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  1. #1
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    Oct 2013
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    Default Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    Not shure if this is the best place for this, but here it goes. I have the chance to purchase a 50's bungalow that was my grandmothers. The house was built in 1952 and is in good condition although dated. It is located in a great area ( near by family and where I grew up) and the town has a excellent school system ( the main reason for selling our current home) . The house is aprox 1200 sq feet with hip roof. A addition would be a must to make the house liveable for us. The only way to add on is to go up because there is no room on sides ( lot setbacks ) and don't want to loose the backyard. So now to my question, how can I tell if the structure is able to hold a second floor addition, without major reworking of the original first floor or foundation? Can a good builder be able to look at the house and tell, or do I need to get a engineer involved and spend tons of money, just to find out if I can add a second floor before I buy it?? The foundation is in good condition no visible cracks at all, which I thought was good for a 60 year old house. I believe that the foundation is block, but there are slight lines that look like mortar joints but are not tooled like a normal cinder block foundation. Looks like a poured wall and the forms were made from individual boards? when I feel the top of the wall by the sill there are no voids? possibly solid blocks or were filled with cement? I have no Idea what there is for a footing but the house shows no settling. I do know the soil is more clay than anything. My other question is that the original house is framed 2x4 and all new houses here are framed 2x6 ( north of Boston ) would the addition be 2x6 or 2x4 like the original house??? Any help would be great. I don't want to spend thousands to find out the house cannot be added onto within a reasonable budget. I would have a builder frame and put up the shell and finish most of it myself.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    No one but a contractor from Boston is going to be able to tell you what is possible in your area. Having said that, I did a second story addition in San Jose California shortly after the big Loma Priata quake. We did nothing to the existing foundation, but did have to pour several large piers and foundation walls under the house to help support the upstairs. Other than that, everything else was retrofitting the structure for quake resistance.

    2x4 framing has been acceptable for 2 story construction for decades, no reason you can't add onto what you've already got, the worst likely scenario is that you'll have to pour footings and foundation walls under the structure to support the additional weight like I did, depending on your floor plan and such.

    Anything is possible, the question is generally, "what is it going to cost". You could start with the local building department, ask them what some of the requirements are for a second story addition to a 1950's structure. From there, contractors that specialize in such additions in your area would be able to answer a questions as well.

    Before you start drawing bids (or pestering too many contractors ), you're going to have to work with an architect and/or engineer to design, do the load calculations, and draw the plans, then you can put the plans out to bid.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
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    Oct 2013
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    Thanks, The 2x6 exterior walls are code here for insulating reasons due to our cold climate not structural. I didn't know if the 2x4 would be grandfathered in because of the original structure, I am worried about weight of the 2x6 and tieing into original top plate? My main concern is if a builder would be able to tell if it's possible or if I really need a engineer

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    I think you can consult an architect and the first consultation would be free - just to get an idea if it's doable at all.

    I once added a second floor by installing 4 steel columns as support. So as you can see, the architect will determine, using the building dept's guidelines, how to do it. A builder merely executes what's in the signed plans. About the 2x4 walls - I'd bet they will stay. The new construction will have to be 2x6s.

    Now to the budget: first make sure you have all your funds ready (cash or improvement loan), then add at least 25% for the unexpected.

    please keep up posted, this is an interesting project.

    Also wait for MLB's input, he's a member from your area.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff22 View Post
    I didn't know if the 2x4 would be grandfathered in because of the original structure, I am worried about weight of the 2x6 and tieing into original top plate? My main concern is if a builder would be able to tell if it's possible or if I really need a engineer
    First, 2x4's in the 50's were full dimension, meaning that they were actually 2x4 inches, unlike today's lumber which is 1-1/2" x 3-1/2". Full dimension lumber is significantly stronger. I have no doubt that you can safely build on top of the existing structure.

    Yes, a builder that specializes in second story additions could tell you if it's possible as well as the rough cost of hiring an architect to draw up the plans with engineering specs. From there, the plans are approved by the municipality, then just about any builder can do the work, as they will be following what the plans call for.

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    About the 2x4 walls - I'd bet they will stay. The new construction will have to be 2x6s.

    Now to the budget: first make sure you have all your funds ready (cash or improvement loan), then add at least 25% for the unexpected.
    Agreed. Good call on the budget as well. Unforeseen items I see happening would be an electrical service upgrade and total rewire and replumb. It is likely that the existing structure will be gutted to bare stud, this would be the perfect time for new wire and pipes and upgrade everything to current code. With it this torn apart, might as well go with new energy efficient doors and windows.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
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    Jan 2010
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    In the 50's the larger-dimension 2x4's were also ungraded. The inspectors around here now like to see studs stamped with the "stud" label. In my experience, after WWII 2x4's from the large national mills were dimensioned only slightly bigger than today, like 1 5/8x 3 5/8.
    OTOH, I used some lumber in the last year where the 2x4's were 1 3/8 x 3 3/8, (these were #1 PT)so the shrinkage has not yet abated!

    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2010
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    Houston Texas
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    The first stop will be the local building authority. Normally they will tell you if someone else has already done what you are thinking about. No sense in re-inventing the wheel

  8. #8
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    Oct 2013
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    Thanks, I know a lot of the local carpenter/builders in the area ( one is on the planning board ) Most small guys around here sub the framing out to a local framing contractor, who has framed additions for friends of mine ( quick good work ) I think I am going to give him a call and see if he will come out and give me his opinion. He is a friend of a friend.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Second story addition on a 50's bungalow is it doable?? structure??

    Plz let us know what he said.

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