Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Two-Story Home Addition Project

By: Danny Lipford

To modernize this older home and increase the living space, we added a two-story addition of over 2,000 square feet, along with a 500-square-foot porch. This massive renovation project took months to complete, but the result was well worth it.

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Danny Lipford: This is a massive addition be being built to this home, but we’ll have it complete in the next half hour.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford. The voice of home improvement with projects, tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: What a beautiful house, a lot of architectural style to it and obviously one with a lot of potential. It’s located in Mobile, Alabama in this wonderful neighborhood where each and every street is shaded with a canopy of oak trees. A lot of families, a lot of sidewalks, just overall a wonderful neighborhood so you can see where it would be very desirable for a family to move to.

Now the house itself needed a fair amount of work to get it up to standards but the new family that bought this house knew they would need more living space so we’re taking care of that by adding over 2,000 square feet with two-story additions on this side of the house, as well as a 500 square foot porch that’ll be attached to the back as well.

Now we had to do a lot of demolition to remove existing additions here that just were not built right, we’re going back the right way and we’re gonna get it all completed in the next half hour, stay with us.

Danny Lipford: On a large renovation project like this, you just have to have someone that holds it all together, a job foreman is responsible for all of the carpenters, subcontractors, material deliveries, and also talking with the homeowners from time to time. The guy that’s holding it together around here is Joe Denson, the foreman on this project. Now, Joe you’ve been out here a couple weeks making great progress, had good weather, but had a lot of demolition to do before you could get started on anything.

Joe Denson: We certainly did, there was a lot of clearing to the ground, and we had two single story additions on the back of the house right here that we had to tear down. Went from single story additions to the ground clearing and the grade stakes. And as you can see we’ve got our concrete footers dug and poured yesterday. And at this point we’ve got our brick mason’s scheduled in tomorrow, and we’re ready to proceed with the next phase.

Danny Lipford: Now all the demolition and everything, I know that all of those had to be eliminated because on the additions the foundation found there was just not sufficient for the two-story. And I understand you’re going a good bit larger with the new addition.

Joe Denson: That’s correct, the existing additions would not have carried the weight of two-story additions on it. And the footprint of the additions that we’re gonna put up are larger than what was in their original.

Danny Lipford: I understand you had a little help with some heavy machinery there.

Joe Denson: We did, we did, we had a backhoe come in and help us clear and take everything out which we let him do the heavy lifting and we did the thinking on it.

Danny Lipford: Well that’s good, that’s great. And I understand this was all wooded in here and you couldn’t even hardly tell the house was there, so I know all of that was a big change on here. Now, I understand there was a code issue that’s requiring that this be a concrete slab, instead of doing like we normally do to match up the wood floor in a case like this older house.

Joe Denson: That’s correct the elevation of the existing house in relation to the existing grade of the ground, there was not enough space for the crawl space underneath. So in this case, we’re going to put our block walls in, back fill everything with dirt, and then pour concrete slabs on top of it that will match the floor elevation inside the existing structure.

Danny Lipford: I see so as far as the flowing of the floor levels from one to the next, you’re not gonna see anything there and certainly outside is gonna all look like it’s all part of the original house.

Joe Denson: That’s correct.

Danny Lipford: Okay, so you really need some block masons really quick.

Joe Denson: I sure do, they’ll be in here tomorrow, and we’re gonna turn them loose.

Danny Lipford: Joe was serious about putting these guys to work because there’s a lot of blocks to lay here, and as soon as the mortar sets up this packable fill dirt will be spread inside the forms created by the block wall. Although the concrete will be 2 feet deep under the walls that support the second story, it will only be about 4 inches thick everywhere else. Fill dirt makes up that difference but it has to be tightly packed so that it doesn’t settle under the weight of the concrete.

Next the plastic vapor barrier covers the clay before steel reinforcement rods and wire are put into place to strengthen the slab. Finally, the concrete arrives to fill the forms to create the ground floor of this two-story addition. When the crew has worked it to a nice smooth finish J-bolts are set into the wet concrete to anchor the 2×6 walls that start going up the very next day. In very little time that ground floor is framed and it’s time to start on the second story.

