As rain poured through the roof of the Bullet family project, Joshua Dean and Ben Strout were bracing themselves for a night of cleanup.
It came as one of many arduous challenges (including a nail gun mishap and a nearly fatal fall) the duo faced while working on this particular second-story home addition 13 years ago.
“We were on the roof at 10:30 at night in 40-degree temperature while it’s pouring down rain, and we’re trying to put a tarp on the house,” recalls Dean. “And even then, we’re squeegeeing water off the hardwoods on the main level. There’s got to be a better way.”
While the Birmingham, Ala.-based duo’s initial runs with second-story additions were less than ideal, they believed the benefits for homeowners were tenfold. An addition could be more economical, green, and easier than moving to a new home or bulldozing an existing home to build new—but only if there were a system better than existing practices. So the stubborn and gritty colleagues decided to make that new system, and AnotherStory launched in 2020.
Dean, owner of design-build remodeling company Precision Homecrafters, says 80% of his work has become AnotherStory additions. He and Strout, who is owner of Strout Architecture and Construction, believe it’s the first construction method of its kind that takes scale and scope into account.
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Traditionally, second-story additions are intense and disrupting projects: for both the builder and the homeowners. The disruption alone could be enough to deter a family from proceeding with an addition, but that’s AnotherStory’s entire selling point: a second story without disruption.
“AnotherStory is based on an approach to design-build that says, ‘Let’s utilize this existing structure. There’s a family who calls this home: let’s transform their lives without completely disrupting it,” says Dean. “Let’s let them realize their future in this home. The way we do that is by building a whole other house on top of their house while they live there.”
Before the project begins, the duo evaluates the property and holds a non-refundable assessment meeting with the owners. In that process, the team assesses the foundation, and property value, and creates conceptual drawings.
The real secret to AnotherStory’s process is its “House Holders” brackets which are post brackets that sit through the roof, with the bottom portion on the first-floor wall. A boot is then placed, similarly to a plumbing vent, explains Strout. The bracket is flashed, and another adjustable component is set on top. After completing the project, the walls are infilled where the brackets are to become a continuous wall. The duo have submitted patent applications for their House Holders. The new roof and framing come before removing the existing roof.
The team constructs the addition without breaking through the existing roof until they are ready to install the second story floor system, and without disturbing the first floor until stair installation.
To promise no disruptions, the team creates an air gap between the floor system and ceiling for zero sound translation.
Strout says it’s commonplace nowadays for Birmingham’s post-WWII ranch homes to be demolished and larger, new homes built on the lot. The addition of a second story could mitigate the number of homes that are destroyed, he notes.
“It’s just a categorical improvement, for not just us, but for the clients and for the infrastructure that we’re saving as well,” says Strout.
While the entire process could take as long as traditional methods, the AnotherStory team says the added benefit comes from the soft costs, such as removing the need for homeowners to move out temporarily and store possessions.
“Yes, it may have the same timeline as a normal project, but it doesn’t have the same inconvenience timeline,” says Strout. “So there is no true comparison in the inconvenience timeline. Yes, we may be up there building for a while on top of your house, but who cares? Because it’s not actually affecting your day-to-day life."