Second-Floor Additions: Full Story vs. Dormer vs. Attic Conversion

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About the Author: David Perrotti

Dave has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, is a Bestselling Home Improvement Author on Amazon, and constantly seeks to reinvent the remodeling industry. As a veteran of the Army and Air Force, Dave operates his business, Fine Home Contracting, on the core army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

Expanding your home’s living space can significantly enhance its functionality, aesthetic appeal, and overall value. When it comes to second-floor additions, homeowners have three main options: Full Story Additions, Dormer Additions, and Attic Conversions. Each of these options offers unique benefits and challenges. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons, ideal room types, and project overviews for each addition type to help you make an informed decision.

Full Story Additions

A full story addition involves adding an entire new level to your home, effectively doubling the living space of your existing floor. This type of addition is ideal when a bump-out addition isn’t feasible due to lot size or zoning restrictions. The process typically starts with securing necessary permits and designing the layout. Construction includes strengthening the foundation, building new walls, adding a roof, and integrating utilities. This project can transform your home, offering ample space for a luxurious master suite or additional bedrooms, providing a significant boost in functionality and property value.

  • Great for Growing Families: Add extra bedrooms and bathrooms for a growing family.
  • Expanding Primary Suites: Second story primary suites are a great option for adding space.
  • Maximizes Space: Ideal for smaller lots where expanding outward isn’t an option.
  • Increased Privacy: Bedrooms on a separate floor offer more privacy.
  • Enhanced Views: Enjoy better views from higher elevations.

Key Considerations

  • Existing Structure: Does the existing home need to be reinforced to hold the additional second story weight.
  • Septic: A new one maybe required if the addition is adding bedrooms
  • Design: Siding and new windows may need to be replaced on the first floor along
  • Weather: Removing a roof over a current living space needs proper planning and speed
  • Vacancy: Depending on the scope you may not be able to live in the home for a period of time

Dormer Additions

Dormer additions involve extending a portion of the roof to create additional headroom and usable space within the attic. This option is perfect for adding bedrooms or bathrooms, resolving egress issues, and enhancing the functionality of the upper floor. Dormers can significantly increase the usability of an attic without the extensive cost and disruption of a full story addition. The process involves cutting into the roof, building out the dormer structure, and integrating it seamlessly with the existing roofline. This approach maximizes the potential of your attic space, offering a practical and aesthetically pleasing solution.

  • Increased Living Space: Dormers add extra headroom and usable floor space, making rooms more comfortable and functional.
  • Great for Home Office Additions: Create a secluded and quiet workspace.
  • Maximizes Existing Space: Utilizes the often-overlooked attic area, often at a much lower cost than new additions.
  • Improves Natural Light: Dormers bring in more light and ventilation.
  • Enhanced Aesthetics: Dormers can add charm and architectural interest to your home.

Key Considerations

  • Egress: If creating bedrooms a window needs to be larger enough meet egress code
  • Insulation: To meet insulation code roof rafter may need to be built down and spray foam insulation used
  • Build Logistics: All materials and workers most be brought up through a finish residents that needs to be protected

Attic Conversions

Attic conversions transform underutilized attic space into functional living areas. This option is ideal for homeowners looking to add square footage without the extensive cost and disruption of a full addition. Popular for creating in-law suites or guest bedrooms, attic conversions maximize existing space. The process includes reinforcing the floor, improving insulation and ventilation, adding windows or skylights, and ensuring proper access and egress. Attic conversions are a smart way to expand living space, offering a quick and cost-effective solution that can be tailored to various needs.

  • Increased Living Space: Attics are a great source of floor space, making rooms more comfortable and functional.
  • Maximizes Existing Space: Utilizes the often-overlooked attic area, often at a much lower cost than new additions.
  • Improves Natural Light: Dormers and large windows bring in more light and ventilation.

Key Considerations (Similar to Dormer Projects)

  • Access: Is there already a stairwell to the attic or were will one go
  • Egress: If creating bedrooms a window needs to be larger enough meet egress code
  • Insulation: To meet insulation code roof rafter may need to be built down and spray foam insulation used
  • Knee Walls: Connecticut requires a 5ft knee wall in attics this constricts living space on roofs that have an 8 pitch or less.
  • Build Logistics: All materials and workers most be brought up through a finish residents that needs to be protected
  • Dormers: A full roof replacement is needed if the system is older.

