Looking for pictures of tastefully done Ranch house additions

jennysjettaJuly 20, 2007

We're toying with the idea of having a second story and porch added to our ranch house. Right now it's a traditional brick ranch, approx. 30ft x 80ft built in the 1950's.

We don't know much about architecture, but most of the second story additions we've seen are out of character with ranch style-- like a 2nd floor was just dropped in place.

We're not ready to consult an architect yet, but we do want to dream a bit and get some ideas. If anyone has pointers to nicely done ranch additions, or even ones that didn't turn out so well, please post them here.

We looked at some idea books but it seems like ranch houses are the ugly stepchild. They all start out with romantic farmhouses, huge barns, classic colonials, ultramodern... but hardly ever a ranch.


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We added 600 square feet to our 1100 sf rancher. We added a large bedroom, small hobby room/office, a half bath (toilet & pedestal sink) and an upstairs family room. I've uploaded a photo showing the house before and after.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our addition

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 12:37PM
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This is very interesting to me because we, too, have a small ranch house (for lack of any other style, that's what I call it) with a low-pitched roof and only 1085 square feet of space. I'd like to add a laundry room and expand the living room a bit. and I'd love a front porch, the real deal with railings and plenty of space. but I'm not sure how that would look on my plain jane house. so, if anyone else wants to post pics and provide ideas, there are two people on this post who are eager to see!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 1:17PM
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We almost remodeled a 1950s ranch. Thank goodness we took the advice of our next door neightor, a real estate appraiser, and tore it down. This was also the advice of every GC we consulted. There was nothing structurally wrong with the ranch, but everything about it was dated, including of course the lack of insulation, size of rooms and baths, the mechanicals, you name it.

Think a lot about what value your remodeled house will have as opposed to if you were to move or tear down and build new. Think about living for over a year in a construction zone.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 6:26PM
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Obviously you want to consider all the options before plunking down a huge sum of money for anything, whether it be an addition or a teardown/rebuild job.

For us-- we like our ranch. It has a solid foundation, nice brick exterior, and we've renovated most of the main floor and walkout basement already. It's nothing high end, but nice. Mechanicals are mostly good, granted insulation is a weak spot.

In this area new home construction costs upwards of $150 per square foot. Add to that the cost to tear down and it would be $250k _minimum_ to build the same size house we have now. I think a second story addition would cost around $150k, maybe less if we do some of the interior finish work.

We haven't looked at real numbers for what we want... we don't even know what we want yet. We're mainly looking for ideas if we decide to go the addition route. But your point is well taken.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 8:08PM
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Up here in Seattle, ranch houses are called ramblers -- but they're essentially the same thing.

I bought a mid-century brick rambler in 2004 and had it extensively renovated and added a partial secnd story in 2005 before moving in. I worked with a local architect and stressed that I wanted an addition that would maintain the architectural integrity of the original structure, but that would also be as unobtrusive from the street as possible. Since my house was "L" shaped, we elected to put the addition at the back of the house, as far from the street as possible.

My architect recommended against using brick siding on the second story addition because it would be less expensive, but also to reduce the visual impact and weightiness of the second floor. the roofline of the original first floor was extended below the addition to provide a transition between the brick on the ground floor and the shingled siding on the second story addition. It worked out rahter well.

Before - The front of the house.

After - The front of the house. You can just see the roof of the second story addition in the left rear. We also expanded the garage.

Before - The back of the house. Unfortunately, the old apple tree blocks some of the view.

After - The back of the house. The extended roof line under the addition was added to provide a transition between the brick and shingled siding. The shingled low walls surrounding the deck repeat the shingled look of the upper floor addition.

My advice to you would be to work with a good architect. Tell him or her that one of your top priorities is to avoid "the dropped in place" look. Any architect worth his salt will be able to achieve that goal while giving you the additional space and functionality that you want.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 2:44PM
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jamesk was able to achieve that "tastefully done" addition, but it isn't the full second story the OP asked about. The "tasteful" is probably one of the hardest parts of these renovations. I've seen remodleing ads where the "Before" sure looks better to me than the "After".

Old ranches generally have small rooms and 8-foot ceilings. The kitchens and baths are small by today's standards. One of the reasons we ended up building was because we already lived in one of those and wanted something more "today". (The ranch we eventually tore down at least had large rooms and potential for larger baths.)

Neighbors near our old home did a huge remodel about ten years ago, nearly doubling the size of their house. Now it is the largest house in the neighborhood (never a good thing). The new part is lovely, but it makes the old part look...old. This now-5-BR house still has public rooms sized for a 3 BR house -- even smaller than they were because room had to be found for stairs. It's been on the market for two years. Buyers will not pay for this house what they will pay for an all-of-one-piece house that takes advantage of modern building materials. The owners cannot recoup what they spent.

If you have a historic home, or one of those strange CA-like tax benefits, I can understand undertaking a huge remodel. (I think CA must have some mighty strange houses, many with "unique" DIY work in them, all these years after Prop 13.)

