway / entranceway.


Finally, although every attempt is made to maintain the integrity of the first floor of the home, inherently there are risks of damage to the first floor ceilings and walls. Ceilings frequently are damaged while the second floor addition is being constructed.


Building a second floor addition is not an impossible undertaking. However, it does require more up front homework and presents more risk to the existing home structure while being constructed. To conclude, if your lot size is small, then a second floor addition maybe your only choice. If on the other hand your lot size is large enough to support an attached room addition, it is probably your better bet, both from cost and inconvenience perspectives.

For more help on building a second floor addition or room addition, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's Home Addition Bid Sheets. The Home Addition Bid Sheets will help ensure that your home building project goes smoothly and is completed on time and budget.

Related Information on Building a Room Addition or Second Floor Addition



Additional Home Building and Room Addition Construction Resources



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Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on building a second floor addition from one of our prescreened and licensed home addition contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your home addition price estimate.






- Building a Second Floor Addition versus a Room Addition -

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