Dormer Additions

Dormer additions involve extending a portion of the roof to create additional headroom and usable space within the attic. This option is perfect for adding bedrooms or bathrooms, resolving egress issues, and enhancing the functionality of the upper floor. Dormers can significantly increase the usability of an attic without the extensive cost and disruption of a full story addition. The process involves cutting into the roof, building out the dormer structure, and integrating it seamlessly with the existing roofline. This approach maximizes the potential of your attic space, offering a practical and aesthetically pleasing solution.

  • Increased Living Space: Dormers add extra headroom and usable floor space, making rooms more comfortable and functional.
  • Great for Home Office Additions: Create a secluded and quiet workspace.
  • Maximizes Existing Space: Utilizes the often-overlooked attic area, often at a much lower cost than new additions.
  • Improves Natural Light: Dormers bring in more light and ventilation.
  • Enhanced Aesthetics: Dormers can add charm and architectural interest to your home.

Key Considerations

  • Access: Is there already a stairwell to the attic or were will one go
  • Egress: If creating bedrooms a window needs to be larger enough meet egress code
  • Insulation: To meet insulation code roof rafter may need to be built down and spray foam insulation used
  • Knee Walls: Connecticut requires a 5ft knee wall in attics this constricts living space on roofs that have an 8 pitch or less.
  • Build Logistics: All materials and workers most be brought up through a finish residents that needs to be protected
  • Dormers: A full roof replacement is needed if the system is older.

Comparative Summary

Full Story Additions

Full story additions provide the most significant increase in living space and offer complete customization for multiple rooms. This option is ideal for homeowners needing substantial additional space, such as master suites or extra bedrooms. Although more expensive and disruptive, the investment significantly enhances property value and functionality.

Space Added: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Cost: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disruption: ⭐⭐

Ideal For: Multiple Rooms, Master Suites

Dormer Additions

Dormer additions offer a balanced approach, adding more space and natural light than anticipated. They are particularly effective for creating bedrooms and bathrooms in the attic while improving the home’s exterior appearance. Dormers are less costly and disruptive than full story additions but still require structural modifications.

Space Added: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Cost: ⭐⭐⭐
Disruption: ⭐⭐⭐

Ideal For: Bedrooms, bathrooms, home offices

Attic Conversions

Attic conversions are the most cost-effective and least disruptive way to add square footage. They make use of existing space to create functional living areas, such as in-law suites or guest bedrooms. While limited by the existing structure, attic conversions provide a practical solution for expanding living space quickly and efficiently.

Space Added: ⭐⭐
Cost: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disruption: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ideal For: In-Law Suites, Guest Bedrooms, Master Suites

Choosing the right type of second-floor addition for your home depends on several factors, including the amount of space needed, budget, and your tolerance for construction disruption. Full story additions offer the most significant increase in living space, making them ideal for large projects like adding multiple rooms or a master suite. Dormer additions provide a cost-effective way to enhance your attic’s usability, especially for adding bedrooms or bathrooms. Attic conversions are a smart choice for maximizing existing space with minimal disruption, perfect for creating in-law suites or guest bedrooms.

Attic Additions FAQ

Can I finish my attic myself?2024-07-08T18:02:09+00:00

While some DIY enthusiasts may tackle attic conversions, it’s often best to hire professionals to ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards. If you’re unsure about pulling permits, planning, or structural concerns, it’s best to consult a professional.

How long does it take to finish an attic?2024-07-08T18:01:26+00:00

The timeline varies, but most attic conversions take between 6 to 12 weeks to complete.

How do I know if my attic has enough height for conversion?2024-07-08T18:00:57+00:00

Generally, an attic should have a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet over at least half of the floor area to be suitable for conversion.

Do I need a permit to finish my attic?2024-07-08T18:00:42+00:00

Yes, most municipalities require permits for attic conversions to ensure the work meets building codes and safety standards.