We’ve used 2x6s for downstairs studs for a couple of different reasons, one we have a lot of weight to support with our second-story additions, plus by using 2x6s you have more space in your walls to install insulation which will make this addition a lot more energy efficient than the original home. Now after all of our stud walls were in place, we used a few 2x4s and 2x6s as diagonal braces to keep them nice and strait and plum. Then we started in with the installation of all of our wood I-beams.

Now, the wood I-beams are an engineered building component that’s been around for a long time, and it’s a very green way of building because you’re able to use a lot of materials that may have ended up in the landfill. Those materials are used in the manufacturing of the OSB, or oriented strand board, as well as the little 2x2s that are on each end of the joist. You can see little strips of wood that are all glued together to make up these pieces.

Now by manufacturing in this way, it’s very unlikely you’ll get any type of deflection or warpage in the joist. And you’re able to span a lot longer space than you normally could with regular wood. Here 19 feet, the other addition over 21 feet, without any type of vertical support other than the outside walls.

Also we have 16 inches to work with here between where the plywood will be nailed on top and the drywall on the inside for the ceiling. So plenty of room for the heating and cooling contractor to run all the duct work, the electrician can run all the wires. And if the plumber needs a little space to run a few pipes, no problem at all on that.

Now that they’ve gotten all of this in place they’ve started in on their ¾-inch plywood subfloor. Next will be our second story walls.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: The best way to maintain a wood deck is to power wash the surface every year or two, but it’s also important to clean out the spaces between the deck boards. Most decks have a gap between each board of an eighth to a quarter of an inch, and over time they get packed with debris and leaves. If you don’t clear those out, they’ll hold moisture, which can eventually lead to rot. So you know you need to do it out, but how can you possibly do that in such a tight space?

Well here’s one trick, go to a hardware store and buy a couple of these L-hooks, they only cost pennies a piece and they come in various sizes. And this one I took and I put into the end of an old broom handle and left an inch and a half or so sticking out. Now I can reach in between the boards and just pull out the debris. You want to clean out every one, and even the gap over here, here you see where the deck meets the patio is completely full of pine needles and leaves.

And again if you keep that clean, depending on the proximity to the trees your deck, you may need to clean this out every year or two. But keeping that clean will allow air to pass between the boards, and keep them nice and dry.

Danny Lipford: Joe, the framing just looks great! We’re back out on the jobsite looking at a very large addition that’s being built. And Joe, I noticed they’ve complete all of the downstairs framing, upstairs framing, and working on the siding. And see the homeowners chose a type of siding that a lot of people are finding out about these days, fiber cement.

Joe Denson: They did, we’re installing this on more and more houses now and the reason is we can get it in the same widths as the wood siding that’s on the house. It’s much more durable and once it paint’s up, you can’t tell the difference where we’ve tied the corners in.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, and the homeowners will like it a lot more too because it’s a lot more maintenance free then wood, hold up paint real well, and termites you know won’t even touch it. But what’d you guys do here on the corner? Looks like you added a little bit of an architectural touch here.

Joe Denson: We did, the architect put the slotted column in to match what was on the original addition of the house, so we took the same fiber cement material, and we just routed flutes in it with a regular router bit.

Danny Lipford: Well that really adds a lot to it, are you going to continue this on up.

Joe Denson: We certainly will. Once our small roof goes on, we’ll have a good starting point, and we’ll continue it right up to the second floor.

Danny Lipford: Now what about the small roof, I know that’ll add a nice little architectural element to it, but it has to provide some type of protection for all these wood windows.

Joe Denson: It certainly does, the windows are made out of solid wood, even though they have fiber cement trim on them. So any water we can keep off of them is better in the long run.

Danny Lipford: That makes sense and all of this will tie in real nice once it’s painted. Hey, I’m anxious to see what’s going on inside. Man, you’re doing a lot of work here in this existing house as well.

Joe Denson: That’s true we’ve demoed just about all of the original house, and of course you can see we’ve had to add new framing, straighten walls, add new stairwell, board up what use to be exterior windows, and create passage ways in the addition to tie the two together.

Danny Lipford: Yeah this looks real well from the existing into this new room. I understand the homeowners are planning on using this as a study.

Joe Denson: The study and they’re very excited about it, they’ve seen it since the windows have gone in. Give them a lot of light, and they’re already trying to decide where to put the furniture in here.

Danny Lipford: Well, it’s not too early to start thinking about furniture. speaking of furniture, they need a whole truckload to fill up this room, this is going to be a family room, huh?

