Ranch vs. Cape when going UP!

Advantages & Disadvantages

What are the advantages / disadvantages of owning a ranch opposed to a cape when converting into a Second Level Addition?

1. Cape advantages

  • Cape already has a set of stair leading to Second Level.

  • Existing 1st floor ceiling joist or 2nd floor (floor) joist is usually adequate, not necessarily required to re-structure.

  • Pitch of a cape roof is steeper, thus having a higher ridge point (usually 10' above attic floor); you have option of just raising rear roof and building a standard 8' high wall. This is called a" Full Rear Dormer” with existing front roof being untouched. You could install a couple of front “Dog House Dormers ". Usually a total of 2 (1 for each existing bedroom) between 4' 0 " to 5' 0" wide incorporating a window for natural light and ventilation.

  • Less expensive then converting a Ranch, no 1st floor Remodeling required.

  • Cape attics are finished thus present heating & electrical runs may be reused. The same for water lines and waste pipes if there is presently a bathroom.

2. Cape disadvantages

  • Square footage of cape is around 768 (32’ x 24’) about 60 % the size of ranch. However this may be an advantage of not having to spend as much money on square footage you don't need.

3. Ranch advantages

  • Since square footage is greater than cape you have benefit of creating additional / larger rooms. However this may be a disadvantage because you may be spending money on square footage you don't need. The remedy is to construct a Split Level Style Ranch House instead of a Colonial Style House. A Split Level is raising between 50 % to 75 % the length of present ranch house instead of 100%.

  • Since a new structural floor system is required, make the most of it by being able to cantilever the floor joist beyond the foot print of existing lower level (option of creating additional square footage if needed). This could be done in the front of house as well as rear of house.

4. Ranch disadvantages

  • The expense of creating a set of stairs to Second Story Addition. Hopefully you could locate new stairs directly above basement stairs and minimize losing existing 1st floor living space.

  • The Remodeling cost of creating an entire new structurally floor system since present is inadequate.

  • The Remodeling cost of repairing present drywall ceilings on 1st floor due to disturbance when installing new framing.

  • Pitch of a ranch roof is not as steep as cape roof, thus having a lower ridge point (usually 5' 0"above attic floor); you don't have option of just raising rear roof to create only a rear dormer. However a solution would be to leave entire front roof untouched and remove entire rear roof. Then build a 5' 0" high wall on top of the entire present ridge with a couple windows. You’re creating an overall height of 10' 0” above attic floor (5’ 0" + 5' 0”). New style roof would be a shed type , high point resting on this new 5' 0" high wall and slightly pitching toward rear on newly installed 8' 0" high exterior wall resting on attic floor. . However this house style presents little curb appeal. Another possibility is replacing the wall on ridge idea with extending existing front rafters idea. At least 4' 0" in length (purpose, to raise ridge height). The style of roof would also be a shed type.

  • More expensive then Converting Cape. (Need to create stairs and re-structure floor system).

  • If ranch presently has air condition equipment & duct work in attic, this would have to be moved.
Toll Free 1-866-393-9673
Fax: 203-393-9674
© 2014 Arnone Building and Remodeling Inc.