Watch this video to follow the construction of a family room addition from start to finish, including:
- Foundation work
- Wall and roof framing
- Framing reinforcement to prevent wind damage
- Adding a porch and deck
- Installing metal roofing
- Adding a ventless gas fireplace
- Grading around a foundation for proper drainage
Read the episode article to find out more.
Danny Lipford: This week Today’s Homeowner is on the hunt for more room, as we complete an addition that was started 25 years ago. We’ll find out what the holdup was, and show you how to bring a great family room addition to completion.
But only if you stick around.
Many homes have a concrete slab, just like this one, to serve as an outdoor living area. You have your table, your chairs your grill — pretty much all you need. But this slab was actually poured 25 years ago to serve as the foundation for a new addition, to provide a little extra living space for this family.
Now, I know what you are asking yourself: what happened to the addition?
Norman Hunt: Well, what happened was, we realized how much it was — you know the expense of raising children, and we decided to postpone it. And it seems like every time that we had the opportunity to do something with it, something else came up.
When I retired we said, “Why don’t we see about adding the room on.” I think the main thing is my wife’s got to get a room that she always wanted back, which was the living room. And what I’m looking forward to is being in an area where I’m sort of away from her.
Danny Lipford: Now that Norman and his family have decided to move forward with building the addition, you would think we’d be ahead of the game, already having the concrete slab in place. But codes change over the years, particularly 25 years, and the existing foundation will just not be sufficient for the new family room they want.
Now you can see how we’ve dug up under the existing foundation, and you would think with this much concrete we would be fine, but today’s standards require even more concrete than that to support the structure, so we’re going to have to deal with that pretty soon.
But in addition to the nice family room, they will also have a very nice deck that will kind of surround this part of the addition and up to these stakes, it will be covered with a roof extension and this part will be right out in the sun. But the main thing that we’ve got to deal with right now is this foundation issue.
After a lot of thought and planning, we decided to create a new foundation for the addition around the existing slab. This way, we won’t have to spend time or money to break up the old concrete, because we’re digging new footings around it that will be adequate to support the weight of the addition.
The new forms around the old slab represent the outer edges of the addition. So we are basically adding about a foot all the way around the perimeter of it.
Now, using a pumper truck outfitted with lots of hoses not only makes it easier to get the concrete around behind the house, but it also makes it easier to control its flow as it goes into the narrow forms. As the weight of the concrete pushes on the forms, they occasionally have to be reinforced to keep the outer edges from bowing out.
While laying out the new foundation, we also discovered that the old slab wasn’t completely flat or level. So, the guys are skimming over parts of it with additional concrete to get it up to par.
As soon as the concrete is dry, the framing of the new addition can begin. The wall locations are laid out on the slab with pressure-treated 2-by-6 plates, and then the rest of the walls are nailed together on the ground before they are lifted into place on top of the plates.
The carpenters are at a point on this addition where they’ll very soon be tying in the roof structure into the existing house. Hey, the addition framing is going fairly well, but it has been slowed down considerably by the amount of bolting and strapping that’s required because of some of the new codes.
Mark Bufkin’s been with me a long time; built a lot of additions. But Mark, I bet you’ve never seen anything like what we’re having to do with this addition?
Mark Bufkin: No, it’s getting ridiculous. And it’s straps everywhere — straps on every stud, top, bottom 10 nails to the strap you got all these big brackets put in strategic spots for maximum uplift. You have to countersink to get in, just before I can frame my windows.
Danny Lipford: Now I noticed on the doors over there you had actually recessed all of those bolts, which are pretty sizable bolts. This is like cabinetwork almost with this kind of work.
Mark Bufkin: Yes, you have to be thinking, if we had just put them in there, and then when we went to set our doors and the doors would hit the bolts, and it would’ve been a bad deal.
Danny Lipford: One of the reasons that the codes are so strict in this area is we are in a hurricane zone; we’re in the northern part of the Gulf Coast, but we’re still 30 miles away from the water. It’s surprising that it’s still in a hurricane zone and is requiring this kind of work. The 2-by-6’s are something the homeowners really requested, right?
