H & N Custom Homes
Building up places additional mass on top of the existing building, structural upgrades are usually necessary. Typically this means assessing the existing foundation and footing sizes to see if the foundation is capable of carrying the additional loads. The ability of the existing house to resist lateral movement due to earthquakes or wind also needs to be assessed- often, retrofitting is needed to be more securely attach the house to its foundation.
The new floor assembly
To be less disruptive to the existing house, the existing ceiling and ceiling joists are often left in place while a new floor structure is added above them. This allows for electrical lines, recessed can lights, and other elements to remain in the ceiling below the new addition. However, it also results in a very thick floor assembly! This can mean additional stairs are necessary to reach the top floor, (which take up more room) and on the exterior special attention needs to be paid to the resulting proportions, so that the house doesn’t look too top-heavy.
Consider vaulted ceilings on the new upper level
Many times the second story addition can use scissor trusses, which create a vaulted ceiling within the new space. If the roof is being stick-framed (rather than trusses), consider adding vaulted ceilings in master bedrooms or other spaces.Heating and cooling the new space
It’s not always feasible to extend existing heating and/or cooling to the new upstairs, so it’s often easier and better to add separate equipment for the new floor. Usually, the upper level of a home is hotter than the rest of the house, so having a separate system on its own zone will help provide for more comfort in the addition.
Assess where plumbing drains will go in the addition
It’s important to assess how new upstairs bathrooms will connect to existing plumbing below. If there is an existing bathroom below, it may be possible to tie into existing plumbing. Otherwise, drains may need to head down through the main level to a crawl space or basement. The route of the drains, whether it be horizontal or vertical should be planned for in the design phase. Many times, the floor structure will need to be designed to accommodate drains (or even ductwork). This is much more easily accomplished when worked out in the design stage. If left until construction this process will usually result in many on-site changes, which will hold up the project and add to the project cost.
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