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Question DetailsAsked on 5/27/2014

Plan to build a major addition, 50 yr old home. Where best to start for feasibility of adding 2nd story to current

This is 1000 Sq ft lakehouse with some idiosyncrasies. Used as a weekend home we want to expand it as retirement home. Need to determine whether building up or out is better option as well as other basics such as septic, drain field, well water adequacy or expansion. We know we will need an architect, but basic questions about feasibility of our ideas within framework of what is already there need to be answered. Who or what type of company do we start with? Thank you.

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Voted Best Answer

You might be best off getting either an architect or an engineer for an initial consult, it would probably cost around $150 or so. Many summer homes are built to less than code and there may be structural issues with adding a second story. Some General Contractors have almost more knowledge than the architects but you will need the engineer's or architect's stamp to proceed with permits. If you have a well respected GC in the area you might get a free estimate or consult from him.

Even the architect will have to get engineers reports for the septic system, on a normal addition to a year round home the size of the system is usually based on the number of bedrooms and I have done add-a-levels where bedrooms were removed from the first floor to enlarge the livingroom and other such rooms on the first floor so the town did not require an upgrade. Problem being with your home is it was seasonal and may be undersized already.

You say this will be your retirement home and that may be one reason to go out instead of up as it gets harder to climb those stairs with time. Though some find it actually help keep you in shape. Alot depends on your lot conditions as to size, zoning and even soil conditions.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


As Don said, you need an Architect to prepare construction plans and to assist with Planning and Zoning and Building Department coordination, and if making changes that would increase septic tank loading, a Civil Engineer for an assessment and design of any additional capacity needed for septic,, as well as well test for adequacy. So, starting off with selecting an architect and having an initial on-site discussion on options and general design concept for maybe $300 range is a good and necessary first step, followed by a check of P&Z/Building Code/other permit requirements before you commit to this project.

IT is VERY rare that a build-up is cheaper than an addition next to the house - vertical additions are usually only done if the owner REALLY wants to do it as an added floor to maintain a compact house, it is a high-ceiling cape or full gable roof with high headroom that supports converting the attic to living space without actually building a whole new story, or if land availability or zoning restricts construction vertical rather than add-on, as in small lots or ones where septic tank/leach field or well locations restrict access for lateral expansion. Vertical additions also involve opening up the roof so preventing water damage in the existing home is a critical factor, and of course results in almost total disruption of the house throughout construction, commonly demanding moving out for at least several weeks and sometimes months during the major demo and added story addition until dry-in, whereas an addition usually results in a few hours a couple of times to at most a couple of days of significant in-house disruption while plumbing and electric are cut in to the new addition.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


A good general contractor with knowledge of requirements in your area will probably be able to give you a lot of ideas at little to no cost. If you can't find one you will have to enentually anyway if you are going to proceed with the project. In the mean time an architect can give you ideas on design but won't be able to help you very much with septic considerations in most cases. You will have to pay for his services/consultation. An engineer can answer structural questions for you and a sanitation engineer will be needed regardless of who you speak to for information about the septic system. Sometimes the county can be a big help in answering questions about your septic and well systems if they have plans on file. They can tell you how much you are allowed to add with the current systems.

Answered 6 years ago by Todd's Home Services


When Todd says a "sanitation engineer" for septic design issues, you will not find that as an AL catagory - category you need for that is Civil Engineer, then whenn contacting them check that is in their line of work - or google your town name plus "septic design" or "leach field design" to find names, then cross-check those against AL reviews by company name.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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