Joe Denson: This is the family room, and this one room alone is over 500 square feet.

Danny Lipford: Wow. Well, plenty of light here from the windows that are already in place, but here on the back with all the plywood, I understand a couple of large French doors are on their way.

Joe Denson: French doors left and right and fantastic masonry fireplace right in the middle.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’ll be great. You got to have a fireplace in a family room.

Joe Denson: It’s gonna be great.

Danny Lipford: All right, now over here I understand this will be just an extension of the kitchen itself. Little breakfast area, you have bathroom, storage room, and then a nice little entry way coming in, kind of right here in the center of the house. But I can’t way to see upstairs, see what’s going on. I know there were a few rooms in the existing upstairs part of the house, but where did the back wall actually lay out in here?

Joe Denson: The original back wall of the house followed right down the rear of the hallway and stopped at the corner right below us.

Danny Lipford: Okay, alright, and you’ve pretty much reallocated every bit of the space up here.

Joe Denson: We did we kept only two rooms that were original to the upstairs and changed the floor plan of everything else to meet the homeowners’ needs.

Danny Lipford: And you kind of have a hallway here that leads into the space that’s above the study that we looked at earlier. Now, how do the homeowners plan on using this upstairs space?

Joe Denson: Well the upstairs space above the study is the daughter’s bedroom. And again, she’s got plenty of windows, all of the windows line up with windows below so she gets plenty of natural light. And she has her own walk in closet and bathroom to boot.

Danny Lipford: Well, that’s not a bad layout at all for a little girl.

Joe Denson: Absolutely, it is.

Danny Lipford: Now, the large space above the downstairs family room will be used how?

Joe Denson: Well this area is a spacious master bathroom; it has two separate walk in closets, built in shower unit, whirlpool tub. And the other half is the master bedroom.

Danny Lipford: Great and I love the windows in the back with the windows directly over the tub there. It’s pretty good, but you got to whole lot more work to do. And we’re gonna rap all of this up within this week’s show, and we’ll show you the finished product in just a little bit but first our Best New Product of the week.

Danny Lipford: Outdoor entertaining areas are becoming more and more popular, and to go along with the barbecue grill, what could be more convenient than a refrigerator. The problem is, is if you try to move an ordinary refrigerator outside, it often won’t maintain its temperature, either because the weather is too hot or too cold. In those cases you end up with food or drinks that aren’t cold enough or are completely frozen. The solution is to create a refrigerator that’s designed for outdoor use, which is exactly what Franklin Chef has done.

Now, this stainless steel mini fridge is well approved for outdoor use, so it’ll continue to maintain its temperature in almost any kind of weather. The stainless steel shell will protect it from the elements if it’s freestanding, or you can build it right in to an outdoor kitchen. The reversible door is lockable, which is a great idea for any outside appliance. And inside there’s almost 5 cubic feet of storage space, with glass shelves that slide in and out as well removable baskets. Now, at almost $900 this convenience isn’t cheap, but it sure would look good on your patio.

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Danny Lipford: Our guys are really going to have to hustle to complete all of the fiber cement siding on the outside of this two-story addition before this thunderstorm hits, but they should be able to make because they have very little left to complete it. Now after that, we’re ready to turn it over to our exterior painting for all the caulking, priming, and painting that’ll be necessary to complete the outside. Now, while all of this work’s been going on outside there’s been a lot taking place inside as well.

As we mentioned earlier the two-story addition we’re building on this side of this home is part of an extensive whole house renovation, and when we passed through this area last nothing but bare studs. Since all the original walls had to be removed so that we could update the electrical, plumbing, and add a little insulation to make the overall home a little more energy efficient.

Now, downstairs in the addition this is the room that’ll be used for a little study area and Mark, our finisher, is in the process of applying our first coat of mud and tape to finish all of the walls. And you know a lot of times when you hang drywall in a room it makes the room appear a little smaller, not in this case. Probably because all of the natural light that we’re getting in from the 5 large windows on this side, and we’ll even have more natural light once we remove the protective plywood from the French doors on this side of the room and this side of the room.

