Addition FAQs

Q. I need more space. Is it better to bump out or add a second floor?

A. Adding a second floor is good if you need a lot of space and it suits the neighborhood aesthetically and architecturally. Bumping out is good if you have the physical lot size and want more accessible space on a convenient floor.

Q. I am concerned that the addition will make the adjacent rooms darker and destroy the view.
What do you suggest?

A. Incorporating large windows, vaulting the ceiling and removing the interior wall actually can increase light and improve the view.

Q. I have a two-story house. If I am bumping out, does it make more sense to add a two-story addition than a one-story addition?

A. Yes. Providing the added space is needed on both levels and at the same location. You get twice the space between the same foundation and roof. For a very small addition, you may be able to cantilever out to gain a little space at a modest cost. However, if you need to build a foundation, it is more cost effective to go bigger than smaller.

Q. I have a one-story house and am considering adding a second floor.
Should I be concerned that the first floor may be ruined by severe weather after you take the roof off?

A. Yes. Weather can be an issue. We have large tarps to cover an entire dwelling in case of a sudden change of weather.

Q. I’ve heard that the existing roof system can be raised and lowered onto new walls when adding a second level. Is this how you approach it?

A. It depends on the condition of the roof and the type of framing. We have used cranes to lift existing roof systems and reinstall them atop new walls. To conserve energy and avoid ice dams, we usually recommend new trusses with energy heels that allow for superior insulation and wind blocking at the eaves.

Q. If I add a second floor, how much disruption/construction should I expect on the first floor?
Does the first floor stay pretty much intact or do you have to open walls, repaint etc.
How do I know that my first floor framing is sufficient for the weight of the second floor and everything in it?

A. Upon inspection we determine if the drywall ceiling can stay intact. Some modifications usually are required on the main level for the new stairway and chases for the HVAC systems. Several walls may need to be opened to plumbing waste and water pipes.

Q. Do the interior walls on the second floor need to mirror those of the first? Must bathrooms be stacked?

A. Load bearing walls usually are built over the other load bearing walls but the roof load can be shifted with a different truss design. It is more cost effective to design bath locations above other plumbing locations on the main floor be they kitchen or bath, but it’s not required.

Q. Do people typically continue to live in their homes when they are adding a second floor or do they move out for a period?

A. In most cases we recommend they move out for one to two months for their own safety and convenience.

Q. How do you ensure that the addition looks appropriate architecturally?

A. Much emphasis is put into the planning stage. We match finishes, elevations, and styles and give great attention to architectural balance.

Q. On a square foot basis, what is the typical difference between the cost of going up or out?

A. It is very difficult to place square foot price on either of these types of projects. Access to the work area and the vintage of existing construction and mechanical systems vary greatly. This impacts the scope of work.

Q. How close to my property line can I build? Are there any height restrictions?

A. Zoning regulation usually impose front, side and rear yard setback requirements. Additions also may be limited by easements. The setbacks may be set by a percentage of the width or depth of your lot with a minimum limit. Check with your local building department.

Q. What are some reasons why it would be smarter to make better or different use of existing space rather than to add on?

A. Creating multi-function spaces from existing areas may be better if existing space is grossly underused or you lack the land or budget for an addition.

Q. Should I build my addition on a slab, on piers or over a full basement or crawl space?

A. We typically suggest building on a crawlspace or, with a little more effort, on a full basement. These foundations create a warmer floor and ensure year round comfort in the new space. Slab on grade foundations also work well, but we insulate the foundation and often install "in floor heat" to truly make a comfortable living space. Piers usually are reserved for porches and decks that do not need to be insulated to the same degree as a house. If budget dictates an addition to be built on piers, we refer to it as 3-1/2 season porch. It’s difficult to maintain comfortable floor temperatures in Minnesota winters in additions built on piers.

Q. How much can I cantilever a bump-out over the existing foundation?

A. IRC building codes allow up to a 24-in. cantilever if the new floor joists can be extended 48" into the existing floor system. With special engineering, this can be extended. Much care is required to seal off air transfer and insulate the cantilevered floor to make it comfortable and energy efficient year round.

Q. Can I add dormers or raise the roof and convert my attic into living space? Can I convert the area over my finished garage?

A. Many homes and garages are built with framing members that block the space and are not designed carry additional weight. However it may be possible to replace (or modify) the roof system with one that is designed to provide usable space.

Q. Is it better to match the existing siding, windows and trim or to finish an addition with a different material?

A. Windows and trim usually should match existing. However a contrasting siding material such as brick or stone can work to preserve original scale in some designs.

