Building a new home in Fairfield County or Westchester County starts with finding land. This can pose a challenge due to the lack of available vacant building lots. As a result, home building clients often find that tearing down, or adding to an existing structure, is a more feasible option. Although it can be rare in lower Fairfield County, sometimes the existing structure on the perfect lot is single level. This means adding a second story.
Another scenario that we’ve seen is the addition of a third level to a two-story home. Either project requires significant engineering, construction, and architectural consideration. The right homebuilder can guide you through the process to ensure the project is done right.
The first step should be for the contractor to bring in a structural engineer to ensure the foundation and first level are sufficient to support the additional weight of multiple new bedrooms and bathrooms. If you’re considering expanding the attic space to create the new level, this too requires structural investigation because finished living space will be carrying more weight than attic space.
The next thing for your builder to look into will be code requirements. Wilton’s regulations may be different from New Canaan’s, for example, so be prepared to have your contractor thoroughly investigate the limitations, if any, on square footage, footprint regulations, setbacks, etc. And standard code may dictate requirements for insulation R-value, staircase dimensions, etc.
When you’re adding a second level, there’s a good chance it will affect the functionality of the lower floor. You’ll need to add a staircase, which will require reworking an existing part of the downstairs to accommodate. Existing chimneys may need to be removed if they are running though planned living space. You may also need to figure out how to work an existing chimney into the new space above.
Dealing with exterior elements can often be a challenge. If the existing home is relatively old, it may be difficult to find matching windows and siding. In this case, you’ll need to choose a similar style, create a contrast with different materials, or start over. You’ll want to start working with your contractor early in the process to address these issues. A good contractor, with experience in remodeling and addition work, will provide suggestions and options to make the decisions easier.
When it comes to the exterior, you’ll also want to step back and look at the bigger picture to envision how the exterior lines will work with the new addition. This is where an architect can really help. The entire look of the home’s exterior will be affected by this change. When this happens, it’s typical to add features, such as a porch or front entry, to create symmetry in design. In addition, you’ll likely want to carry certain upgrades from the new addition to the existing exterior, such as more detailed trim, copper flashing, stone work, and shutters.
All told, there are numerous considerations when undertaking this type of project, and almost every trade will need to be involved, including electrical and pluming. The end result, however, can be very satisfying. By reworking an existing home, you’re able to take full advantage of a great piece of land. And in our experience, these types of projects always result in homes with an incredible amount of character.