Mark Bufkin: Yes, that was just for insulation value, no strength whatsoever, just for more insulation.
Danny Lipford: Well, it’s getting pretty complicated to frame an addition these days, but let’s take on something a little more simple with Joe’s Simple Solution of the week.
Joe Truini: In order for rain gutters to work properly they can’t be plugged up with pine needles and leaves. Now, it’s easy enough to clean up the gutter itself but the problem often occurs here where the downspout joins the gutter and you have these two elbows, which are two perfect places for clogs to occur. Here is a quick way to clean them out.
Get a plumber snake; this is just a really flexible steel cable wound up inside this housing and there’s a crank on the back. Just pull out maybe a foot or two of the cable and jam it down inside the downspout, and then just turn the crank. What’s happening is the cable will spin around inside and clear out the debris. Once it spins free, you can force down another couple of feet and repeat the process.
Now, here you see in just a couple of seconds I’ve put in about two feet, a little over two feet of cable. Once you have that area cleaned out, you can just get a garden hose, jam it in there, and rinse it out to flush out any remaining debris.
Danny Lipford: Boy, this kind of situation I miss a lot, since I’m not nailing nails much anymore these days, and that’s a nice cool morning plenty of lumber and an addition ready for the roof to be tied into the existing house, an extremely important part of building any addition.
This project actually started 25 years ago when Norman, the homeowner, had someone pour a small slab to build a little family room. Well, things changed over the years for Norman and he decided to wait a while. Years went by, so now we’re finally getting around to building that family room for him.
Now, of course, the codes have changed a lot over those 25 years, and it required us to do a lot of foundation work. A lot more bolting and strapping and different ways of building this addition, which certainly added to the time it’s taking to build it, as well as the cost.
But right now, we’re ready to tie in that roof. The walls are already connected to the house but in order to keep them from flexing back and forth, Mark and his crew are attaching the ceiling joist for that bridge from one side of the addition to the other.
The plywood sheathing for the walls is added next to help prevent them from shifting out of square as the weight on top of them really starts to add up. Those building codes even play a part here, specifying how many nails should be used along each foot of sheathing.
Fortunately, the nail gun speeds this up and after the sheathing is in place and the window openings are cut out, the work on the roof rafters can finally begin.
The rafters rest on the outer walls of the addition and tie into a central 2-by-8 ridge. Because of the length of the addition, the ridge will have to be spliced to make it the last few feet to the roofline of the existing house. The ridge is extended and the valley lines are established with more two by eights.
Now it’s simply a matter of filling in the remaining rafters. But the cuts for these things are anything but simple because of all of the compound angles. Again, there are more straps to satisfy the building code, this time tying the rafters to the walls below.
Now that the skeleton is complete, it’s time for some skin with the addition of the plywood decking. But this stuff does more than just keep out the rain. These 4-by-8 sheets tie the roof, giving the whole structure lateral strength and stiffness.
Finally, we are ready to tie this thing in with a layer of roof wrap over the top of the whole addition.
Allen Lyle: I thought I would point out something interesting here on the roof. Our old metal roofing was installed directly to the shingles of the previous roof which is a little odd but it’s alright; we’ll tie it in this very same way.
As we move to the new section, though, we’ve got a really nice high-performance roof wrap. You can see very durable, not quite like roofing felt in that it will really withstand the high winds. So combine this with your metal roofing, it will look great.
Now, our roofers are in the midst of putting in a new roof right now. As it ties in, there will be a slight color difference, but not too bad. I’m going to let them work; in fact, I’m going to go downstairs and watch it.
One of the great things about this kind of metal roofing is how quickly it goes up. These 4-foot-wide panels are precut to the length of each plane of the roof, so these guys just have to line them up and screw them in place. That’s one of the other advantages: the screws. Obviously they are much harder to pull out of the decking than a nail would be.
Now, combine the screws and the single continuous piece for each surface with the fact that this metal is far more rigid than an asphalt shingle — you’ll begin to see why this is a popular roof for areas prone to high winds. In addition to all of that, it should have double or triple the life expectancy of a shingled roof.
