I understand. Ripping off the roof of your existing home to add a second story sounds like a drastic move. And it is.
But the benefits may well be worth the considerable expense and inconvenience.
To start with, second-story additions make it possible to double the square footage in your house.
At the same time, you get to completely remodel your home and stay in the neighborhood you love. Let’s look at these benefits in detail.
1. Gain More Living Space Without Relocating
Many growing families find they simply need more space to be comfortable. This usually means talking to a real estate agent and starting a hunt for a bigger house. But if your existing house is in the perfect setting — surrounded by great amenities and a close-knit community — moving may not feel like the best option. This is especially so when your kids are content in their school, and you don't want to relocate them to a new one.
Adding a second story enables you to acquire the extra square footage you need to accommodate your growing family. And you don’t have to give up the convenience of living in an area that suits your lifestyle.
In addition, you get to retain your family’s invaluable memories.
You get to keep the house that holds your children’s first experiences growing up and avoid the considerable hassle of relocating.
2. Increase the Value of Your Home with a Second Story Addition
The livable square foot area of your house often determines the total price of the property.
A one-story house may have the same price per square foot as a two-story house. But the extra space on the second floor will increase the value of your home.
With real estate prices in Seattle so high, it can make sense to maximize the value of your property by increasing the square footage of your home.
3. You Get to Keep Your Outdoor Space
One of the most overlooked benefits of adding on vertically rather than horizontally is that you get to keep your full yard.
You get to retain your favorite landscape features.
And should you wish to tackle any major landscaping projects in the future, such as adding a pool or deck, you will still have the space to do it.
A second story addition also means that you get to maintain your privacy. You get to increase the square foot area of your home without narrowing the space between you and your neighbors.
In Seattle, many homes are built right up to the setbacks or already take up the largest footprint allowed by zoning. Building up may be the only way to go.
4. You Can Redesign Your Existing Home
One of the drawbacks of adding a second story is that it almost always requires extensive work to your existing house. Your foundation will likely need to be upgraded to support the heavier loads and meet current seismic standards, your roof will need to be replaced, and most of your first-floor walls will need to be taken down to the studs.
It is a major undertaking, but there is a silver lining to all this work. It’s a great opportunity to upgrade and remodel your first floor.
For instance, you can add or upgrade your ducted air conditioning and heighten the ceilings of the first floor. While you’re at it, take care of any faulty structures and pending repairs.
Your remodeler might have to change features such as the exterior and windows of the first story to match the second story. Take this as an opportunity to change their design to your liking, too.
What’s more, an additional story opens up numerous possibilities on what you can do with the extra area.
Depending on the amount of space upstairs, you can also change the layout of your first floor.
Maybe you want to merge bedrooms to create a master suite, expand the kitchen and living room, create an extra bathroom, or repurpose the small rooms.
All these improvements and renovations will help increase the value of your home. More importantly, you will end up with a larger home that is customized exactly to your liking.
5. You Will Avoid the Tight Housing Market in Seattle
It's hard to overstate this point. If you’ve paid any attention to the Seattle housing market, you know that inventory is low, and prices are high. Many homes get multiple cash offers well over asking price, and bidding wars are the norm. Agents often advise buyers to waive contingencies, such as inspections, to make their offers more attractive.
Even if you would rather just move to a different home to avoid a major addition project, you may discover some surprises in your new home that you purchased without an inspection.
Many homeowners I talk to explore a second-story addition precisely because they do not want to have to deal with selling their current home and undertaking the difficult search (and possible bidding war) to buy a new one.
Second story additions offer the flexibility to create exactly what you need . . . without the headaches of buying and selling real estate.
Some homeowners in Seattle may be in the fortunate position to have enough equity in their home to finance an addition.
You get a larger space and enhanced design, without the hassles of house hunting, such as dealing with real estate agents and moving.
See also: 11 Ways to Finance Home Remodeling
How You Can Make Adding the Second Story Worthwhile
Consider Your Plans for the Future
How long do you intend to stay in your current house?
If you are thinking long term or have no plans of relocating at all, work with a contractor to design and build a second story that can withstand the test of time.
Do you plan on expanding your family or bringing more people under your roof?
If yes, ensure that the space created from the second story addition is enough to accommodate future expansions in the family. You can have all the bedrooms in the second story and expand the kitchen and living area on the ground floor. Or you can plan ahead and include a bedroom on the first floor so you can easily accommodate a less mobile family member (or yourself, if you plan to age in place).
Make It Stylish
As I mentioned, adding a second story is a perfect time to revamp your home. Be sure to get the most out of your investment by picking an experienced contractor.
Let your remodeler know your tastes, and they can suggest the best designs to match your desires.
Be open to experimenting with different colors, finishes, and layouts for both your additional and existing space.
If your house is a rectangular shape, an additional story might have a boxy effect on its overall appearance. Discuss with your contractor ways to offset this impression. They can use different features on your new roof, such as overhangs and gables.
The Addition Should Match the Existing House
You will want the second story addition to look like it has always been part of your home. And this means paying attention to all the details in the overall design of the addition.
For instance, there should be matching proportions of individual elements in the first and second story, such as the windows and shutters. The patterns on the exterior walls should be consistent from top to bottom. An experienced design team will help you achieve a cohesive look.
Ready to Add a Second Story to Your Home?
If the thought of moving out of your house when the contractors are adding a second story is holding you back, think of the end results:
- A larger space without leaving your lovely neighborhood or losing your yard.
- Increase in the value of your home. This can eventually compensate you for the costs of the home addition.
- A welcome home makeover.
- No need for stressful house hunting.