Q. I have an older home. Should I be concerned about lead exposure during or after the project?

A. Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint. Special care must be taken when disturbing these surfaces during demolition. Pregnant women and children are most at risk. We receive special EPA training and certification to work on older homes safely.

Q. When is it too late in the year to start a second story addition or bump out? How early in the year can you typically begin one?

A. In the fall, it depends on the temperature and amount of snow cover for starting both types of projects. In the spring, foundations would start after frost is gone (mid to late April). For second story additions, we have found that snow can easily be swept off construction areas before creating collateral damage to the rest of the home. So mild winter is not a bad time to do a 2nd story addition. We typically close in the new exterior walls and roof before the existing wall is removed on an addition.

Q. On a square footage cost basis does it make more sense to build a larger addition while I am at it? At what point is an addition so small that it doesn’t justify the cost?

A. The square foot cost for an addition typically is more than that of new construction. Although a larger addition will cost more to build than a small one, the square foot cost of the larger addition will be lower. I don't typically use square foot costs for smaller additions because there are too many variables and because the cost of tying into the existing floor plans doesn’t show up in square-foot pricing.

Q. What if the addition means I will want to repurpose some existing space? Would you remodel the existing rooms at the same time, before, after?

A. Most additions require some modifications to adjacent rooms to create good traffic flow to and from the new space. It certainly makes sense to complete this in conjunction with work on the addition for a complete, finished and cost effective outcome.

Q. Should an addition be in keeping with the quality and style of the rest of the house or can it be much higher or lower quality in terms of materials and finish?

A. My goal in designing and building an addition is that it shouldn't look like an addition. It should blend seamlessly into the rest of the home both in style and materials. And traffic patterns should flow naturally from one room to the next.

Basement FAQs

Q. What does it cost to remodel a basement?

A. The Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value study estimates a basement remodeling to cost $64,455 in the Minneapolis metro. This includes a 20x30 entertainment area, full bath, wet bar with oak cabinets and laminate counter, drywall walls and ceilings, six-panel hardboard doors and enclosed mechanical room.

Q. I have white powder on my basement block walls. Is this a problem?

A. The white powder (efflorescence) is from mineral deposits in the concrete that moisture pushed to the surface. The surface can be cleaned and sealed but the real solution is to reduce the moisture entering the foundation by improvement landscape drainage. If moisture on the concrete foundation is an issue, we may need to add a drain-tile system before we finish your basement.

Q. How long does it take to finish a basement?

A. Assuming it include a bathroom and a bar area, a basement remodeling generally takes four to six weeks.

Q. How can I ensure my basement is warm enough in winter?

A. Adding ceiling heat registers from the ducts that supply upper rooms is the easiest but least effective way to heat a basement. Zoned heating with registers at floor level or in-floor coils under tiles provides the best comfort. You may be able to add a dedicated basement zone to your existing furnace. If you have the headroom, you also can install a special subfloor such as DriCore that serves as a barrier from damp concrete and helps maintain a healthy and even temperature.

Bathrooms FAQs

Q. How long does a bathroom remodeling project take?

A. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, a bathroom remodeling can take three to eight weeks. Figure a minimum of one week for design and another for inspections. Changing the location of fixtures or moving or removing walls will add time and expense.

Q. Do I need to have a bathroom design in mind before we meet?

A. No. Tomco is a design-build firm with certifications in kitchen and bath remodeling and aging in place and long relationships with gifted interior designers. We can guide you as you choose a layout, features and finishes. Share your vision in photos by creating an ideabook on www.houzz.com, snapping pictures of store displays or friends’ bathrooms you like or by clipping photos from publications and catalogues.

Q. What can I do to make a small bath feel bigger?

A. Consider a pedestal sink rather than a boxy vanity, a free-standing tub, and clear glass shower doors. In-wall niches save space and add dimension to narrow spaces. And add some natural lighting.

Q. What does a mid-range or high-end bathroom cost?

A. The 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value report puts a mid-range bathroom remodeling cost at $16,145 and a new mid-range bathroom at $38,305 in the Minneapolis area. They estimate a high-end bathroom at $51,592 for remodeled and $72,618 for new. They say you can expect to recoup 63 percent of a mid-range remodel the cost at resale. An upscale remodel will return 52 percent of its value. Adding a bathroom will have less payback.

Q. How can I retain natural light in a bathroom whose window prevents privacy from neighbors?

A. Add a skylight or replace the window with glass block or obscured glass.

Q. How can I conserve water in my new bathroom?

A.Choose EPA WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures, which are certified to use 20 percent less water without sacrificing performance.

Q. How do I choose a floor tile that will not be too slippery when wet?

A. Select a glazed tile with a rougher texture and a wet Coefficient of Friction (CoF) of 0.60 or more.