Now, these two doors kind of are like bookends to the focal point of this room, which is the fireplace, that was installed a few weeks ago. This particular fireplace is a pre-engineered masonry unit that is simply assembled onsite from components that are created in a factory. Each piece is set in place and secured with mortar, but because they have been precast to fit together in a specific way the resulting fireplace is exactly the right size and shape to vent properly and project heat into the home, instead of letting it all escape up the chimney. Even the materials the components are made from help reflect heat inward, unlike traditional masonry which tends to absorb it. Installation of these fireplaces also go a lot quicker than the traditional method that would take a highly skilled brick mason days to complete, so the cost is considerably lower. Later the interior and exterior surfaces of this unit will be finished with materials that the homeowners have selected.

Speaking of finishing, Mark has a lot of that to do because there were hundreds of boards of drywall hung in this house in the last week or so, and every seam has to be taped and every nail or screw hole has to be covered with joint compound. When he’s happy with his finish of the walls and the ceiling, it’s time for our finish carpenter to take over and begin the installation of all the trim.

Now, the molding we’re using here, like two stage crown molding, are a little wider because we want to make sure that we get the character of this older home. In preparation for the new floors, we’re laying down an adhesive and a vapor barrier over the concrete slab before ¾-inch plywood is nailed down on top of it. On top of this a layer of building felt is laid before hardwood floors start going in.

Now, we’re taking all of these precautions because a true ¾-inch, nailed down hardwood floor is very susceptible to moisture, and if it gets in up through the slab it could cause the finished floors to buckle and warp, but that won’t happen here.

Outside, there’s also plenty of work going on, the guys are finishing up the last few pieces of fiber cement siding on the addition, and the old wood siding that remained on the existing house is being prepped for a brand new paint job. After they scrape and sand, the decades of old paint on the siding the whole house is pressure washed to be sure the old siding is ready for the paint.

When you have a room this large, you just have to have a large television. And our cabinetmaker’s making this great custom cabinet that’ll recess right in this wall with a large screen television. Now, this is just one of the ways we’re kind of combining some of the modern conveniences with a traditional look of the old trim and hardwood floors in almost every room. Now you can see our mountain of plumbing fixtures that are about to hauled upstairs and be installed in our new bathrooms, and we’re very close to finishing this project that’s taken quite a while to put together, and we’ll give you the tour next.

Tricia Craven Worley: There are times when we simply have to consider removing a tree or shrub from our garden, like this poor sycamore who has served it’s time, it just really needs to go. But there’s some other times that really aren’t that obvious. For example if you’ve planted a tree or shrub near a window in your house, and it’s beginning to block part of the view, this is a time to consider taking it out. Also if it’s grown too big and it’s out of scale with the house, rather than topping it, which leaves the tree open to disease, this would be a good time to remove it.

Now, there are a lot of plants that attract ants in their process of opening blossoms, like pianese. And if it’s too close to your house, it might attract the ants inside and that would definitely not be a good idea.

And then finally if you’re thinking about or in the process of remodeling your home, take a look very carefully at the trees and shrubs that you already have, because along with the changes that you’ve made to your house, you might want to make some changes too in that garden.

If you own a home, you have questions. Bring your questions to the message boards at todayshomeowner.com. Novices and pros alike come here for information and inspiration. Join the discussion at todayshomeowner.com today.

Danny Lipford: It’s taken several months and thousands of man hours, but our two-story addition renovation is finally complete. We’ve essentially created a brand new home, with the character and the feel of a much older one. The house we started with was in pretty sad shape. It had been added on to in a couple of different places, but the additions were really not done very well, and didn’t fit the character of this older home.

We began by demolishing those additions and starting over with a new larger foundation. Then after framing the additions and tying in the roof structure, the work on the inside of both the old and the new spaces began. The results are spectacular, upstairs the bedrooms are large and spacious with plenty of natural light, and the master suite has got a thoroughly modern and elegant master bath to make the house function just like a new one.

Downstairs the front room looks beautiful, and the study is a bright comfortable retreat. The massive family room has also turned out beautifully, with plenty of natural light and a great focal point in the masonry fireplace. The large back porch will offer a comfortable outside space as well. This project has been an amazing transformation and most likely it’s a little larger than maybe a project you’d have planned at your house. But we included some cool stuff that I know you can use when you are ready to improve your place. Hey, thanks for being with us, I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you soon.

Next week we look at what we think are the 10 most common interior repairs.



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