Adding partial second story to ranch-style house


Hello,
Our house is a 1600 sqft house in Central Texas not far from Austin with a concrete foundation, built around 1982, and we are considering the addition of a second story over part of the house. We're looking at adding an area above the garage and possibly partially over the living room, which total would be maybe 550-600 sqft added.
Some questions though... what do we need to consider or check with first? I want the new addition to fit as well as possible into the current house and floorplan, in other words, not look obviously like an add-on. Finding a place to add stairs indoors might be tricky, and the outside since the house is brick might also be a feat. Any suggestions on picking out an architect or what to look for? I'm sure doing this isn't too common, so I'm betting few architects will have a huge portfolio of additions going up.
Secondly, we don't live in town, instead we live kind aout in the country and not within any city limits. I'll contact the county and also my title company to get a list of community restrictions, but AFAIK we don't have any city permits or anything smiliar. Any ideas along these lines?
As for cost, has anyone done this recently or know round about what such an addition might cost? We plan on this new space having a bedroom, bathroom, and a second room for an office/study. Nothing too fancy.
And finally, can someone suggest other resources online? I've looked for pictures of before and after with folks doing what we hope to do, but I've not found any. I'd love to see photos taken by someone who went through this same process.
Thanks for any ideas, suggestions, or words of wisdom. Take care,
Alex
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We can only give general answers and maybe provide some questions you need to answer.
The area over the garage may be a bigger problem than the area over the house. When you add a second story to a ranch home the only hidden expense is sometime beefing up the door and window headers and maybe adding a little more support to the center pier system. The exterior stud walls and center dividing walls can normally handle the load. Also it is normal to have to beef up the ceiling rafters to a floor load spec.
When you talk about doing it over the garage there is a tremendous difference in the structure required for the floor load and the existing ceiling load. Often a steel beam is required for "center pier" portion of the garage in order to hold up the floor above.
If you can't solve the stair problem in a pleasing manner scrap the project.
More than likely you will need a building permit from someone, electrical, HVAC and plumbing permits and inspections. Robert, a regular reader and sometimes poster lives in Texas he might be better able to address that issue.
Cost is going to be directly related to the engineering problems that must be addressed in order to build the structure. It is going to be a lot more than you think. Remodeling costs per square foot are considerably higher than buildings costs. I know you want a number so I will make a WILD guess of something between 60 and 125K. Maybe better to find another house.
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You have hit 2 of the 3 basic requirements- check for any covenants or deed restrictions on height or style, which sounds like it isn't a problem for you, and getting a professional designer involved. I'd suggest a 3rd item, and the architect probably will, too, unless he has one in-house. To wit, a site survey by an structural engineer, to see if the foundation and first floor structure can support a second story. Yeah, in theory, architects can do that themselves, but if they are busy, it is easier to job out the nuts'n'bolts non-artiste work. It will help a lot if you can come up with a set of 'as built' plans for the house. Is the original owner still in the area, or is the builder still in business? Sometimes, less populated counties keep the original filed prints that long, but that isn't real common.
As to cost- it ain't gonna be cheap- figure 1.5x to 2x the square-foot costs of a ground level addition. Removing the existing roof, adding that stairwell, weather-protecting existing house during the process, all add quickly to the cost. That is why most people expanding ranch houses go with a 'T' or 'L' off the back, if they have a big enough lot. Much less intrusive to the original structure, and the house remains basically intact through most of the construction process. Usual method is to center the addition on wherever the sliding door to the back yard is, and make that into an archway. That living or dining room is extended far enough to have sliders on one or both sides, with the other new rooms opening off that. To make it not look like an addition, you can sometimes hide the beam that holds up the original roof in the ceiling. As to the outside- you can probably come pretty close to 1982 brick colors, and whatever old brick is torn off can be intermixed with the new brick to avoid a hard transition. If you end up going with a second story instead, those are usually clad with siding, not brick, and the walls are framed and sheathed so that the siding sticks out 2-3 inches past the brick.
aem sends...
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