How to Add on to Your House


Most landlords will find it hard, but not impossible, to add on to their homes. Depending on the size and complexity of the plan for the addition, anyone with good carpentry skills can make a good result. I don’t think you should try a six-room, two-story addition on your first try, though. A simple one-story addition of a dining room or bedroom with a crawl space or full basement can be done on the weekends, but it will take a lot of time. A full basement will be part of the more complex addition. It’s like a crawl place, but it’s more profound.

An experienced excavation contractor must do excavation because pouring the new footings is vital to making a good foundation. I did have a client who dug out and filled in the whole house base by hand. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he dug the entire septic system by hand. I don’t think you should try it. When searching, a good rainstorm can quickly ruin all your work. You need a company that does excavation and a mason who works with concrete or blocks to set up the base and pour the floor as quickly as possible. Once the backfill is done, the weather can’t hurt you too much.

It will usually only slow down the work for a day or two. Start by cleaning up the anchor bolts or spreading out the strap stakes the foundation Mason left behind. Install a layer of sealant and, if needed, in your area, a termite screen. The next part is your sill plate made of pressure-treated wood. Most of the time, at least a 2×8 is used. The dish is bolted or nailed to the straps to secure the addition to the base. After that, the frame comes next. The next part is the rim or edge band joist. The rim joist is placed and nailed to all four base sides. The floor joists come next. Drawings show how the floor joists should be set up based on the accepted plans. If the addition is small, say 12 feet wide, a single post can go from one side of the floor to the other. On the models, it will also say what size and type of wood will be used. (SPF, Douglas Fir, etc.).

Most floor joists of standard lumber are put sixteen inches in the center. After the floor joists are all in place, the plywood decking is put in. Most materials used today are 3/4″ tongue and groove lumber. A good floor is placed with screws and a bead of building adhesive on top of the joists. Putting in basement stairs should be done when the bed is being framed. The next step is to prepare the walls. All four walls are bound, and based on how the framer does things, I’ve seen the walls sheathed, windows put in, and Tyvek paper put up before the walls are put up. The cracks are filled, and the walls are propped up for now. Now that the ceiling joists are up, they will help hold the outside walls together. Ceiling joists may be made of two-by-six-inch wood, which isn’t too heavy. If a second floor is added, these ceiling joists will become floor joists for the floor above, which means they will be much heavy and more oversized. Now that the ceiling joists are in place, the next step is to frame the roof. If trusses are used, they can be put up by two guys in a few hours. To prepare the top, you need a third person. Two men can put up the ridge board and brace it while a third man on the ground cuts the wood pieces for them.

It can climb up and down again but is prolonged and complex work. At each end of the new roof, rafters will be placed to hold the ridge board in place. For the rest of the top, the rest of the beams can now be put in place. All of the frame is now in its final position. The next step is to put the wooden covering on the roof. Again, having more people help will make this job much faster if the lumber yard can boom the board up to the ceiling. You might want to pay a couple of dollars more to have the rolls of shingles, weather shield, and felt paper boomed to the top. Your back and legs will thank you for it later, for sure. The next most important thing to do is to put up the ice and water cover, drip edges, felt, and shingles. This will dry your addition, and stormy weather will no longer set you back to zero work output days. If there are exterior doors, they can be put in, and as long as the Tyvek paper is nailed down, you can start working on the inside of your addition. Siding outside a house can be done on a nice day without being rushed. Once the walls are dry, the usual work order is rough wiring, rough plumbing, including HVAC tubes or heat pipes, insulation, drywall, painting, trim work, and floor finishes.


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Pete has been a building inspector for over 30 years and has worked on public and private projects. He has worked on schools, treatment plants, private homes, condos, and big residential landscaping projects in the Eastern US. He has also worked in the building design and construction fields. In 2006, he and two other building inspectors started Wagsys LLC. The company made software for building departments, planning boards, and Zoning Boards of Appeals.

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