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Complete Guide to Adding a Second Story to a Split-Level Home

Complete Guide to Adding a Second Story to a Split-Level Home

Is your split-level home in need of a makeover?

These popular homes were invented almost a century ago, so it’s understandable if your split-level layout no longer accommodates your fast-paced, modern lifestyle.

Second-story additions are a great way to enhance your split-level home with functional space that can better serve you and your family’s needs. Although this type of remodeling project comes with its fair share of challenges, there’s no request that our capable team at Action Builders can’t handle!

What Makes a Split-Level House Unique?

Simply put, split-level homes have layouts with staggered levels. They typically feature at least three stories, including a second floor and a basement, and you’ll be greeted by a series of staircases to both as you walk through the front door. They were introduced in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s after World War II and gained popularity rapidly since homeowners could build a spacious, multi-level home on a small lot using this layout.

Unlike other homes with perfectly aligned floors, split-level homes have staggered floors, so there isn’t a singular story that covers the entire house—each level is unique.

Can I Build a Second-Story Addition on My Split-Level House?

Split-level layouts are common in Pittsburgh, so you’re in good company if you live in one of these homes! However, as time passes, you may need more space in your house and wonder—is it possible to build an addition to my split-level residence

Good newsyou don’t need to move from your split-level home to create enough space for your family. Second-story additions are a great way to enhance your living space with valuable square footage and extra bedrooms. However, building a second-story addition on your split-level home does come with its fair share of challenges, which is why it’s crucial to work with a trusted local company, like Action Builders, who you can trust to complete the job correctly.

Challenges of Building a Second-Story Addition on Your Split-Level Home 

You’ll need to consider the following before investing in an addition to your split-level home:

Staircase Relocation

When you build a second-story addition, you may need to install or move a staircase to make the new rooms accessible. While moving staircases is feasible, it’s essential to work with a contractor trained in this remodeling task to ensure your new staircases are structurally sound, meet local building codes, and are safe to use.

Load-Bearing Walls

There are two types of walls in your home—load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls. Non-load-bearing walls are simply in your home for looks or to separate one room from another, but load-bearing walls support other elements of your home, like your roof or another floor. When these walls are removed, they need to be replaced with something just as strong (if not stronger!) to provide your home with adequate structural support.  

Split-level homes have a staggered layout, so determining which walls are load-bearing can often be more challenging than it is with other home styles. Before your second-story addition, talk with an experienced contractor to ensure your vision for your home aligns with what is best for your home’s structural safety.

Solid Foundation

Before you build a second-floor addition on your split-level home, you’ll need to ensure your foundation can support the extra weight. If you’re “building up” or “bumping out,” you may not need to add any extra support, but if you’re expanding your home in a place with a weak foundation underneath, you may need to factor this cost into your budget.

Roofing Alignment

When completing a second-floor addition on a split-level home, it’s crucial to think about how your roof will look after the expansion is complete. Talk with your contractor about placing your addition in a location that will look natural with your current roofline, or decide how to adjust your roofing system so it will look great with your new addition.

Different Types of Second-Story Additions for Split-Level Homes

If you need some inspiration about which rooms to add to your split-level home, here are some spaces that work great as second-story additions:

  • Garage—Many homeowners with split-level residences build rooms on top of their garage that can act as a rental unit, master suite, or gaming room for teenagers and older kids.
  • Kitchen—If your kitchen is crowded, you can expand your cooking space into a nearby living area, then add a second-floor addition to make up for the missing living space.
  • Sunroom—Split-level homes often have limited space for your family to gather, so if this is the case, a sunroom is a great second-floor addition that can be used as a family room, dining room, or playroom for young children.
  • Master Suite—Since bedrooms in split-level homes are typically smaller than average, couples may wish to add a second-story addition to build a spacious master suite.
Want to learn more about adding an addition to your split-level home? Our “Multi-Story Home Additions Guide” can help get you started. Read the Guide

Create Space You Want and Need in Your Split-Level Home with Action Builders

If you love your split-level home but wish it had a more functional, spacious layout, you may benefit from a second-story addition from Action Builders.

We do what other contractors say can’t be done. We can safely move load-bearing walls and staircases and can perfectly match the features of your new addition to your current home. You won’t even be able to tell the difference!

Learn more about adding a second-floor addition to your split-level Pittsburgh home by contacting Action Builders today.