May 9, 2021 | Second Story Addition

Foundation Requirements for Adding a Second Story




It is not unusual to think to add up a little more space in the house for our expanding family members over time. Adding a second story can be an excellent way to expand the house’s size and make it more functional. This consideration of extending the home vertically might come to our mind when we have a limited land area and don’t want to spend extra money on laying a new foundation.

After deciding on adding a second story to the house, certain things need to be checked before the second story addition project starts. The very first thing that we need to check is whether the foundation can carry the second story addition or not. This is an essential and unavoidable task because if the foundation is not strong enough, the house might collapse at any time.

Before we discuss the requirements needed for a foundation to hold a second story, it would be great to know a little bit more about the types of foundations.

Shallow foundations:

A shallow foundation is one of the most popular foundations with low depth and suitable for lightweight structures. The depth is around 1.5 meters and usually doesn’t let the load carry out to the deep part of the ground. Lying this foundation is relatively cheap. There are several types of shallow foundations.

  • Isolated spread footing
  • Strip footing
  • Combined footing
  • Cantilever footing
  • Raft foundation

Deep foundations:

Deep foundations are founded too deep below the ground’s surface and carry the load deeper than shallow foundations. The depth is usually 3m below finished ground level. Deep foundations are used mostly for high-rise buildings and buildings that tend to carry a lot of weight. The types of deep foundations are given below.

  • Pier foundation
  • Pile foundation
  • Caisson foundation

Requirements of a foundation to add a second story

Determine the state of the existing foundation:

Before starting the second story addition, we need to check if the existing foundation is okay or not. The foundation might become weak over time because of cracks, rusting irons, and molds. What we need to do is, consult an engineer and let them examine the foundation. If the results show that the foundation can carry the extra load of a second story, then we can start the project.

We need to check the depth of the existing foundation elements, the condition of the walls of the foundation, and other damages. If the results are not good, we need to tear the whole house down and lay a new foundation for rebuilding the house. If this is not an option for us, we can forget to add the second story.

Getting government approval:

To begin the project, the first and foremost task is getting approval from the planning agency of the town. Because all town planning agencies do not usually approve of adding a second story on abuilding, which already exists.

The agencies generally insist on verifying the solidness of the foundation before we start. They also demand periodic supervision of the project to ensure we have met the government-prescribed standard.

However, thinking that this might be a hassle, we should not skip this part before starting the project. It not very uncommon for the government to demolish the property for bypassing the approval. Aside from all these facts, we also need to keep the risks in mind that we might face for not following the prescribed standards of government.

An approval from the government will save us from unnecessary interruptions and stress, and it will set us on track as far as the project is concerned.

Repair the existing foundation:

The foundation has to be durable enough to carry the weight of a two-story building. So after checking the foundation’s condition, here comes the art when we need to strengthen it. The ways to enhance the foundation are given below:

  • Jacketing: this method is used to strengthen the columns of the foundation. This is one of the common needs for those people who are going to expand the house. To follow this method, the construction team constructs a concrete jacket which is added to the existing footings of the building.
  • Underpinning: to increase the depth of the foundation or repair any significant damage, we can go for the underpinning method. This method can be applied if the building has cracks in it, which might be wider than ¼ of an inch and visible. Types of underpinning are:
  1.  Screw piles and brackets
  2. Mass pour
  3. Pile and beam
  4. Piled raft
  • Mud jacking: like the name indicates, mud jacking doesn’t use quite a mud. We can use this method to improve the smaller footprint spaces of the foundation. It is often used for porches, steps, and small concrete surfaces.
  • House lifting: this method is used to avoid damages from the flood. This process is not an easy one and lifts the entire house from the foundation by raising it with the help of screw jacks to improve the foundation underneath the house.

Get a compatible design:

We have to hire a structural engineer and ask them to give us a suitable design for the existing foundation after testing the capability. The design has to include the necessary pillars and staircases to be erected. It will also include the improvements needed to be done to the foundation.

The design should also include the type of roofing, additional load, and the uses of the rooms on the second floor. The structural engineer assigned for designing the new story might also advise if you should go on with the idea of the second story project or not, if the expenses of carrying out the second story project outweigh the benefits of the extra space, or if it will be a better option to rebuild the house.

It is worth keeping in mind that projects of this nature are expensive to carry out and may need more money than presumed.


Building a second story is undoubtfully a costly project to carry out. We might become less patient and excited after deciding on adding a second story. But we need to take proper steps before starting the project so that we don’t have to spend more and complete the second story addition project safely, which also meets our expectations.





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