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Honolulu Second Story Additions

Second Story Additions in Hawaii

Second story additions dramatically change the appearance and add character and function to a house, so it’s important to get it right. While beautiful, second stories are complex projects and typically require structural upgrades to the existing home. At a minimum new mechanical, plumbing, and electrical services will need to extend to the new space.

Here are other issues to consider:

Structural Upgrades

Second stories are heavy and generally require structural upgrades to the existing house. Also the foundation, footing sizes and capacity of the existing house to resist lateral movement from earthquakes or wind must be assessed.

New Floor Assembly

Existing ceilings and ceiling joists are often left in the first story, so as not to disrupt existing electrical lines and lighting, and a new floor structure is placed on top. However this leads to a thick floor assembly which will require additional stairs. For the exterior, special attention should be given to the resulting proportions, ensuring that the house doesn’t look too top-heavy.

Consider Vaulted Ceilings

Second story additions often use scissor trusses, which create vaulted ceilings. If the roof is stick-framed (rather than trussed), consider vaulted ceilings for specific rooms like the master bedroom.

Heating and Cooling

It’s not always feasible to extend existing heating and/or cooling to the upstairs; the oft better alternative is to add separate equipment to the upper level. Since warm air rises, having the top half of the house on its own system will be comfortable and efficient.

Assess Plumbing Drains

It’s sometimes possible to tie new plumbing into existing infrastructure. Otherwise, drains may need to route through the main level to a crawl space or basement. If not planned and executed properly, on site changes are likely to incur time delays and additional project costs.

Make the Staircase a Focal Point

Consider the staircase, the singular element connecting the two floors together, to be an opportunity to create a dramatic space. Strategic lighting, for example, could brighten the first floor and highlight artwork.

Think About All of the Rooms

A den or family hangout space is useful to have upstairs, and such large areas can double as a guest rooms if a sofa bed is incorporated. Also consider a computer nook with room for kids to do homework or parents to pay the bills.


A second story addition comes with unique challenges, but it’s often one of the best ways to add space. It will dramatically change the exterior appearance of a home, and make the interior much more spacious and functional. When done properly, homeowners experience a dynamic new area for their homes.

All projects begin with a brief on-site consultation: 808-221-2868