How much does attic finishing cost in Connecticut?2024-07-08T18:00:33+00:00

The cost varies based on the size and complexity of the project, typically ranging from $20,000 to $75,000. In Connecticut, expect to spend anywhere between $300-$600 per square foot of added or finished space.

How long does it take to build an ADU in Connecticut?2024-02-06T19:43:07+00:00

On average, 6 to 12 months, but this can vary based on the project’s complexity and other factors.

Can I use my ADU as a rental property?2024-02-06T19:42:59+00:00

Yes, many homeowners build ADUs to generate rental income. Be sure to comply with local regulations regarding rentals.

Do I need to hire an architect for my ADU project?2024-02-06T19:42:48+00:00

While not always required, hiring an architect can ensure your ADU meets all design and regulatory requirements.

Can I rent out my ADU in Connecticut?2024-02-02T16:03:28+00:00

Yes, many homeowners build ADUs to generate rental income, but be sure to understand the legal and zoning requirements for renters.

How much does it cost to build an ADU in Connecticut?2024-02-02T16:03:15+00:00

Typically, the cost to build an ADU can range from $100,000 to over $300,000, depending on factors like design complexity, materials, and labor costs. Usual costs range from between $300 to $600 per square foot, depending on whether you’re building an addition or new structure, and the scope of needed plumbing and electrical work.

Are ADUs legal in Connecticut?2024-02-02T16:02:58+00:00

Yes, ADUs are legal, but regulations vary by local zoning laws, so it’s important to check your local ordinances.

What is an ADU?2024-02-02T16:02:47+00:00

An Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, is like a mini-home that shares the same land as a bigger house. ADUs come in many forms, including garage conversions, basement apartments, and backyard cottages. They offer numerous benefits, such as additional rental income, increased property value, and flexible living space.

Are home office additions tax-deductible?2023-11-10T20:02:24+00:00

Generally, home office additions are not directly tax-deductible. However, you may be eligible for tax benefits if the home office is exclusively used for business purposes and meets specific criteria. It’s recommended to consult with a tax professional to determine your eligibility and understand the applicable tax regulations in your jurisdiction.

What are the differences between a custom and pre-built sunroom?2023-10-16T19:28:40+00:00

Custom sunrooms offer full design flexibility, allowing homeowners to create a unique, tailored space that integrates seamlessly with their home’s architecture. This customization, however, comes at a higher cost and involves a longer construction timeline. Pre-built sunrooms, in contrast, come in standardized designs with limited customization options, making them a cost-effective and quicker solution for those looking for a sunroom addition.

What is the difference between a 3 and 4 season room?2023-10-16T19:26:44+00:00

The primary difference between three-season rooms and four-season rooms is their year-round usability and insulation. Three-season rooms are designed for mild weather, while four-season rooms are built to offer comfort in all seasons, making them suitable for colder climates like Connecticut.

How long does a sun room addition take?2023-10-16T19:25:59+00:00

On average, the construction of a typical sunroom in Connecticut can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. A three-season sunroom might be completed in a shorter timeframe, while a four-season sunroom with additional features and complex design may take longer. It’s essential to discuss the estimated construction timeline with your chosen sunroom contractor. They can provide a more accurate schedule based on your specific project’s requirements and circumstances.

How much does it cost to add on a sunroom?2023-10-16T19:25:32+00:00

The cost of constructing a sunroom can vary widely depending on various factors, including the type of sunroom, its size, materials, design, and any additional features or amenities. On average, you can expect to invest between $10,000 to $70,000 or more for a sunroom addition in Connecticut.

How much does a second story addition cost?2023-10-16T17:07:23+00:00

The price of adding a second story to a home varies, but the average cost in Connecticut is around $145,000 including labor, materials, permitting, and inspections. Second story additions range from as low as 500$ a square foot, to up to 800$ a square foot. Additions with plumbing and electrical work such as those that contain kitchens and bedrooms tend to be more expensive.

What are the first steps to planning a second story addition?2023-10-16T16:57:14+00:00

The initial steps include evaluating your available space, defining your needs, establishing a budget, and consulting with professionals such as architects and contractors to create a comprehensive plan for the project.

