We purchased a home in the Boston area that was built in the late 1800's and probably remodeled around 1940. We would like to dormer out the 3rd floor attic to make the bedrooms "legal" as far as cieling height, etc. What do I need to do to ensure that the current floors/roof area are strong enough to support my addition?
Amy ~ Boston, Massachusetts
Hi Amy, For a project like this you will definitely want to get an architect involved. It sounds like you have a beautiful old house, and anything that is going to involve a fairly major structural change with the roof system should have an architect involved. An architect can do the engineering to make sure the change will be structurally sound, especially with the snow loads in Boston, and they can also make sure the change does not detract from the historic aesthetics of the house.
My recommendation would be to find an architect who has experience in working with historic structures. I would think that Boston has many architects that work in that field. I would have an initial consultation with them, ask them take a look at the project, and then give you an estimate of what architectural fees would be. They should also be able to give you a rough estimate of what the labor and material costs might be.
Go slowly at first, as architects can be expensive, so you want to get an idea of the costs involved before you turn anyone loose on the project. If you decide to proceed, the architect should be able to recommend several contractors who also specialize in historical work.