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Times are changing and it’s become clear your historic Main Line home is in need of remodeling to accommodate your growing family. For most people, adding on to their home requires first deciding whether to build up or out. For historically significant homes in Philadelphia and on the Mainline, homeowners tend to build up in an effort to preserve the integrity of both their lot size and the surrounding neighborhood.

Second Story Additions



If you’re looking to add extra rooms – particularly bedrooms and baths – to your Philadelphia or Mainline area home, it makes sense to build up. While this option is not without its unique challenges, it does allow you to increase your living space without extending past your lot restrictions. Here are some common questions we hear from homeowners considering a second floor addition:

  • Why should I choose a second story over additional first floor footage? Adding to the first floor can cost more due to the need for a foundation, site engineering, and stormwater management. You can also run into impervious coverage limitations or lot line restrictions. Beyond those considerations, You may want to preserve your lot if you’re an avid gardener, plan on one day installing a pool, or you envision adding a garage or artist’s retreat.
  • What are some of the obstacles? Depending on where you live, your township may have zoning laws that dictate how close you can build to an adjacent lot. Others may have ordinances that restrict how high you can build up. Make sure to work with a design/build company who is familiar with the local rules and regulations.
  • What will it cost? Building up can be less costly for the reasons listed above. Things that can drive up the costs include complex roof lines, structural modifications to the existing home, extensive plumbing, heating, and air conditioning requirements, new staircases or elevators..
  • How do I find the best remodeler? This is definitely not a job for an amateur. You’ll need a contractor with plenty of experience working with historic homes, so do your homework, ask plenty of questions and find someone who has the right mix of expertise and professionalism, yet will treat your home as if it were their own.
Before: Oats Front

Before: Oats Front

After: Oats Front

After: Oats Front

The Benefits of a Second Story Addition

One of the biggest benefits to building up your Philadelphia area home is preserving the yard for your children to play in, for entertaining guests, and for letting pets run free. On top of that you may be saving money over building out.

To keep the process as stress-free as possible, experts recommend that you:

  • Be realistic about the time the project will take. From initial designs through permitting and from demolition through painting and punch list, a project of this scope can take from 6 months to a year to complete.
  • Anticipate that the first level of your home will be affected. Walls may need to be opened for new posts and beams, windows may need to replaced, stucco will have to be completely redone so that it matches the addition, etc.
  • Consider if moving out of the house makes sense for part or all of the construction.
Before: Oats Rear View

Before: Oats Rear View

After: Oats Rear View

After: Oats Rear View

Because no two houses are alike, it’s important to make all your design decisions during the planning stage and keep change orders to a bare minimum. Through it all, good communication with your design/build team is key.

Mainline and Philadelphia Pop Tops

The Mainline’s high property values make pop top projects extremely attractive for the area’s homeowners. It’s a beautiful way to transform your home into the space your growing family needs without leaving the neighborhood you’ve grown to love. Pop tops are perfect for enhancing outdated properties. Even when adding a master suite, family entertainment room, or additional bedrooms and baths, your home’s original structure and architectural integrity are uncompromised.
Adding a second story addition is a greater challenge than most homeowners realize. At Cottage, we understand the unique challenges of remodeling a Main Line area home and we offer a comprehensive approach to historical home renovation that focuses on the homeowner’s comfort level and budgetary needs. Schedule an in-home consultation with us to learn more.

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