For more than a year Mike and I have been flirting with the idea to enlarge our current house. We have a two-bedroom two-bath house, four people and two large Labradors. It’s 972 s.f. To some of you this may be perfect, and for us, it works, but it is far from our ideal.
When Mike bought this house he had always planned on making it larger but he never had a real reason to…then along came me and our two little girls and the concentration of estrogen is a little too thick. We batted back and forth the ideas of building out or building up. We loved the idea of building up because we wouldn’t have to sacrifice our back/side yard (which is pretty large in relation to the rest of the houses on our street)…but we were nervous about what sort of foundation improvements it would involve. All of our family members insisted the best way would be to build out.
With all the conflicting information we decided to write a pro and con list for building up versus out. Eventually the only pro from building out was: getting to live in the house while it was being built. However, the cons far out weighed the single pro: loose valuable backyard space, awkward floorplan or split floor plan, not able to add on as much s.f. as we would really want to add (set backs/preserving backyard/etc). The list went on, but I think you get the gist: Mike and I really wanted a 2-story house.
The largest con for building up was, “What sort of engineering will it take to improve our current foundation to handle a 2-story addition (and if this was even affordable/practical).” We decided we wouldn’t know until we asked an engineer.
A few years back, one of our neighbors added a second story. We began stalking his house. We took walks down his street, drove out of our way to go by his house out of our development (he lives in a cul-de-sac so this was verrry out of the way), we were there so much that one day we even shut the water off at his neighbor’s house because we noticed they were out of town and one of their sprinklers had broken, this stalking took about a month until we were able to “randomly” meet him. He was very generous and gave us copies of his final plan set and his engineer’s number. The engineer offered to design our plans but insisted the only way to build up was with steel columns and deep piers i.e. extremely expensive…plus he wanted 10k just to draw up the plans. Not much for patience and having a design background I had already drawn up our blueprints, so why would we pay him to do exactly what I had already done? We thanked him nicely and hoped there would be another way. And what does a girl do when she doesn’t know what to do? She calls her dad – of course. And dad gave me the number to an engineer. His name is Fred Sheu and Fred Sheu is awesome! I won’t go in to great details of everything that he did, because you will get plenty of info as we go through the addition, but basically he designed a way for us to build up without breaking the bank or tearing our house a part (too much). He used my cad drawings and engineered them to work/pass plan check.
On May 1st, 2013, we submitted our plans to the city to go through plan check and a few revisions later are about to break ground.