How does a second story addition affect my home’s property value?2023-10-16T16:56:56+00:00

The average return on investment for a two-story addition is about 83%. If you are considering selling your home in the future, this could financially benefit you.

Can my existing foundation support a second story addition?2023-10-16T16:56:09+00:00

The existing foundation’s capacity to support a second story addition depends on its strength and condition. Consult with professionals, such as structural engineers, to assess and reinforce the foundation as needed.

Are there any restrictions on the use of in-law suites?2023-10-16T14:11:15+00:00

Restrictions on in-law suites vary from town to town in Connecticut. Common restrictions may include occupancy limits, rental limitations, parking requirements, accessory structure size constraints, health and safety code compliance, and potential homeowner’s association (HOA) restrictions. It’s important to consult your local zoning and building department to understand the specific restrictions and requirements that apply to in-law suites in your area to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues or fines.

Can I build an In-law suite on my property?2023-10-16T14:10:25+00:00

In Connecticut, you can generally build a mother-in-law suite on your property, subject to local zoning regulations and building codes, which vary by municipality. To determine your eligibility and specific requirements, it’s crucial to consult with your local zoning and building department. Consider factors such as zoning regulations, size, design, permits, occupancy limits, health and safety codes, utilities, and potential homeowner’s association (HOA) restrictions. Consulting local authorities and professionals familiar with local regulations is essential to ensure compliance and a successful project.

Do I need a separate entrance for an in-law suite?2023-10-16T14:08:38+00:00

While a separate entrance can offer more privacy, it’s not always necessary. The design should align with the preferences and needs of your family members.

What is the difference between an in-law suite and an accessory dwelling unit (ADU)?2023-10-16T14:08:15+00:00

An in-law suite is typically an addition to the main home, while an ADU is a separate, self-contained unit on the same property.

What is the average cost of building an in-law suite addition?2024-04-09T17:16:35+00:00

The cost of building an in-law suite can vary widely depending on factors such as size, location, materials, and local labor costs. On average, it can range from $50,000 to $250,000 or more.

How much does converting a garage to living space typically cost?2023-10-06T18:00:13+00:00

Converting an attached single garage typically runs $25,000-$45,000. It costs $5,000-$10,000 just to redo the garage door into a regular entrance. Upgrades quickly increase costs.

What’s better for resale value, an addition or remodel?2023-10-06T17:59:34+00:00

Additions generally bring in 75-100% ROI. Remodels average 50-75% ROI. Updates modernizing kitchens, baths and finishes help maximize value too. Additions may make the home more marketable.

How can I reduce the costs of my kitchen or bathroom addition?2023-10-04T15:02:48+00:00

Use stock cabinets and neutral countertops like quartz instead of natural stone. Look for fixture and appliance sale prices and rebates.

How accurate are the initial cost estimates for my home addition?2023-10-04T15:02:20+00:00

Initial quotes may vary 10-20% from final costs due to unforeseen issues. Build in a buffer to your budget to cover unexpected expenses.

What is the most budget-friendly type of home addition?2023-10-04T15:02:00+00:00

Finishing a basement is typically one of the most affordable ways to add living space, along with simpler bump-outs like a mudroom or enclosed entryway.

How much does a home addition cost?2023-09-26T13:18:41+00:00

Home additions cost $100-$300 per square foot on average. Simple additions start around $50,000 while upscale master suites can cost $250,000 or more. The size, materials, contractor rates, permitting fees all impact the total cost.

What are some common home addition types?2023-09-26T13:18:12+00:00

Some of the most popular home additions include master suites, expanded kitchens, family rooms, attic conversions, bathrooms, sunrooms, attached garages, mudrooms, accessory dwelling units, and bump-out extensions.

 

How long does a home addition take?2023-09-26T13:17:51+00:00

A typical home addition takes 4-6 months to complete. Smaller projects may take 2-3 months, while larger additions can take over a year. The total timeline depends on the project scope, permitting, weather, contractor availability, and inspections.

What are the steps in the home addition process?2023-09-20T14:14:44+00:00

Main steps are design, permitting, contractor selection, financing, demolition, foundation/framing, roofing, utilities, interior finishings and inspections.

