We’ve had the privilege of building so many second story add-ons in San Diego. They are super fun to build but definitely require more skill than a one-story room addition. Tying into an existing building and ensuring that the new floor is supported structurally is the primary concern. Both the code and General Contractor involved is focused or should be building the new room to be supported by the existing foundation. These days with the DIY, Houzz and remodeling glamour shows it seems to have created an ideology that contracting can be done by anyone with a pneumatic nailgun, some laborers and material/hardware. This, in fact couldn’t be farther from the truth. To find a good carpenter, general contractor is a craftsman that has an engineering mind but can gracefully transition the new structure aesthetically, while passing the inspection phases with flying colors. Although, we are still working on this second story here are some items most homeowners do not assume that can be extremely stressful/require talent to build. These are just a few misconceptions I’ve found that are usually lost from the conceptual idea to how building really happens on the field.
Great, I love to sip a cup of coffee in the morning outside too. But…keep in mind you will need a different elevation for these outdoor hangouts. With rain and other outdoor elements you need to channel water and debris toward one side (with drainage) so you do not have stagnant water. Controlled water is your best friend in construction, un-controlled water this is where you have issues. So it is essential you pitch the floor to avoid moisture issues and damage to fluid that would otherwise settle. Why are two elevation differences on one floor plan difficult? Well, just think in these terms – anytime you are doing more customization and do not build homogenously things get tricky. You will have to take the framing by each phrase and stop, build and carry on. It is much easier to build one uniform elevation where you have a production line of someone cutting your joists, someone passing them and someone installing. With a deck you likely need to take your time and complete one-phase looking at specific engineering plans and having the team cool there jets to avoid building errors.
Are you breaking down the entire frame or do you have something to build off of? Remember matching or adding on to structures is not as easy as “new construction”. Many homeowners want to build a new room on top of a garage or existing structure and think “this should be easy, in fact – the work is already half done…just build on top!” Again, this isn’t true.
Let’s take building on top of a garage for example. Yes, you will have an existing base/structure assuming it is not effected by termites or in solid condition to build off. You need to take into consideration that the new floor to support the second story is likely to require different specs for the new weight and foot-traffic. After all a garage roof has the occasional roofer but mainly just has some wind and rain so of course adding furniture and other heavier items will likely change how the floor should be crafted. When taking out the existing garage roof you need to be cautious. Likely the garage door is fastened to the roof so how will you keep this in place or dis-assemble? Also when you take the roof out, you must tie off/support the existing walls. All of this may sound easy but in fact it requires an experienced specialist to avoid any injuries or huge damage to the house.
Taking imitative is a great trait and also it is very cool to work with homeowners that have an interest in remodeling. However, it is not always advised to take too much charge on remodeling. Again, be careful what you’ve watched or seen on TV. Most general contractors have a network of subs and vendors who they’ve worked with for years after filtering through and building trust. We’ve worked with our engineer/architect for over 10 years and it’s unlike a relationship that you can get from just handing over plans after one session. Our advice is to find a contractor or if architect you hire as a team. This is much smarter and will yield a much more professional timeline and save you money. By not having to redo plans or avoiding miscommunications you are streamlining your project. Also if you hire a general contractor that works with an architect they can refer to each other in regards to the carpentry, design and code vs having a disconnect during the project. You’ll want to hire a general that has subs that get along and make the project fun and structurally correct.
So there you have it, here are just some nuances I’ve seen that homeowners tend to overlook. With building back up it is as crucial as ever to hire an experienced professional as many contractors are getting back in the game. A good team will get your project closer to your ideal dream and you will save a great deal of money doing the task once, paying for materials and labor once.