Some pictures of my house are at:
This is actually a three story house. The third floor is basically one
nice big bedroom, plus a shower, a bat, and toilet. 5 bedrooms, 4.1
bathrooms. 3400 square feet above ground plus basement.
The wall studs are 2x4s spaced 16 inch apart.
What I am thinking is
1. expanding second floor to continue over the garage and
2. making this third floor the same dimensions as the whole house,
instead of it being one big room it would be much bigger, same size as
first and second floor.
My questions are:
1. Is this feasible architecturally/structurally?
2. How much such a thing could cost (some top limit).
3. Am I likely to get a permit for it?
4. Is this so crazy that I should give up even thinking about it?
5. How much value would be added to the house, compared to the amount
spent, given that the house is in a nice neighborhood comprised of
nice but not excessive 4 bedroom homes.
I'm not in the trades, so I'll leave questions 1-3. But I am a homeowner
(and one considering a major expansion as well), so I'll give my take on
Is it crazy? Not if you really need the space. You house *looks* pretty
castle-esque from the outside, but people don't live on the outside, and
photos can be deceiving. If you're just wanting to expand for the sake
of expanding, it just means you have too much money ;)
I think "value" is something that people who want to expand wrestle with
all the time, but it's kind of hard to answer in one specific way
because "value" means different things to the people who live there, to
the banks, to the resale buyers, and to what the local market will bear.
Even major expansions that would be outlandish and foolish in one
neighborhood would make total sense in the neighborhood right next to
it. The final authority would be the bank because they're pretty
sensitive to the cost/value equation involved, but other than that, I
think the answer lies more in whether you'd be expanding to bring your
home more in line with the others in the neighborhood (i.e. making a 3BR
into a 4BR in a hood with 4BRs), or expanding to give your place more
bang for a *reasonable* more buck -- in other words, raising its value
without making it *too* valuable and so inconsistent with the
neighborhood that it'll end up being something of a white elephant.
Kings don't live with the middle class, and the middle class can't
afford to live with kings. Likewise, if you're going to be doing
something with all that space that has some broad appeal that no other
houses in the neighborhood offer (i.e. in-law suite, etc.), then there
is value in it because resale buyers will definitely pay a bit more for
a house like that compared to others for sale at the same time in the
neighborhood -- provided your improvements don't require your house to
be priced out of the market in order for you to recoup as much of your
additional investment as possible.
If you know with 100% certainty that you'll never move and have cash on
hand to finance pretty much all of the expansion, "value" becomes a moot
point. You're doing it just for you, and if you're going to die there,
then it's not all that crazy. But just remember -- when you're 90 years
old, you'll still be dusting and vacuuming all that empty space that
used to be filled with kids and their stuff.
The reason why I am thinking about it, is that I want to put a library
and a nice study there. Your comment about money is applicable, but it
is applicable to most home improvement projects to some extent.
Is there "not enough space" in the house? This is like asking if I
have enough guns. Of course the answer is no, but quite frankly, there
is plenty of space for normal living.
There are enough buyers of expensive homes, as such. But, perhaps,
these buyers are only interested in buying expensive homes when they
are surrounded by other expensive homes. Or, perhaps, buyers of
expensive homes are interested in buying "flatter" big homes rather
than "taller" big homes.
it's definitely going to be out of line with neighborhood home values,
although like I said, this is a very nice neighborhood.
Well, I want to build a library and a study there.
My desire is to never move and never sell, and if I am to do this,
I would pay for it out of pocket, if and when I have enough money to
be allocated for it. That said, obviously, life is unpredictable and
there is a possibility that one day we may want to sell the house.
Well, libraries and studies *are* pretty popular among the high-falutin'
You didn't mention whether you have kids or your age in either post, and
I think this might have some influence on it, because expanding for a
library/study makes more sense -- or less sense -- depending on where
you are in your life now and where you figure you'll be when the day
comes to do all this with cash on the barrelhead.
If you have kids and they're pretty young (anklebiter to pre-teen) and
you're pretty young yourself (20s-30s), then doing it makes more sense
because the house will be pretty full for a good while yet. If you're in
your early 40s with young 'un kids like that, it might even make sense
to do it now with a bank loan instead of waiting until you get the cash
because, well, AARP membership and the grim reaper is kinda right around
the corner, old chap. Enjoy it now while you can get the most enjoyment
out of it. But if the kids are teenagers, they'll (hopefully) be out of
the house within 5-10 years -- in which case you can eliminate the whole
"value" concern by converting one of their rooms into your study/library
when the first one flies the nest. Makes for a convenient excuse for
them not to come back, too ;)
Another tidbit for thought: Just because your neighborhood is nice now
doesn't necessarily mean it will always be in your lifetime. The
country's seen some of the finest neighborhoods go from longtime jewel
to shit in as little as 10 years. And I don't necessarily mean the
buildings going to seed, altho that's often the case. There's plenty of
riff-raff able to afford nice houses (or move in with parents able to
afford nice houses), and landfills don't always end up next to ghettos.
