Northern Virginia Home Addition: Building Options

April 26, 2018

Many of the homes in Northern VA were built decades ago when common home layouts and sizes were much different. If you are finding that you don’t have enough functional living space in your home, it might be time to add an addition. This space can include a guest room, a master suite, a playroom, a family room, or whatever is most advantageous to for your family. By building up (adding a second story) or out (a ground floor addition), you’ll add a lot of new space to your home.

Before starting, here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Is there room for an addition? For example, is your yard large enough to accommodate an addition to your home?
  2. What are you missing in your home? How will this new space meet your family’s needs?
  3. How feasible is it to make the changes you’d like to make? Would you need to make significant changes to your home in order to do so?
  4. What are you comfortable spending on this project?

Building Out: Ground Floor Additions


The general consensus is that ground floors are a simpler project. Most additions involve adding to the ground floor of a home. Your contractor will add a new slab of foundation and build up the walls from there, which will ultimately be attached to your existing home.


  1. The least disruption to the existing space
  2. With smaller additions, you may be able to do a “bump out,” which avoids additional foundation work altogether
  3. Typically more affordable 


  1. Losing space in your yard
  2. You could come across red tape with zoning limitations

Building Up: Second Story Additions

Building up means that there is already foundation in place, and it is important that the existing foundation and footings are strong enough to hold a second story. You can add another story onto a one- or two-story home, or expand an existing top floor by installing large dormers in a pitched roof to gain useful living space. You may also add living space above an existing garage, porch, sunroom or other one-story wing.


  1. You will not lose yard space
  2. You are less likely to run into zoning limitations in the process
  3. You will not need to add new foundation


  1. Many towns have a height limit for houses
  2. It is a more invasive project, as the ceiling and walls below will be torn to allow for electrical, plumbing, and heating lines
  3. Tends to be more costly.

Other Considerations

It’s important to take note that if you decide on a second story addition, your roof will be removed and you may need to find temporary place to stay outside your home. There may also be greater risk of damage to the rest of your house (e.g., ceilings and floors on the ground floor).

Like any project, it’s important to keep in mind what goals you have for your new space(s). There are many reasons to build up or out depending on your home and family’s needs.


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About Lensis Builders, Inc.

Lensis Builders, Inc. is a build/design firm proudly serving the Northern Virginia area. We specialize in kitchen and bath design and remodeling, additions, whole house remodels, home energy and comfort solutions, porches, garages, and more. Our firm works closely with you to design and build the house of your dreams. We are passionate about building and remodeling and have been helping homeowners “love where they live” for 20 years.