While the roofing is happening outside, inside it’s all about electricians. Now that we finally have all of the framing complete, and the truckload of bolts and nuts and straps we had to install on all of these walls.
But inside, the electricians are taking care of all of the outlets and switches and, installing a series of these very popular recessed lights. Now the recessed housings will be distributed around the room to provide nice even lighting.
You can also see our fireplace is ready to go in. It will be slipped right into this area, all secured off. Then, we’re ready for our building inspector to come out and to allow us to cover up the walls.
At that point, we’ll concentrate on making this room as energy efficient as possible by filling in all of the voids with fiberglass here in the walls as well as plenty of installation overhead. It will actually make this room a lot more energy efficient than the original house.
Now, the ceiling here is 8 feet tall and the homeowners decided to stay with a flat ceiling, but out on the covered deck here it’s a different story. This vaults up to about 11 feet and this is a real smart way of doing an exterior porch like this, because during those hot summer days it will be a lot cooler because all of that heat is rising up to the top.
Allen, how about the roofing here? How’s everything going?
Allen Lyle: They are making some good time. They’ve got this slope completed already. They’ve got the valley metal in place, they’ll be tying into the old roof soon.
Danny Lipford: That’s got to be tricky when you have a corrugated metal tying into a valley like that.
Allen Lyle: It is, but you know what, they actually do something smart. They are putting some of the older roofing back on that slope there to really tie in the color right.
Danny Lipford: That makes sense. Looks like the outside is ready for the bricks; I guess that will happen here pretty soon.
Allen Lyle: Pretty soon.
Danny Lipford: Okay, well, we’ll keep going on this, and it’s really going well but right now, let’s check out our Best New Product of the week.
Jodi Marks: There are a lot of things that you can add to your home to give it that curb appeal and you can spend a lot of money doing that. One of the best things you can do is to keep your yard looking great. That can be done for just a little bit of cash and maybe a little bit more effort.
Of course, that means more than just mowing the grass. You need to give your yard that extra manicured look with a string trimmer. And, since this is our showcase for Best New Products, let’s look at the latest from Ryobi. I love this trimmer.
This is their new TouchStart gas trimmer and it’s the first electric start gas trimmer on the market. I’m not really sure why no one has thought of this one before, but I think it’s a great feature. Just think about it, no more yanking on a pull rope which makes operating it a breeze.
It also has the other standard features like the telescoping shaft, a shoulder strap, and two string heads, and a two-year warranty. Because it uses a low-emission engine it’s also environmentally friendly. As far as the price goes, it’s about the middle of the road at around 170 bucks, but I think it’s well worth it.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re completing an addition that is long overdue. It has been postponed for 25 years. With the foundation work, framing, and roofing done, the next big step to completing the exterior is the brickwork, which dominates the outside of the job for a couple of days.
We are making progress on the inside, too. The drywall has been hung and the finishing process is well underway. It’s looking more like a room and less like the patio it’s been for the last 25 years.
Allen Lyle: Well, I can already tell this room is going to get a lot of use. The focal point is this fireplace that was installed just a few days before the drywall went in place. And what Norman chose is a nice ventless model. You know in a spacious room like this, especially one that opens up into another area of the house, this is a great source of supplemental heat.
One of the biggest advantages though, of a ventless fireplace is the fact that it’s going to save Norman the cost of having a chimney and flue installed. And believe me that can be a substantial amount of money.
Now, of course, with anything that has advantages, you typically will have some disadvantages. No fire is truly ventless. If it were, it would put itself out. The oxygen that this needs for combustion is drawn in from the room, and it will vent into the room.
This has raised a few concerns about carbon monoxide buildup and oxygen depletion. In fact, there are some states like California and Massachusetts that won’t even let you put in a ventless fireplace. One other slight disadvantage is that using a ventless means that there’s going to be more humidity in a room. So if you have a smaller room that’s a little bit enclosed, this is probably not your best option.
