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Portland Design Build Remodeling Blog

Should You Build a Second Story?

At COOPER Design Builders, we have made many Portland homeowners happy with whole-house remodels that include adding a second story. But before you decide on such a major project, you should think long and hard about all the issues involved, because building a second story isn’t always the best option.

Second Story Addition in Portland Oregon

The Options

If you really do need more space in your home, you have some options. You can add a second story over all or just part of your house. You can build out, rather than up, creating an addition that doesn’t involve increasing the height of your house. Or you can move to a different home.

Staying Put

Wanting to build an addition on your house—whether up or out—requires that you really like your neighborhood and don’t want to leave it. Staying put allows you to keep your neighbors, your children’s schools, and the shopping, parks, and other nearby attractions that you’ve grown to love. Buildable land is becoming scarcer and more expensive in the fast-growing Portland area, and the cost to build a new home is going nowhere but up. And how can you put a price on the spreading shade tree in the backyard that you planted when the kids were little?

Save the Yard

One of the reasons to build up instead of out is that it doesn’t require additional square footage on your lot. If it’s already a tight squeeze on your property, this might make adding a second story your only expansion option. Going vertical also will save the landscaping, trees, patio space, and outbuildings that might get in the way of a horizontal addition.

Second Story Addition in Portland Oregon

What’s It For?

Sometimes, the decision to go either up or out depends on what kind of space you’re looking for. If you need to add bedrooms, that’s the most common use for a second story. If, however, you want more space for the kitchen, family room, and general entertaining activities, you’ll be putting that on the ground floor. You can accomplish this kind of expansion either by building out or by adding a second story for bedrooms and family bathrooms, and taking over the ground-floor bedroom space for your kitchen and entertaining area.


It’s Complicated

Keep in mind that a second-story addition is more technically complicated than just building new ground-level space. There’s the demolition of your roof, engineering work to be done to determine how your walls, rafters, and foundation will handle the additional weight, and the connections and extensions needed for electrical, plumbing, and heating/air conditioning.

To learn more about our approach to remodeling a home, download our eBook.


Looking Good

When adding a second story, you’re not going to just slap a rectangular box on top of your existing one-story house. You will need to have a skilled architect design the vertical addition so that it blends with your original home. This can involve issues of rooflines, dormers, massing, window size and placement, siding, and much more. Because you don’t live in a vacuum, you’ll need to make sure your new two-story house doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb in your neighborhood or dwarf all the other homes. The city and your homeowners association might have something to say about that.

Second Story Addition in Portland Oregon

Can You Afford It?

With all of the factors involved in adding a second story, there’s no way to pin a meaningful cost estimate on such a project. Schedule an appointment with the professionals at COOPER Design Builders to get a feel for what a second-story addition could cost in today’s Portland market.

Download the 2019 Portland Home Remodeling Cost Report [PDF]

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