Whether you’re expecting a new member of the family, opening a home-based business or just feeling a need to add more room to your living space, a second story addition to your home may seem like a good idea. Of course, in order to make this idea a reality, it’ll be necessary to take into consideration a fair number of different factors which can and will influence the course of this action. But before you start tearing down the roof, perhaps it’s a good idea to consider some of these things regarding your next undertaking and before you contact a general contractor. Depending on the city and state you reside in there are property and zoning requirements that you have to meet before you can pull an add-on or building permit for your home.

Flood a Second Story Addition with New Windows and Doors

Andersen Windows

Credit: Andersen Windows

A Smart Upgrade

With the era of technology on the rise, it would be foolish not to implement certain smart upgrades into a second story addition. Not only can these advanced upgrades greatly improve the functionality of your household and help you connect your whole home in a simple way, they can also improve the quality of your life as well. Of course, it’s important to inform yourself which of these smart upgrades are going to make a good investment and are suitable for your home. For instance, the question of security is always quite prominent. Adding another story it’ll be necessary to ensure that your home is fully secured. Smart security systems are a wise choice here; while you can also benefit from energy-efficient technologies that can help you control the air quality, temperature and humidity levels in all levels of your home.

Structural Simplicity of A Second Story Addition

Second Story Addition - Home Image

Once you decide to add a second floor, one of the most important things by far is to consider all the structural elements. This applies to both the foundation and the whole frame of the house. If you wish to avoid any structural failure, it’ll be necessary to distribute the weight evenly. This is very important to pay attention to when installing new windows, as the windows on the main floor are supported by existing walls and beams. If you were to install new windows above the existing ones without checking whether the weight is evenly distributed, you could be facing some major structural issues.

Consulting Professional Contractors

This is why it’s crucial to inspect whether the windows and doors on the main floor are in good condition, whether they need replacing or upgrading and based on that to make a plan of your new installations. Unless you are a general contractor none of these decisions should be made without consulting professional door and window installers, structural engineers, architects, and/or a general contractor.

Stairway to Heaven

This might seem like an easier part of the job, but sometimes even the simplest ideas can take their toll. The main problem with adding a staircase is that it’ll take away a considerable amount of space. If there isn’t a more creative solution, perhaps it’ll be necessary to sacrifice the space from another room to add the stairs. Another option is to place the staircase outdoors, but this also requires an empty space outside. And it may not be permitted by the city where you reside or be aesthetically appealing. When talking about additional space, it’s crucial to reserve some space if you wish to install new ductwork for heating and ventilation.

Think like a Mechanic

When thinking about home extensions, it’s necessary to consider all the factors that might impact your plans, whether that’s the position of the master bathroom or the complete heating, water and ventilation system in the house. Of course, as always, there are two different approaches to a problem. Either you’re going to try and cover the complete house with that one, original system, or you’re planning on creating additional installations for the second story addition. Naturally, the latter will consume more time and money, but the decision depends solely on you. Taking into account the requirements of the city building permit and parameters, the square footage of the house and the amount of fixtures you have.

Second Story Addition Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC


When it comes to the electrical part, it’ll be necessary to upgrade your existing panels, so they would be able to produce more power. Also, depending on the type of HVAC system you own, you might need to replace it completely or just add some extra zones to the existing one. Lastly, when talking about plumbing and water installations, it’s wise to consider all of your options. Fortunately, there are a lot of different ways to deliver water to the second story, from tanks and pumps up to independent water systems.

Energy-Efficient Fixtures

This could also be a good opportunity to try and implement certain energy-efficient fixtures into your home, as they can greatly help you not consume as much water, energy and money. From solar and photovoltaic panels, through dual-flush toilets and all the way up to, low-flow showerheads, you can easily transform your home in an eco-friendly haven, that’ll work not just for you and your family members, but for the environment as well.

The Overall Appearance

Another thing that most people tend to overlook when the project is already underway is the finishing touches on the property. Adding a second story is not a minor thing and it’ll greatly affect the overall appearance of your home. It’ll be necessary to remove the whole roof for a full second story addition. Plus add new features such as doors, windows, balconies and even chimneys. This is why it’s really important to carefully plan out the visual part of the project before you begin. This step can greatly help you with the whole planning and organization process, as you might wish to make certain changes on the main floor or even alter the look of the whole house.

James Hardie Siding on a two story home

Exterior Facade

It’s also a good idea to consider the material you’re going to use, especially on the façade and opt for something top quality. In recent years, the appeal for natural cladding systems has grown quite a bit, as they are durable, low-maintenance and also make a very good investment.

In the LA and Orange County area James Hardie siding installation is a great choice if you are not opting for stucco or brick on the exterior of the second story addition.

Surely, a project such as this one demands a lot of time, effort and dedication. Of course, not only will this endeavor not come cheap, but it’ll also require some complex planning, organization skills, zoning and building permits. This is why these 8 things above should be on your list of priorities before starting your project.

Guest author: Lana Hawkins

Edited by: M.Hill