Increasing the height of my house: How do you do it?

  Two experts explain how to gain useful meters by intervening on the height and the slab of a house. Do not stop thinking about how to expand the surface of your home? Do you live in a single-family house, a last floor or a space with high ceilings and have you thought about doing […]


Two experts explain how to gain useful meters by intervening on the height and the slab of a house.

Do not stop thinking about how to expand the surface of your home? Do you live in a single-family house, a last floor or a space with high ceilings and have you thought about doing it by modifying the height but you do not know if it is possible? Although it is a more complex work than the one of gaining habitable square meters extending the house “in width”, taking advantage of a higher height than usual to create an intermediate floor and generate two levels where before there was only one, or even increase the height of the building, can be feasible solutions. Of course, they require careful studies of technical and urban feasibility. Two experts tell us everything there is to know when embarking on a work of this type.

Is it possible to increase the height of a home to gain living space? This question, which undoubtedly many owners have made at some point, involves many technical and administrative issues that should be considered before embarking on works. There are two great possibilities to gain useful meters in a house by raising the height of an existing building: by creating an intermediate floor in an interior space -when the free height allows it- or extending the height of it above the last forged, that is, adding an additional height to the building.

In the first case, it must be verified that the buildability of the plot (the allowed square meters of buildable area) is not exhausted and that the supporting structure of the existing building is viable to support a new slab. In the second case, in addition to the two previous conditions, it would be necessary to verify that it would remain within the limits of the maximum permitted height, in addition to complying with the urban regulations with respect to the composition of the new fa├žade and roof.

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Technical issues

It is clear, from the outset, that it is a complex intervention that requires an exhaustive structural study by an architect to analyse what features the building presents and what type of loads can support, in addition to contrasting them with the municipal regulations to know what kind of actions are possible and which have to be discarded.

Raising a floor involves adding an unforeseen load to an existing building. It is necessary to study in detail the structure of the building and the land on which it sits to find the ideal constructive solution.

Your architect reforms

What is the regulation? If the technical issues are vital, the legal ones are not less so. From an administrative point of view, it has to comply with the current urban regulations. “Building heights are limited by general urban planning plans or by the UN (urban planning standards) in smaller localities. If we comply with the maximum height allowed, it would be necessary to study the current urban regulations in case there was a setback to respect when creating an attic floor or if the maximum height of the cornice would force us to make an inclined roof that would reduce the surface of the new raised floor, for example. Both to expand a building in height and to create an intermediate floor, an urban issue that must be taken into account is the building of the plot, which is often already exhausted.

Although urban regulations may change from one municipality to another, the type of permit necessary to carry out such an intervention is the same in all of them. Whether it is a forged exterior or interior, are works in which the existing structure is touched to have to rely on it to add a new horizontal structure (wrought), so these actions require a greater work license in all rule, it is a work in which it is essential to have a senior technical architect to write the project, process the application for work license and take over the direction of the facultative.

The fees that have to be paid for a larger building permit are between 3.5 and 4% of the total budget of the reform, according to the municipalities, while the architect’s fees are usually between 10 and 15% of it, depending on the size of the work, clarifies emphasising that the larger the space gained, the less percentage it represents. To this should be added that by increasing the area, the notarial deed should be updated with the new dimensions.

How much can it cost? The two experts consulted agreed on ensuring the impossibility of giving a guide price for this type of reform, given the huge number of variables that must be considered in each case. What is clear to both of them is that it is more expensive to increase the height of a building than an internal reform -or even a “wide” extension – since, as the director of Global Projects points out, the necessary technical study it is necessary to add the possibility of having to reinforce the structural system in case it is determined that it is not prepared to bear the necessary load, the cost of the outer envelope, etc.

You have to study in depth what surface you want to earn and, together with an estimate by chapters of the cost of the work and project – information that is part of the feasibility study written by an architect – decide if it is profitable compared to the price per square meter of the area against the price of construction. As in any work, the greater the surface area, the more profitable it is.

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