But before you make any decisions, here is your free, friendly fireplace advice for the week. First of all, find out what your building codes are when it pertains to a fireplace. Then, carefully weigh the pros and the cons and decide which type of fireplace is best for your needs. And then, ventless or otherwise, install a carbon monoxide detector in the same room.
Now, if you want a real shock, Danny is right outside, and I think he’s actually working.
Danny Lipford: Now, I’m not sure how I ended up on this end of the shovel out here, but I’m helping Mike and Mark lower this grade a bit where we had a lot of dirt piled up from digging up the foundation.
The reason this is important, we want to slope all of the dirt away from the house. And, even though this is a covered area, it is still very important because inevitably, a little rain is going to blow in here but it’s more important that the dirt slopes away from the foundation of your home when you have an open area like this.
Later on, the homeowners plan on putting a little guttering in here, which will certainly help to catch some of the water but you’re going to get some water in this area and what you don’t want is for it to pile up against the foundation and it kind of pool there. That will cause the foundation to drop sooner or later. That can cause a lot of settling problems inside.
Now, if you have an existing situation where you have flower beds around your house, and it’s damming up the water and causing it to pool against the foundation, you need to do something about that right away, so that the water all the way around your house moves away from the foundation.
Hey, I’m going to help the guys finish up back here, then they can get started on the new deck. We have to move several more wheelbarrows full of dirt before the grade is low enough for Mark and Mike to continue framing the deck.
It’s not uncommon for the occasional board to be slightly wider than the rest so sometimes a little notching is in order to ensure a clean fit.
When the framing is all done, the deck boards start going down to fill in the outdoor living space. It was important to get the decking down early, so the guys would have a platform to work on when they start finishing the porch ceiling.
Half-inch plywood goes up first to lend structural strength. Then, we add some quarter-inch beadboard paneling, to give the ceiling a little more of a finished look.
By running the sheets this way, each one will stretch from the house wall to the edge of the porch so there are no end seems in the beadboard pattern. The vinyl fascia and soffit finish up the exterior of the addition, while the railings in lattice complete the deck.
Inside, we are ready for flooring and this glue-down hardwood is the perfect fit, especially since it matches the flooring in the adjacent room. While these guys are busy wrapping up all the inside details, let’s check out this week’s Thinking Green tip.
Have you ever considered how many uses there are for aluminum foil? It’s perfect for baked potatoes, chewing gum and a piece of chocolate. And it makes a pretty good substitute for gift wrap. I even found a website that shows you how to make a deflector beanie to combat mind control. Hey, it takes all kinds doesn’t it? I even still see houses where people are using aluminum foil in their windows to reflect the heat.
Well, instead of aluminum foil, take a look at some of the new types of window film. Almost all brands of window film today will block out 99% of the UV rays, which means you don’t have to worry about your furniture or your flooring fading. Plus, you can reflect the solar heat and still enjoy the view. And by reducing the heat gain, your air-conditioning system will work a lot less to keep your home nice and comfortable.
The addition we’re working on this week started 25 years ago with a slab foundation that was only used as a patio, until recently. But now the addition is finished and so is the new outdoor living space. This deck covers 450 square feet with 175 feet of that undercover. So the Hunts have plenty of outdoor entertaining space, whatever the weather.
Inside, the 365-square-foot addition is one big open room, with tons of natural light with the windows on two walls and plenty of warmth from the fireplace on the other. You know, we talk all the time about how important careful planning is to a successful home improvement project. Most of the time homeowners get so excited about the project they don’t slow down enough to make all of those decisions.
Well, in this case, the Hunts have had over two decades to figure out exactly what they wanted in their family room. They knew they wanted a fireplace with a remote control of course. They knew they wanted a high-def television on this side of the room, with all the components and the built-in speakers for that nice even sound around the room. But more importantly, they wanted a nice comfortable family room. Well, they got that.
I hope you enjoyed seeing this one come together, and I hope we’ll see you next week, here on Today’s Homeowner. Next week we’re doing our part to make sure you’re safe at home.