I Have Learned More Than I Want to About Second Story Additions

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California Silicon Valley Probate, Trust, and Investment Sales B.R.E. 01191194


I have never been a huge fan of expanded homes. There are a number of problems that can come with these properties. The expansion could have been done in a way that destroyed the original charm of the home.  The addition could have been done without the needed permits. And then there's what I am dealing with right now: the extension was done in a way that enhances the look of the home, and was done with architectural drawings, an engineering stamp, and a permit that has a final from the city, but there are still problems.

When a home is built the foundation is poured first, and all of the bolts, rebar, hold downs, and all the other hardware with technical names are put in where they belong without any problems.  The home is built on top of it, and if it has a crawl space there are often areas with good access and other areas that are harder to get to.

All is fine, until you add a second story. To do that properly you will need an architect and an engineer to do the calculations of what's needed to shore up the foundation in order to support the second story.  In California we require extra seismic upgrades in case of earthquakes. I assume in tornado, hurricane, or blizzard prone areas there are specific upgrades as well.  There are things which need to be done underneath the house that are not always so easy, especially if access is limited. 

The city will come and inspect the work, but may not go all the way under the house and count every bolt and check every nail.  If they sign off the inspection then the permit is issued. There may be some missing bolts, nails, plywood, hold downs, or other things missing.

I learned today that if the city signs off on the inspection, then that is that. At least in California the building code says the city is not liable if they make a mistake. If that happens whoever owns the home at the time of discovery is left holding the bag.

So, my lesson here is that if you are listing or helping a buyer purchase a home with a second story addition it is a good idea to get an engineer to make sure the work was done correctly, and do not depend on the fact that it was done with a permit.  The permit does not guarantee accuracy of construction, only that the drawings were done to code.

Did you know that?

Marcy Moyer
Keller Williams Realty
D.R.E.  01191194

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Marcy Moyer eXp Realty of California  Specializing in Probate and Trust Sales, and Rental Investment Properties



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Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

It's an interesting set of dynamics here in CA with the potential for seismic shift and living in a litigious state. My best to you in the resolution of this issue.

Jul 16, 2010 12:20 PM #1
Shelley Rowton
Move To Realty - Austin, TX
ABR, RSPS - (512) 507-5779 MoveToRealty of Austin

This is a set of circumstances I hope to not have to deal with!  LOL - Now I've done myself in...

Jul 16, 2010 12:28 PM #2
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Marcy Moyer

Probate, Trust, and Investment Specialist
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