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The Cost of Adding a Second Floor Vs. an Addition

When looking to remodel, many waver between adding a second floor or opting for an addition. To resolve this, we can go back to that popular construction saying: It’s cheaper to build up than build out. But be warned that while building up might be more economically viable than building out, it’s not without investment. Apart from costs, there are many factors to contend with before deciding whether to build up or out.

Should I Build Up or Build Out?

We give you both sides to make your job easier and allow you to look at all angles before deciding whether you need an additional floor or a new structure. 

Building Up For Maximum Efficiency

When you add another level to your existing home, you’re essentially increasing its usable square footage without increasing your house’s footprint. It’s important to consider that your roof systems and foundation remain the same when you’re building up, and the additional costs involved here will include the second-story floor and the wall systems.

Building out involves many of the costs of building up, plus material and labor for two of the most expensive elements of home construction: the new foundation and the roof. There will also be basement and excavation costs and structural issues to ensure that the roofline and walls remain strong with the new addition. Homeowners should weigh several other challenges up-front when building out:

  • Houses expanding out will increase heating and cooling requirements compared to homes spread upwards.
  • You will lose yard space. If you don’t have a big yard surrounding your home, you may not have the option of building out.
  • You may need to open a wall to connect your home to your new addition.
  • Considerations of Floor-Area-Ratio and property line setbacks may limit you.
  • Additionally, consider power and sewage lines in your building-out budget.

But this is not to say that building out doesn’t have its advantages too.

Consider the Luxuries of Building Out

For one, the construction phase is more likely to affect your comfort and lifestyle during a build-up process; it’s challenging for many homeowners to fathom staying in the house while second-floor construction work is ongoing. Conversely, there are fewer disturbances when building out, and, for the most part, you can stay in the house. The severity of disruption for any new build depends on your remodeling project’s exact location and size.

As per local laws, building up can have the distinct disadvantage of height restrictions. Additionally, building up may cost you quite a bit of living space when you put in the necessary staircase. Building up requires careful architectural and structural engineering to pull off. Once complete, you might notice that your existing home’s floors, walls, and finishes need to be touched up or repaired.

Building out instead of building up will provide you with more creative freedom. An area where building out is especially advantageous is the ceiling styles and heights it affords you, allowing you to experiment without being restricted by height laws. While any addition should blend in with your home, building up demands a more stringent level of consistency.

With building out, upkeep becomes easier, particularly for the outside walls, gutters, and roof maintenance. It is also easier for those with mobility issues to navigate a separate structure than to manage stairs. The most crucial element, of course, is whether your foundation is strong enough to expand upwards in the case of building up. Without a sufficiently firm foundation, adding the weight of a second floor will be far more expensive to ensure safety and stability than starting on solid new ground. Finally, you will need to remove some of the roof and parts of the existing house to make a build-up work. As a result, building up can take significantly longer than building out since it involves removing the roof and other structural changes.

Choosing a Path

Now that you know the pros and cons of both options, it should be easier to decide which route suits you best, keeping in mind the condition of your existing home, budget, location, and property size. Remember that building up and building out both require close attention to building codes, local rules and regulations, and zoning laws. You must obtain the correct permits and licenses, so be mindful of getting these elements sorted. Finally, a reputable contractor can remove the bulk of these issues from your plate by helping you pick the best fit for your home and then seeing it through to the finish line.

Contact Us Today

We’ve given you the advantages and disadvantages of building up vs. building out. Still, irrespective of your route, remodeling can be time-consuming and thought-provoking. At Owings Brothers, we have the right expertise to help you do either, and with the same result: a home that will offer a fantastic return on investment and happiness for you and your family. Contact us today to see how we can build your dream home.