Planning a Second Story
Planning is the key when taking on a project
that involves removing
Before planning a second story
addition, research what obstacles will need
be addressed. Examples of items that need to be
-Size of ceiling joists, can they
support a 2nd story floor?
-Are mechanicals run over the top of
existing ceiling joists?
(plumbing, electRic, HVAC)
-How much overhang is on existing roof
and are there any
utilities fastened to it.
-Is the existing roof stick
built(built on site) or a truss
-Is the roof sheathing 1x boards or
-How many layers of shingles are
-Are there any Stacks or flues
protruding through the roof
such as a fireplace chimney, furnace
flue, or vent pipe.
These things need to be considered so the
addition can be built as
quickly as possible.
When starting the tearoff, the first thing
that needs to be addressed
is the soffit. Removing this first will free up
the rafter ends when
it comes time to remove them. Sometimes
utilities like the phone and
electrical lines are attached to the soffit.
These should be moved by
their respective utility company.
Now you can tearoff the roof. The easiest
way to remove the shingles
and sheathing is with a circular saw. It's best
to use an old blade
with a lesser amount off teeth because it will
be trash when you are
When cutting the roof away, start at the
ridgeboard and run the saw
between the rafters all the way to the rafter
tails. Repeat this cut
every 32" from one end of the roof to the
other. These pieces,
assuming they are plywood, can be removed in
32"x 48" squares. There
will still be some weight to these pieces but
this will make them
more managable. Working from the ridge, these
squares are loosened
with a sledgehammer. Once there is enough room,
you can use a prybar
to free them from the rafters. My favorite
technique is to use a 6
to 8 foot 2x4. Slip it under the loosened piece
and use an adjacent
rafter as a fulcrum. Push down on the 2x4 and
up comes the plywood
and shingles. This same procedure works with
If the roof sheathing is planks, the cuts
should be made 48" to 64"
apart. If there are 2 or mre layers of
shingles, you should be able
to roll these sections down the rafters.
Once the roof sheathing is removed, the rest
of the components can
be removed. If the soffit and fascia haven't
been removed yet, this
is another opportunity to do so. Once that is
gone the rafters can
be removed. The rafters can be detached from
the ridgeboard by using
a sledgehammer or a sawzall. After they are
loose from the ridge,
they can be twisted off the top plate.
Trusses can be a little trickier. After the
sheathing is removed,
most of the truss work will have to be cut out.
The only part left
would be the bottom cord that holds up the
drywall ceiling. Since
most of these cords are 2x4's, larger 2x lumber
will have to be
sistered alongside for added support. As long
as there are bearing
walls below, this 2x lumber could be 2x10's,
2x12's or engineered
lumber such as I-joists. Each situation is
different and what is used
is spect by an engineer or architect.
In most cases, the electric (conduit),
plumbing and/or HVAC run over
the top of the ceiling joists. Usually, the
easiest way to deal with
this, is to build a knee wall high enough for
the new floor joists
to clear these obstructions. This makes the
second floor deck higher
so it will make your stair run longer. Making
sure you have room for
the stairs in this instance is another
Once the deck is down, the walls, ceiling
joists, and roof of your
new addition can follow.
Whatever situation might you have, good
planning will make remodeling
easier and quicker. Time is of the essence when
it comes to removing
a roof. You want to protect the existing
structure and all of your
valuable possesions that are left inside.
About the Author: Mike Merisko has been a
carpenter for 26 years. Most
of those years were spent in the homebuilding
and remodeling industries.
He was also in business as a carpentry and
general contractor. While
that is his forte, he also has experience in
bridge building, commercial construction, and
exhibit building which is how he earns his
living these days.