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Question DetailsAsked on 12/8/2016

laws for adding a 2nd level to a single level house in watertown wisconsin

am in a single level ranch with no basement or crawl space. House is attached to original 1 car block garage which is also connected to a new 3.5 car garage. Would like to find info on possibly adding an upper level or adding a basement. Which one would be more cost effective

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Typically depends on whether in city limit or just in the county, whether downtown or in suburbs, if near any historic homes or district, andany specific total height (typically about 26-28 feet in 2-story subdivisions) or number of story covenants in the plat for your specific subdivision - a visit to the local Planning and Zoning board can answer most of those type restrictions questions.

Or, since you will almost certainly need an Architect (your Search the List category) for the design (both for bidding and construction documents, and for the design plans and specs needed to get a building permit), an Architect in your area specializing in residential construction and remodels can easily find that out for you.

Adding an upper level is almost certain to be cheaper than adding a basement under an existing house since you say no basement or crawl space, especially over a garage where some water leakage while the roof is off is less critical than over the house itself. Course, pity to tear into the new 3.5 car garage which has a new roof. Rarely, but sometimes it is feasible to free up and raise the entire roof with a crane - but rarely economic and high risk of damaging it anyway. However, building over a 1 car garage - which would be simple in most cases - does not give you much additional floor space for the hassle of raising the roof - but if an old roof that will need replacement soon anyway, that might be a way to get the most bank for your buck and kill two birds with one stone.

One thought on the one-story ranch house - because you say no basement or crawlspace, given the frost depth in your area, unless this was a DIY house by some individual (which might cause problems trying to modify it because foundation may not be to code already), but with no deep foundation sounds like maybe a trailerhome or manufactured home - would would almost never be able to handle a second story over it anyway without MAJOR rework on the wall framing - something to talk about with the architect, because it might rule out that location for the second story totally. Or, alternatively, might make the basement option look real good if that is the case, because a mobile home or manufactured home is designed to be lifted up and moved, so MUCH easier to jack it up (however, taking into account HOW it is connected to the old garage and if old garage can take the house being disconnected from it) and build a new basement under it - so in that case that might well turn out to be the best option AND give you a much warmer house.

Architect can advise on conceptual designs and rough construction cost estimate for your options - unfortunately, for a given square footage, IF you count new basement space as part of the living space square footage, it is commonly cheapest to build a one or more commonly even cheaper a two story addition with basement of the square footage you want. However, with a new 3 story garage which presumably would be able to handle an added story on top without significant structural upgrades to the ground level, that might be the cheapest route - tear off the roof, slide joists and rafters or trusses over to one end, build new walls for about half, move all the roofing structure onto that, build second half walls, slide roofing structure (piece by piece) over onto the new walls and finish sheathing and reroofing. With any luck, especially if the sheathing was screwed down rather than nailed, the roof tearoff and structural members move would take 1-2 days depending on crew size, a couple of days to put the new upper story floor in and walls up (especially if walls are prebuilt on the ground and lifted up by crane) - with a good contractor the new story could be roughed in and roofed in a week give or take - another few days to install exterior water barrier and siding and windows (or at least weather block over window openings and within 2 weeks, with proper planning and decent crew size and maybe (depending on roofing system, if it used large trusses) a crane for a day, you could be dried in and ready for plumbing,mechanical, electrical, drywall, windows, etc. Course, get a bad contractor or one who bit off more than he could chew and it could be a year to that point - which is a main reason I almost never recommend a second story addition over current living space. But over a garage, especially if not interior finished - that makes delays much less of a weather risk while the roof is off and until new upper story is sided and window openings are at least sealed if not windows installed.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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