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What to Know Before Adding a Second Story to Your House

You love your home, but it isn’t big enough anymore. As families grow and space needs change, many homeowners face the dilemma of needing more room. Instead of relocating in an unfavorable housing market, adding a second story to your house can be a transformative solution. A second-story addition offers a strategic way to enhance your living space without sacrificing your beloved location. Whether you add bedrooms, a home office, or an entertainment area, this significant modification requires careful planning and understanding of what such a renovation entails. Bromwell is a Delaware construction expert, and we’re happy to use our knowledge to help you decide if adding a second story is right for you.

Second-story addition above 2-car garage in Wilmington, DE by Bromwell Construction

Evaluating the Feasibility of Adding a Second Story

Can You Add a Second Story to a House?

Before you dream too big, it's crucial to determine if your existing home can handle the additional weight of a second story. Not all structures are built to support additional floors without significant modifications. In Delaware, where many homes range from historic to modern, the variability in structural integrity is vast. Your construction team will assess your home’s foundation and overall structure to determine if a second story is feasible or if enhancements are needed to fortify the existing framework.

How Do You Know If Your Foundation Can Support a Second Floor?

The foundation is the bedrock of any home addition, especially when considering building upwards. The foundation requirements for adding a second story can differ in Delaware, where soil conditions can vary significantly from coastal areas to inland spots. A structural engineer will evaluate the foundation’s current state and may recommend underpinning (digging down and creating a new floor and support walls) or reinforcing it to ensure it can handle the extra load.

Primary bedroom with sliding door to balcony in Delaware home remodel

Understanding the Process of Building Up

How to Add a Second Story to a House

Embarking on a second-story addition in Delaware involves several critical steps, beginning with a detailed assessment and planning phase. As a design-build remodeler, Bromwell Construction integrates architectural design and construction services under one roof, streamlining the process and enhancing communication throughout the project.

The first step is a detailed consultation to capture your vision and requirements. Our in-house design team then develops architectural plans tailored to your needs while ensuring compliance with local building codes and zoning regulations. 

Following design approval, we handle all aspects of the permitting process to ensure your project meets all state and local requirements without delay. With permits in hand, our construction team takes over. Skilled in complex structural projects, they manage everything from safely stripping the existing roof to constructing the new upper level, ensuring every phase meets our high standards for quality and safety.

Cost and Return on Investment of a Second Story

How Much Value Does a Second Story Add to Your Home?

A second-story addition can significantly increase the square footage of your living space, which generally translates into a higher property value. In Delaware, where space is at a premium, this addition can be particularly lucrative at resale. However, the actual return on investment (ROI) can vary based on several factors, including the quality of construction, the nature of the added space, and current market conditions. Adding a second story typically includes additional bedrooms and bathrooms, which are highly sought after in the real estate market and can substantially increase your home’s resale value. 

custom two car garage addition with deck above

Is It Worth Adding a Second Story?

Deciding whether it is worth adding a second story should take into account both the financial investment and the impact on your quality of life. Financially, you'll need to consider the upfront costs of construction, which include design, materials, labor, and possibly temporary relocation expenses. From a lifestyle perspective, the added space can give your family much-needed room to grow and avoid the stresses of moving to a new house. For many homeowners in Delaware, adding a second story is justified by the dual benefits of increasing living space without forfeiting their current property and neighborhood.

Do I Have to Move Out During Construction?

The answer largely depends on the scope of the project and your personal tolerance for disruption. While it's possible to stay in your home during some phases of construction, there are periods, particularly during the initial stages of demolition and structural reinforcement, when it may be safer and more practical to temporarily relocate. Factors such as noise, dust, and the necessity of disconnecting utilities like electricity and water can make staying in your home challenging. Discussing timelines and major project milestones with your contractor can help you make a plan regarding temporary accommodation.

Important Features to Consider for a Second-story Addition

Energy Efficiency

Incorporating energy-efficient features is essential for maintaining manageable heating and cooling costs, especially with an additional floor. Consider using high-performance insulation, energy-efficient windows, and HVAC systems designed for the increased volume of space. 

Wilmington, DE bathroom remodel with tile flooring and vessel sink with window

Sound Insulation

Sound travels easily between floors, so adding soundproofing materials to the floor joists during the construction of your second story can significantly improve the acoustic separation between levels. This is particularly important if the new floor will include bedrooms or home office spaces.

Lighting and Electrical Considerations

A second-story addition often requires reevaluation of your home’s electrical system to ensure it can handle the additional load. Planning for adequate lighting, both natural and artificial, is crucial. Skylights, larger windows, and strategic placement of LED fixtures can enhance the space's brightness and airiness. Ensure that your electrical plan includes plenty of outlets and potentially even smart home features for modern convenience.

Delawaree living room addition above garage with skylight and windows by Bromwell Construction

Access and Staircase Placement

The placement of the staircase is a pivotal decision in second-story additions. It needs to be easily accessible and well-integrated into the floor plan without disrupting the flow of either the existing or new level. We will have to reconfigure the layout on your main floor to accommodate the new staircase, which may provide an opportunity to address some shortcomings in your current living space while we are at it.

Aesthetic Continuity

Maintaining a sense of continuity between the old and new sections of your home is important for a cohesive look. This might involve matching exterior materials and architectural styles, as well as interior finishes like trim, flooring, and door hardware. 

Walk-in closet with vertical built-in shelving with black and white square floor tile in Delaware home addition by Bromwell Construction

Ventilation and Heating/Cooling

Proper ventilation and climate control ensure comfort in your new second story. This might involve extending the current HVAC system or installing a new system to accommodate the additional space. 

Bromwell Builds Your Second Story in Delaware

Nothing is more aptly named. Adding a second story to your home gives your home and your family a fresh new start. If you’re considering adding a second story to your home in Delaware, Bromwell Construction is here to help. Our experienced team can guide you through every step of the process, from the initial design to the final finishes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward transforming your home into the space of your dreams.

Greater Delaware Home Remodeling Cost Guide