I don't mean to be a nay-sayer, just would like people to look carefully at what the end product will be before they embark on huge remodeling jobs. Many posters have greatly underestimated the costs vs. the resultant worth.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Adding a complete second story to an existing home will totally disrupt your life and cost you more than would either buying an existing home or doing a teardown and rebuild on the existing home. If new construction costs $150 per square foot in your area, you can bet that renovation costs are at least $300- $450 per square foot for what you're proposing. Remodeling is always more expensive than is new construction. You have to deal with tying the old to the new, completely reeingineering the Foundation, framing, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems without drastically altering the existing configuration and try to do it all without actually moving out. Extensively renovated homes never recoup the expensed put into them either, unless a significant portion of it is able to be DIYed. And, time spent on DIYing is time away from your family, job, and real life. It isn't "cost free" to DIY. It's just a different expense. Unless you plan on staying in this house for the next 30 years and don't care what money you spend on it, or code restrictions prohibit a teardown, you'd be better off selling and moving to a home that exists as you need it to be. Or, spend the money for a teardown.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 6:21PM
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I'm afraid I have to disagree. Tearing down perfectly good houses just because it's expedient seems terribly wasteful to me. Not only are most older houses built more solidly than a lot of the flimsy houses that get thrown up nowadays, they often include nicer detailing and better finish than common building techniques allow on more recent construction. Let's also not forget, that if you tear down a house, most of it will end up in a land-fill.

The original poster says that they like their exisiting house. It's solidly built, is attractive, and that they've already invested in renovations that suit them. Why would they want to move?

Ranch houses don't always have small rooms and low ceilings. Even when they do, sometimes just tweaking the floor plan a little bit, enlarging windows, or other relatively simple solutions can make a huge difference.

Personally, I'd much rather live in a nice older house than one of the huge boxy things springing up on small surburban lots everywhere across the country. Older houses may not have two story atriums, "spa" bathrooms, or twelve foot islands in the kitchen, but they had good proportions, room for a spacious garden, were built solidly, and had a grace that few "today" houses posess.

As for some of the other generalizations made above, foundation reengineering most likely wouldn't be necessary. Brick veneer houses already have much thicker foundations than most other types of houses. The foundations have to be built thicker to support the weight of the brick veneer. Framing may or may not be an issue. Many houses built mid-twentieth century were framed using much sturdier timbers than are used in construction today. HVAC, electrical and plumbing aren't particularly onerous. These sorts of things are routinely improved and reconfigured in exisiting structures all the time.

That being said, I don't recommend that anyone live in a house while major remodeling is going on -- but many people do -- and survive to tell about it. If budgets are tight, it can save a lot of money. If you tear down your existing home, obviously, the possiblity of realizing that savings doesn't exist.

The idea that extensively renovated houses never recoup the expense put into them is just nonsense. I know of an awful lot of people who make their livings by buying up older houses, extensively (and in some cases expensively) renovating, then selling at a profit. Naturally, it depends on location and not getting carried away so that you over-improve for a particular neighbourhood or existing market conditions -- but good houses with fine details, in good neighbourhoods will always command top dollar.

My advice is still to consult with an architect. An architect will be able to tell you what's possible or isn't possible. He may even be able to suggest solutions to your needs that will save you money. It may not be necessary to add a full second floor. A partial second floor and a small bump-out somewhere on the existing house may be all you need. A few hours spent with a good architect may yield surprising results. If you like your house, tearing it down is probably the last thing you want to do.

1 Like    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 9:02PM
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The big "if" is whether the house in question actually is "superior" construction, with any "fine" details.

Both our prior home and the teardown were spec homes. Neither were "perfectly fine homes". I can't tell you how much nicer it feels to live in our all-new, tightly constructed, well-HVAC'd home with 9-foot ceilings.

I doubt the OP will find it an economic advantage to add a second story instead of moving or building new. (Especially if they have to live in the house while doing this.) People who do this for a living have a better handle on costs and potential returns. Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner are going to be undertaking a very big project. They need to know the costs and potential value all their work will achieve.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 12:27PM
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I guess I am not seeing why a second story addition would have to look bad. If you removed the existing roof and trusses, and built up, you could achieve any look you would want I would think. If you matched or resided so all siding was consistent and seamless, there would be no way to even know a remodel was done from the exterior. At any rate, go to http://images.google.com/images?q=ranch+second+story&domains=YOUR+DOMAIN+NAME&sitesearch=&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi
for pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 1:09PM
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You might check out what these folks did, as they kept a blog about the process. If the link doesn't work, you can google "raise the ranch" and come up with their website.

Here is a link that might be useful: Raise the Ranch

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 4:34PM
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Our 1957 california ranch style with vaulted ceilings was 1800 ft. We tore down 1/2 and added a second story on one side for 3500 ft., plus 800 ft. of wrap-around deck since we have a view. We went with one of the best regional arch. firms who specialize in modern. Lots of glass with anodized aluminum frames. It will be an mushroom & olive ultramodern house with metal roof when done. However, it is a very, very messy and expensive process to keep some of the old and add new. If we knew then what we know now the whole thing would have been torn down. It would have been a lot faster and less expensive.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:58PM
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ron -- What did it cost beyond what you thought it would cost (percentages). You are an honest person to admit a teardown would have been the better option. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Here's a Pic of an addition with new siding.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2nd Story Added

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 9:36AM
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I came across this. Its the best I've ever seen.

Here is a link that might be useful: before and after brick ranch

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 7:44PM
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