Growing Out of Your Bungalow? Add a Second Story!

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The classic Bungalow is an icon in Chicago. Built to last, these structures still offer a quaint nostalgia to our metropolis, boasting tons of natural light, full basements, and classic Chicago brick. The only hesitation among buyers is the size; the typical Historic Chicago Bungalow is approximately 1,500 square feet and includes a second floor with a pitched roof which is not ideal. Not to worry! What makes Chicago such a fantastic architectural landmark is its ability to adapt – today’s common resolution to this problem is to add a second story!

Adding another level to your house has many benefits – before you start, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Does my neighborhood have potential?

Unless you plan on staying in your home for more than 10 years, it’s important to assess your neighborhood’s current and future market. What are other bungalows selling for in the neighborhood? What have they been selling for over the past two years? Do you see any trends? What do the highest priced houses look like in the market? The lowest? How many bathrooms do they have? If the market is volatile, you may want to think twice before investing a large sum of money. Unless this is your “forever” home, make sure that (at the very least) your renovation costs will equal your equity.

2. What do I need?

Building a second story isn’t just about drafting some plans and hiring a contractor. There are many aspect to consider. How are we using this space? Where do we hang out every day? Open concept or not? What is our overall aesthetic? How does this house have to grow with us? This is an intense process that begins with your architect. Don’t rush it — it’s a lot cheaper to work out the details up front than noticing the framing has a weird layout during construction.

3. Who needs input?

Not only do you need an architect for design, you also need an architect to draft your plans so the Department of Zoning and Department of Buildings can have their say. They are the ones that decide if you can go further with your project. (Hint: make friends with your Alderman!)

4. How much will this cost?

This really depends on your house. For example, are you adding a brand new second story with HVAC, new electrical and plumbing without doing a gut rehab of the first floor? Unlikely….or awkward. Constructing an addition of any kind is a perpetual escalating scope item. If you do one thing, you’ll probably want to do four more to make the design copacetic. Remember, this is an investment. When it comes to major construction, go big or go home. (Pun intended)

5. How much time will it take?

Once your architect and contractor are ready to execute, the project could take up to a year. There is about four to six months of planning and then the rest is construction. You’re going to have to live somewhere during this time, and this cost should be calculated into your budget.

So, think about if this works for you. More questions? Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to discuss adding a second story onto your home!

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