=As one who has a large library, I must ask whether you have considered the
logistics of a third floor
library? I cannot imagine lugging all those books up two flights of stairs.
Perhaps you should budget for an elevator
(or use one of those vacant bedrooms)?
I would hire a local architect to explore the possibility of doing what you
want [and other options he/she might suggest].
You may or may not have structural issues with the lower floors, etc.
Sometimes an extra support here and there will allow the addition, other
times it is... "This is not going to work!".
If it is reasonably possible, ask for a ballpark figure for construction,
permits, etc. Don't forget about upgrading electric, water, air
conditioning, etc. (if necessary).
Then say go ahead and draw up the plans, I'll wait, or I'll pass on the
Thanks. What kinds of structiral issues are possible? What Iam
concerned about is, foirst, if the external walls are strong enough,
and second, if the middle of the house supports are strong enough.
The latter may be more of an issue.
Would it be comparable with, say, the cost of building a typical 3
bedroom house on a slab?
It could be fine as it is, you might need more support on the outside walls
to carry the weight, you might need one or more "bearing walls" added to
the inside, or you might just need a large beam added here or there.
Then the building department can be pricks and make you change the size of
an existing beam... just to be pricks.
An architect can advise you best on this stuff.
Cost can vary a great amount depending on what the architect determines
should be done. Also upgrades to electrical, air conditioning, etc. In some
cases it is easy, in other cases a lot of work would need to be done... or
entire systems upgraded to new ones. Is your electrical at capacity? Or is
there amperage/breaker space for the addition? Again, ask the architect....
On 25 Feb 2004 14:15:28 GMT, someone wrote:
Just 'cause you can, doesn't mean you should.
NO WAY could this be justified because it is "profitable", i.e. NO WAY
would it add more value than it would cost. Not even close.
But its your house so if you wanna, go jump throught hose hoops, get
the engineer and the architect out there, sure it can be done the only
question is would it cost a lot or cost a really reaaly lot.
Do it if you want to, not because it makes any kind of financial
sense, because it doesn't. If you want a library it would be cheaper
to sell your place and buy another house that already has one. If you
"like" your house and don't want to move that is fine but it is a
subjective thing and only you can say what that is worth in dollars
and the unpleasantry of living through a major construction project
vs. the inconvenience of moving.
I want to add this -
In a neighborhood a friend of mine bought a home in, medium 3-bedroom ranches
with a full basement and 1 bath, EIK, dining room & 1 car garages, all on or
about 1/3 acre lots, homes were (at the time) going for about 175,000.- give or
take depending on improvements (some homes had original windows, boilers,
kitchens, baths, etc, and some have replaces some or all of these items)
There was, in this subdivision 2 homes which "McMansioned" - One added a huge
2-story addition, a master bedroom suite with bath, walk-in closets on 2nd fl
and a den and 1/2 bath on the first... and another turned the ranch into a
2-story ranch practically a 2 family home (though not legal.)
Both of those homes sold recently for only about 20% more than the originals
I am reminded of a project up the street from us when I was a kid in
Arlington, va, suburbes of DC, They jacked up a nice fairly good sized one
story old house on a really nice corner lot and built another story under
it. Property values being what they are in that location made this a viable
thing to do. Solves the structural problems too.
In my locality if you add or change an existing 3rd story, you have to add a
second means of egress otherwise known as fire escapes.. Your building/fire
codes might have been changed since your house was built and you might be
subject to a similiar code change. Does your local zoning permit as large a
structure as you would like to build on your existing lot? Go to your town
building department and ask a lot of questions first...you may not be able
to build what you want without permission from any number of
people....including your neighbors!
Can't say architecturally as that depends on what you think is
attractive to your eyes. Structurally, anything can be done with
enough thought and money.
No idea because of too many variables.
If you use licensed people in the trade, I would think so.
I don't think anyone can answer that except you. I would consider the
need vs. desire, cost, inconveniences during the construction, time of
completion, cost vs. resale value as just some of the factors to
weigh. There may be other factors as well and you need to assess each
one of them based on your needs / values.
I think this is hard to say in the blind. My guess is that you won't
get dollar for dollar spent in the resale of your home but I'm just
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.