Sarah Mitchell

The addition of a second story, also known as building up, is typically a preferred way to bump up the size of your living space without having to relocate or purchase a bigger residential property.

Whether you’re looking to stay closer to your work or city, or enjoy mild weather and plenty of sunshine where you are, building up has more perks than building out. Apart from having more space, you get the opportunity to redesign the first story of your house. You also increase the value of your property.

Although building up appears as a more straightforward form of home expansion, you shouldn’t pursue this major construction project with less consideration and research.

Before you upgrade your one-story house, keep the following factors in mind:

Zoning Regulations

Before you even think about hiring a contractor, pay a visit to the government zoning office in your area. They’ll tell you if adding a second story is OK. If they say yes to your home extension, inquire about the total structure height.

Many zoning and building codes only allow the top of a building to be above the grade level. You, therefore, have to do some quick and accurate calculations to find out just how tall your home would be when you add a second story.


Be prepared to shell out thousands of dollars to add a second floor to your home. This is especially true if you’re planning a full-story addition.

You can trace the cost to a range of factors, including the fact that second-story additions are complex. You, for instance, should figure out if the bottom floor of your property could structurally support a second story. This might entail adding structural elements to your current story or additional near the foundation. What’s clear, though, is that both options cost a lot of money.

That’s not all you need to worry about. You also have to factor in everything you need to run up the second floor — HVAC, electrical lines and plumbing.

This isn’t to say that a steep cost should discourage or prevent you from fulfilling your dream of adding a second story to your house. Sometimes, this home construction project is the right move, especially if your is too small to “build out” or you love your neighborhood. If price is going to be an issue, come up with a savings plan or look for financial options that can reduce the cost of construction.

second floor window
Photo by Arun Sharma on Unsplash

Placement of the Stairs

An experienced designer can help you decide where your stairs should go.

When deciding on the location of your second-story home, you need to consider where the first floor starts and where the second floor ends.

The ideal placement is when the stairs start once you first enter your house on the first floor and end in the center of your home. This makes the bathrooms and bedrooms easily accessible without eating up too much hallway space.

If the center of your house won’t work, don’t fret. An alternative you could consider is the smallest bedroom on the first floor.

Chaos During Construction

If you choose or insist on staying in your house during the construction of the second story, be prepared. Things will get chaotic.

As a homeowner, you can expect every room to be noisy, crowded and sometimes dusty. If staying around isn’t an option, consider looking for a hotel, staying at a friend’s home or residing at a temporary shelter.

Despite the chaos caused by the construction phase, you’ll be glad to know that the end result is often worth it. Once the second story of your house is complete, you’ll enjoy improved curb appeal and increased resale value.


“When” you build up is equally important to “how” you build up. If the addition of a second story will be extensive, plan around the weather in your area. The rainy season, for instance, is going to be difficult when you take out the roof and lay the frame and subfloor in the new story.

The extension of your home can also be disruptive to your home life. Given this, you’ll want to plan around children’s school schedules, big life events or anything else that might be difficult to navigate during a major renovation.

Consider working closely with a great design-build team who will do everything necessary to produce the best second story with the least disruption to your everyday life.

Building an additional level in your house is a difficult, but not impossible, project. Once you have that second story, though, use that additional space to improve your living experience.

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