How much does it cost to add a small two-story addition?

Answered by Brett ~ April 3, 2011 ~ Comments

We have an all brick colonial in Cheverly, MD (just outside Washington, DC). We want to add a small two-story addition on the back of the house. The footprint of the addition would be about 15' x 8' (length parallel to house x length perpendicular to house), a rectangular strip on the back of the house. The first floor would expand the kitchen (currently 10' x 7) to be 10' x 15', with one window over the sink. The rest of the first floor addition would be a new 5' x 8' powder room with one window. The second floor would have a full bath above the powder room portion (with one window) and a large walk-in closet above the expanded 8' part of the kitchen (no windows). So, about 120 sf per floor (=240 sq total). This would require removing two stories of the brick wall. Decent siding, not brick. Probably would have to pour a foundation. I would demo the current kitchen myself. I'm thinking about having a contractor build the addition and getting all the plumbing, electrical, gas in the right places for the new kitchen and bathrooms. They would sheet rock it and then I would be the general contractor for the new kitchen and bathrooms (might do some easy stuff myself, might not finish out the second story bathroom right away). I have a good idea for costs on the kitchen and bathrooms once the space is built. What might it cost to build this two-story addition so it is ready to have the kitchen and bathrooms put in? Second, if we could not afford it all at once, another idea is to only do the first story part of the addition and in the future add the second story (the full bath and walk-in closet). This would of course mean the second story brick would remain in place while the first floor would be removed. Does it even make sense to do this and try to add a second story to the addition later? It seems like that would be more tricky structurally? Thanks for your help.

Alan C. ~ Baltimore, Maryland

Brett Kulina

Alan, it seems to me that you are in the same situation that many homeowners experience once they decide that they want to remodel their existing home, namely, how do you get the process started? It can be difficult to plan a home addition especially when unknown construction costs are one of the determining drivers of the size and scope of the project. Homeowners like yourself often have similar questions: How much can we build, if we don't know how much it will cost? Can we save money by doing some of the work ourselves? Should we leave some parts of the project unfinished until a future date or until we have more money? Add the challenges of getting a construction loan into the mix and your head can really start spinning!

Although there is often no perfect way to tackle the daunting challenges of a home addition, here are some potential steps that might serve to answer your questions and get you moving in the right direction:

  1. You need some construction drawings. Contractors, material suppliers, loan officers, and issuers of building permits are all going to want to see some sort of drawings which detail your proposed project. You can hire an architect, a qualified draftsman or contractor to create some simple elevations and floor plans for you.
  2. Develop separate phases for your project's ultimate completion. Creating a phasing plan that begins with the completed building envelope and exterior finishes -- and saves interior finishes and fixtures for a future phase -- can help spread the cost of the project over a longer period of time. I would not recommend building the first level now and leaving the second level for a later date, as there are to many weatherproofing and aesthetic issues to deal with. If you are going to be using bank financing for the project, make sure to discuss the proposed phasing plan with your loan officer, as some banks will not finance an unfinished project that lingers on for years.
  3. Detail a list of subs that you will need to hire, and make a list of tasks that you can complete yourself. Keep in mind, not all contractors feel comfortable working on projects for which the homeowner does portions of the work. If you are going to act as the general contractor for the entire project, make sure you fully understand the responsibilities that job entails. Also check the local codes in Baltimore to see what the rules are for homeowner/DIY projects.
  4. Make a list of building materials and finishes for the project. Undoubtedly, project costs can really soar depending on which type of finishes you choose. I often suggest that homeowners make a "wish list" of items that they really want. They can then alter those dreams based on the estimated costs of those materials.
Completing this list of tasks should help your project take shape. At the very least, it should make it easier for you to gather material prices and potential labor costs for your remodel. Keeping all of your information in an multi-file folder will also help you stay organized and work efficiently as you meet with contractors and material suppliers. The challenges of a home addition are many, but when completed, the rewards can make all of your hard work worth the effort. Good luck with your project, and I hope you make good use of all the valuable remodeling information on our website!

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