Adding a Second Storey to a Bungalow Before Selling?

There are pros and cons to adding a second story to a bungalow before selling.

By Emily Southey | 8 minute read

Feb 7

home construction

A second-storey addition can enlarge a living space and add value to your home. But before you dive into such a major project, it’s important to consider a wide variety of factors, such as the estimated costs and length of time it would take to complete. Below, we get into the pros and cons of adding a second storey to your bungalow before selling, as well as an approximate cost breakdown for doing so. By the end of this article, you should have a much better idea about whether adding a second storey is the right move for you.

Second-Storey Renovation Options

Did you know that you actually have several options when it comes to adding a second storey? That’s right. In fact, there are at least four ways to vertically expand your home through remodelling. How you ultimately go about adding a second storey is up to you, but to make sure you understand your options, we outline each below:  

  • Build a second storey from scratch: The first option is to remove the roof and build an entirely new upper level from scratch.  
  • Temporarily sever the existing roof: The second option is to sever the existing roof around the edges and lift it off temporarily. From there, you would build the second storey and then put the previous roof back in place once it has been framed. 
  • Expand an upper level: The third option for your second-storey addition is to expand an upper level out across a section of the first storey that already exists, such as a flat-roof garage, pool, or porch (this option will only work for houses that are currently more than one storey).
  • Build a modular addition off-site: One final option is to create a modular second-storey addition that is designed and built off-site and then delivered, fully built, to your home. This method can be both quick and cost-effective.


The Benefits of a Second-Floor Addition 

To help you decide if adding a second floor to your bungalow is right for you, we are breaking down the benefits of second-storey additions below.

One of the main benefits that a second-storey addition provides is the increased amount of livable space in your home. This can be a huge selling point for growing families, as with more space comes more privacy. Homeowners adding a second floor may even use it as an opportunity to improve the main floor, by making the walls a few inches higher before adding the new level. Plus, when you build vertically, such as by adding a second storey onto an existing home, you don’t lose out on exterior space. All existing outdoor features, such as fences, patios, and driveways, stay where they are. This allows homeowners to preserve precious outdoor space.


Further, adding a second storey to your home rather than expanding the main floor may actually be more cost-effective. Heating and cooling costs tend to be less expensive in two-storey expansions. Plus, the amount of plumbing and electrical work needed for an addition project is typically less than average. (That said, this will depend on the exact floor plan so we recommend consulting with a professional contractor, plumber, and/or electrician to better optimize your space.)

One final benefit of adding a second storey is the potential increase in property value. By significantly expanding the amount of livable space in your home (for example, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms), you will likely be able to get a significantly higher sale price when it comes time to sell.

“Adding a second storey to your home rather than expanding the main floor may actually be more cost-effective. Heating and cooling costs tend to be less expensive in two-storey expansions.”

The Drawbacks of a Second-Floor Addition 

Although second-floor additions offer plenty of benefits, there are also a few drawbacks or concerns to be aware of. First, second-storey additions can be both expensive and intrusive. We will go into further detail about the cost later on, but it’s worth noting that they are typically costlier than a standard room addition and more intrusive than other types of home renovations.

When budgeting for your second-floor addition, make sure to consider all factors, such as the cost of raising or replacing the existing roof, the cost of reinforcing the foundation or any load-bearing walls, and accommodation expenses if you and your family have to stay elsewhere during the renovation (in most cases, the roof of your home will have to be removed during the renovation, which will make your home unlivable for the duration of the renovation). 

The Cost of Adding a Second Storey to a Bungalow

Now that you’re aware of some of the benefits and concerns of adding a second storey to your bungalow, let’s delve into the cost.

The cost of adding a second storey to a bungalow varies significantly, as it is dependent on many factors. The size of the addition, the materials used, whether the main floor is being renovated or remaining as is, and other issues can all impact the total cost. Generally speaking, you should expect a second-storey addition to cost six figures. For a two-bedroom addition at roughly 800 square feet, average costs come in at about $220,000. Meanwhile, for a three-bedroom addition of 1,200 square feet plus a main floor remodel, costs might be closer to $350,000.


To estimate the cost of your second-storey addition, make sure you budget for the following (these four components typically eat up the bulk of your budget when adding a second storey to a bungalow):

  • The cost of drawings and permits;
  • The cost of adding the second storey itself;
  • The cost of remodelling or renovating the main floor (if applicable); and
  • The costs relating to exterior property work (if applicable).

Most municipalities require homeowners to have detailed construction drawings in order to obtain a building permit. Therefore, you will need to hire an engineer or an architect to draft these drawings for you (and they will need to show all the structural engineering components of your new addition). Architect fees vary significantly but can cost as much as $30,000. Further, building permit fees can cost several thousand dollars as well. 


Meanwhile, the construction of the second storey will likely eat up most of your budget. This money will go toward removing the existing roof of your home, framing the new floor, walls, and roof, installing windows, setting up the structural elements, finishing the interior and exterior of the second storey, and reinstalling the roof (or building a new roof if you choose to go this route). There are also likely to be a few main-floor renovations. For example, some homeowners might choose to raise the walls of the main floor before adding the second storey for higher ceilings. But even if you choose to leave your main floor mostly as is, there will be some necessary renovation, such as adding a staircase and expanding the electrical and plumbing systems. 


Ultimately, if you are looking to add ample space to your home before selling (that is, several rooms rather than a one-room addition), adding a second storey is likely your best bet. Since minimal foundation work will be required, adding a second storey is often more cost-effective than significantly expanding the main floor (that said, when building vertically, you will need to have the foundation checked by an engineer to ensure it can support the extra weight). Further, there are ways to keep costs down when adding a second storey to a bungalow. For example, you might be able to save money if you lift the existing roof off of your home and reinstall it on your new addition rather than removing and installing a brand-new roof. (You will need to rent a crane to do this but it is still likely to be cheaper than building an entirely new roof.) In addition, once the foundation is complete, there might be a few tasks that you can finish yourself to cut costs. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any zoning regulations for adding a second storey to a bungalow home?

To add a second storey to your bungalow, you will need to research zoning laws in your area and likely obtain a building permit. For example, in Ontario, the government recommends asking your local planning and building department about zoning requirements for second-storey additions to residential properties. Specifically, you will need to find out whether you are required to apply for rezoning, whether you need approval to add a second unit, and whether your second storey will need to be licensed or registered with the municipality.  

How can you tell if a house can support a second-storey addition?

The best way to find out if your house can support a second-storey addition is to hire an engineer. A professional engineer can evaluate your home’s existing foundation and determine if adding a second storey is feasible. If so, they can also provide insight into what structural reinforcements will be needed to support the extra weight. The last thing you want is to start your renovation only to discover that your house can’t support a second-storey addition. Therefore, we recommend consulting with a professional as early as possible.

Can you still live in your house when a second storey is being added to a bungalow?

Typically, it is not possible to remain in your home during a second-storey addition renovation — at least not for all of it. In most cases, a second-storey addition requires the roof of your existing home to be removed, which leaves the top of your home exposed. It is usually covered with a tarp, but this doesn’t allow for comfortable living. Therefore, you and your family will likely need to find other accommodations during several stages of construction. 

Emily Southey

Wahi Writer