Adding Space

Patricia Skinner  |  3/1/2007 2:04:50 AM

During the restoration process, you may want to add space -- either with an addition on the back or side of the home, or by adding a second story. You should know that most additions will have to be built at the elevation required for new construction, even if your home was not damaged enough to require elevation. When adding a second story, you will probably have to elevate the existing building first. Check with the permit office on the requirements for elevating when adding space.

Be careful. An oversized addition can overwhelm the house and produce unexpected effects. To avoid oversights, consider how the new construction will affect your current home and property. A large addition may swallow too much of your outdoor space. It may also prevent light from accessing existing rooms if they will be blocked from the exterior by the new addition.

Be patient. Although you may be anxious to inhabit your spacious new addition, the project will inevitably take longer than anticipated. Don’t get discouraged.

In the first phase of the planning process, evaluate your family’s long-term needs. If you have children who will likely move out in the near future, building an additional bedroom may not be necessary. Don’t build what won’t be used.


Changing Space

Restoration of a home may afford a good opportunity to change the way you use existing space in the home. If you are considering shifting spaces in your home, plan ahead. Think about how the new spaces will be used and how they may affect current circulation and behavioral patterns presently established in your home. Incorporate simple and subtle shifts that will better serve your home, not add confusion.

One of the most common methods used to change an existing space is to remove one or more walls to create larger and more open spaces. This effective and relatively simple approach requires careful and professional assessment before beginning any work. Walls are often "load bearing," meaning they support the roof and the overall frame of the house and may also be providing anchors for resisting wind uplift forces. Removing a load-bearing wall could cause part of the house to collapse - if not immediately, then when the home is stressed by wind or other forces. Methods exist to compensate for the load carried by a given wall. It is essential, however, to work with experienced licensed professionals before any such decisions are made.

Adding space or changing space often involves work among different trades, so you'll likely need a general contractor to coordinate the project. Refer to the guidance in Getting Started for information about planning, permitting and selecting contractors.

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