Adding a second story meant extensive changes to the first floor as well. This view is from the front door through the living room into the relocated kitchen.
Adding Out Or Adding Up?
The next question the family faced was what form the renovation would take. A typical addition attached to the rear or side of the house would have been less complicated and less expensive. But local setback requirements prohibited adding a ground-level addition large enough to meet their needs. So Denver architect Doug Walter designed a 1000-sq.-ft. second-floor addition.
Adding a second story radically changes the exterior appearance of a home, more so than several room additions (which would not have been visible from the street). With their low-slung rooflines and basic ground plans, ranch-style homes offer designers a versatile blank slate, but simply dropping a second floor on top of the first can make the house look top-heavy.
To avoid this, Walter balanced the size of the new floor with that of the existing house. He set the walls of the second story back from the perimeter of the house, leaving a skirt of the original roof around the front and sides of the house. That strip of roofing and the fact that the pitch of the new roof is the same as the old one tie the two floors together visually. Walter managed to accomplish this while keeping the house under 23 ft. at the ridge in accordance with local height restrictions.
On any project of this type, it's important to try to match the look of house with that of others in the neighborhood. And if the house itself is going to look like it has always been two stories, attention must be paid to exterior details. The placement of the new windows must be balanced with the locations of the old ones, and the second-story roofing, siding and trim should match the existing materials.
In this project, the design of the exterior was kept simple and low-key, yet every element was carefully considered. An example is the main heating stack. Poking up from the roof, the furnace vent -- normally a spindly length of galvanized pipe -- was enclosed in a chase so it resembles a real chimney. "Houses without chimneys look like a face without a nose," says Walter.
Solving one problem led to another: Setting the second floor back from the first-floor walls meant the weight of the addition couldn't be borne by the outer walls. The structure needed supplemental support that could be built without completely tearing out the foundation. "This was the biggest challenge of the job," Walter admits. "We inserted a grid of steel columns through the first floor into the basement where they were cut into the concrete slab, and new footings were poured for each of them." The columns are concealed inside the walls.