Should I use the same contractor for design and construction?2023-09-20T14:14:28+00:00

Yes, using an architect, designer, and contractor within the same firm eases communication difficulties and makes managing your project easier.

How long does a home addition take?2023-09-20T14:13:41+00:00

Depending on scope, an addition often takes 4-6 months with larger additions over 6+ months. Make sure your contractor provides a detailed timeline. Waiting on permits and materials can drastically increase the time required.

Should I act as my own general contractor?2023-09-20T14:13:11+00:00

Being your own GC can save money but requires extensive time and knowledge. Most advise hiring a qualified general contractor to manage your remodel or addition. If you want more control over your project than a GC allows, a Construction Management company may be a better fit.

What are signs of a shady contractor for a home addition?2023-09-20T14:12:37+00:00

Demanding full payment upfront, no written contract, no fixed pricing, high pressure sales tactics, lack of license and insurance are red flags.

What design work is needed for a home addition?2023-09-20T14:11:58+00:00

Hire an architect to create preliminary drawings for the addition layout, look and feel. They can also help with permitting and contractor selection.

How do I know if my house is suitable for an addition?2023-09-20T14:11:42+00:00

A contractor can assess if your home’s structure, foundation, roof, siding etc. can support an addition. Zoning laws also determine allowed addition size.

What permits are needed to add on to a house?2023-09-20T14:11:30+00:00

Common permits include building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, zoning approval. Your contractor will usually pull the needed permits, but check with your local permitting office.

Should I get multiple quotes for a home addition?2023-09-20T14:11:06+00:00

Yes, it’s recommended to get quotes from 3-4 contractors to compare pricing and visions for the project. Make sure all bids cover the same scope of work.

What questions to ask when hiring a home addition contractor?2023-09-20T14:10:51+00:00

Key questions include their years of experience, examples of past work, license and insurance info, project timeline and communication style. Always check references too.

How much does it cost to add on a room?2024-04-09T17:16:45+00:00

The cost to add on a room can range from $25,000 to $250,000 depending on the size and features. Factors like permitting, foundation work, plumbing and HVAC can significantly impact the final cost. Rooms with plumbing and electrical such as bathrooms and kitchens tend to be more expensive than adding a bedroom or office.

Can any attic be converted into a living space?2023-06-09T14:03:16+00:00

Not all attics are suitable for conversion into a living space. Factors such as ceiling height, structural integrity, and local building codes play a crucial role. Attics with adequate headroom (at least 7-8 feet), proper structural support, and compliance with building regulations have the potential for successful remodeling. Consulting with professionals will help assess the feasibility of your attic for conversion.

How long does attic remodeling typically take?2023-06-09T14:03:01+00:00

The timeline for attic remodeling depends on the scope of the project and various factors like structural modifications and design complexity. On average, attic remodeling can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It’s best to consult with your contractor for a more accurate estimate based on your specific project.

What are the benefits of attic remodeling?2023-06-09T14:02:47+00:00

Attic remodeling offers several benefits. It adds valuable square footage to your home, increases property value, and provides an opportunity to create a functional living space tailored to your needs. Additionally, it can improve energy efficiency and enhance the overall appeal of your home.

Do I need to hire professionals for attic remodeling?2023-06-09T14:02:30+00:00

While some homeowners with DIY skills may tackle certain aspects of attic remodeling, it’s recommended to hire professionals for structural assessments, electrical and plumbing installations, and complex tasks like dormer construction. Their expertise ensures safety and compliance with building codes.

How much does attic remodeling typically cost?2023-06-09T14:02:13+00:00

The cost of attic remodeling can vary depending on factors such as structural assessment, insulation and ventilation upgrades, and flooring, walls, and ceilings. On average, when finishing an unfinished attic into a living space, you can expect expenses ranging from $50,000 to $60,000, including labor and materials.

About the Author: David Perrotti

Dave has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, is a Bestselling Home Improvement Author on Amazon, and constantly seeks to reinvent the remodeling industry. As a veteran of the Army and Air Force, Dave operates his business, Fine Home Contracting, on the core army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

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