Adding a Second Story to a House Guide

By PropertyClub Team
Jul 9th 2023
If you love your home, but need more, expanding up and adding a second story can be a great option, especially if you have a ranch house. So how much does it cost to build another floor, and how does the process work?

If there’s one thing that makes a massive difference to your home’s appearance and functionality, it’s adding a second story to your house. It’s a project that shouldn’t be taken lightly. When completed, adding another story to your home can mean a massive increase in your home’s value. 

This is an endeavor that requires months of planning, a lot of work, as well as a potential rental home for you to stay in. Wondering what it costs, or whether it’s a doable option? This guide will give you the answers you need.

hash-markHow Much Does Adding a Second Story Cost?

Generally, you can expect to pay between $150,000 and $300,000 to add a second story to a house. The exact amount depends on the size of your home, what foundation you have, as well as a number of other factors. You also have to determine whether you want a full second-floor addition or a partial one. For example, adding a second floor bonus room above a garage might cost around $50,000, while a full second-story addition might cost over $200,000. Here are some ballpark figures to consider:

  • Adding a full second story to a ranch house measuring 2000 square feet will cost between $150,000 to $300,000. This includes most repairs that you would need to do, as well as any structural additions you need to ensure that the building will hold. 
  • If you’re looking to add a new story to your garage, the cost will be between $100,000 to $150,000. If you want to have a full-fledged apartment on top of your garage, then it may cost upwards of $200,000. 
  • A second story in a Victorian home can cost even more. Since older homes may require additional preparation and also can require specially stylized exteriors, the beginning cost for this is $150,000. 
  • A partial second story can cost between $90,000 to $120,000 for a 500 to 700 square foot area. This is enough to fit one or two rooms comfortably. Even so, it’s a lot of money!

hash-markIs It Worth Adding a Second Story?

Adding a second story is usually worth it if you can afford it. When you add a second story you can customize exactly how you want to expand your home, all while increasing its value. While the cost of adding a second story can be prohibitive, it can always be recouped when selling the house. 

Keep in mind that additional bedrooms and bathrooms will add the most value to a house's price. 

hash-markHow Much Does a Second Story Addition Over a Garage Cost?

Out of all the types of second floor additions out there, this one can have the most variance in prices. A shed-like second story can cost as little as $40,000. However, if you’re looking to make an in-law apartment over your garage, you should expect to pay more than $150,000. 

hash-markWhy Does Adding a Second Story Cost So Much?

Building up a house means that you will need to get more supplies and that you will need to add additional structural supports to ensure your house won’t topple. Since adding a second story takes further planning and labor, it will end up being pricier.

It’s also important to note that you will need to have a place to stay while the construction is going underway. While most estimates don’t include the cost of renting an apartment, it is something that you need to take into account. 

hash-markCan You Live In Your House While a Second Story Is Being Added?

For the most part, no. Your home will not have a roof over it while it’s being remodeled. So, if you want to live in it while you’re adding a second story, you’re going to need to choose between having a partial second story and having to rent a house for several months.

hash-markAdding 1 Second Story To A Ranch House

Ranch houses tend to be the most common type of housing that people want to add a second story to. It’s easy to see why as ranch houses are traditionally single-story homes, and adding a second story can double your living space. However, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of when you’re trying to make this happen.

hash-markFoundation Requirements for Adding a Second Story

To keep your home safe, you will need to make sure that the second story you build is on a solid foundation. This is especially true with ranch homes. This means that you will need to do the following:

  • Get a zoning permit- Not all towns that are rich with ranch homes will allow your home to get an additional story. If you live in an area that has a homeowners’ association, clear it with them. After all, you need to make sure it’s legal first. 
  • Hire a structural engineer- The structural engineer will determine which points in your home will need to be reinforced. Without a qualified structural engineer on your team, you won’t be able to correct your foundation.
  • Reinforce your 2nd story foundation with plywood and steel- This is the only way to ensure that your ranch won’t buckle underneath the weight  Some ranch homes may also need concrete and solid wood enforcements as well. 
  • Perform soil tests- A two-story home is going to be heavier than a one-story home. You will need to perform soil tests to make sure that your home won’t sink into the ground.
  • Repair any other structural issues that your home may have- If your foundation is cracked, you will need to repair it. If you have walls that have “settled in,” then you will need to fix those, too. 

hash-markCan You Use Modular Second Floor Additions?

Though they are rare, there are modular second story options that make it possible to add a second story to a ranch house with ease. However, there is a chance that your ranch home may not be compatible with them. 

Before you purchase the modular home, hire a structural engineer, and make sure to consult with the modular home sales staff. That way, you won’t have any nasty surprises when you try to add a second level. 

hash-markAdding a Second Story to a House Bottom Line

Adding a second story is not something that you should take lightly, nor is it always doable. If you want to add a second floor to your home, then it’s essential to talk with the right people to see whether or not it’s an option. 

If it is, then you should expect to pay a lot of money—even if you decide to go for a modular second story. Are you ready to get started on the project of a lifetime? If you are, then it’s best to start preparing today.