Adding a garage & 2nd level to make a split level house


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Home Designer Pro 2021

Based in Ontario, Canada (EDT)


We have an existing single-story home with a basement and we are adding an attached garage with living space above.


The garage will be added mid-height between the existing basement and the existing main floor, creating a side-split house. 


1. Problem: The Wall

The wall for the second level is complicated because it will share the lower part of the wall with the upper part of the adjacent main floor wall (both sides of wall are interior) then it will go into the attic space above the original building (one side interior, the other in the attic), then it will come out of the roof and be a "standard" exterior wall. So three wall types for one wall. This part of the wall is 2x6 studs. Below the second level floor is 2x4 studs (original exterior wall).


Any idea how to make the show properly? In real life, it will be relatively easy to accomplish. In Home Designer, not so easy. Right now in the rooms with this wall, the original wall shows drywall as expected but then the rim board for the 2nd floor and the sheathing for the stud wall above are shown.


UPDATE: I solved this by dragging the lower portion of the wall that had drywall up to meet the ceiling. Doesn't seem like the right thing to do but it worked and the framing looks ok too.


2. Problem: Stairs up to second level

From the main level we have a split staircase to the basement with a landing partway that has a door out to the garage. This went in with a bit of work but no real problem.


Over the stairs from the landing to the basement we want to have stairs from the main level in the original building to the second level in the addition. This is a problem. I've added a doorway in the wall on the 2nd level but when I create the stairs to go up to it, there are studs in the way. I can't figure out where they are coming from. The original building has 2x4 studs and the addition will have 2x6 studs. So from the basement, the wall is footing, 10" concrete block, knee wall, first floor of the original building, 2x4 studs, 2nd floor of the addition, 2x6 studs.


Also, the stairs come through the roof over the original building. I've drawn a wall on the second floor of the original building in the area where the stairs are located and it will have a roof and the original roof trusses will need to be reframed but getting the roof to draw properly is an issue. We originally tried creating a dormer in the roof of the addition and extending it over the existing lower roof.


UPDATE: I'm going to solve this by manually adding the framing and material required using the handsketches of the details.


Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.







Edited by OscarPiper
update to show how I solved the problem
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Please post images directly -- no need to make a PDF of an image. This makes it easier for others as an image shows in the forum.


Attaching your plan file -- close Pro first, will give someone something to work with.


See below for my Home Designer - Getting Started - Setting Preferences and Defaults video where I suggest you turn off unneeded automatic things like framing.


Split levels are a pain with this software unless they are very, very simple.




Resources for self help:


The built in Help System (always a good place to start)




Home Designer - Getting Started - Setting Preferences and Defaults
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Thanks, Eric. I watched your video about setting preferences. There were a number of tips there that you pointed out that I hadn't found (others I had found).


I'm still learning the software now but I *do* use the available resources as much as possible before asking for help. I'm new to this tool but not to using software in general. So RTFM is second nature to me (I even read EULAs). I've been using the Reference Manual pretty extensively for a lot of it as well as all the other online resources.


The basic answer seems to be that this relatively inexpensive software is great for a lot of things but not really for complex issues. Your answer "Split levels are a pain with this software unless they are very, very simple." sums it up for me. Building this split-level will also be a pain since we're built on granite and will have to remove rock to sink the garage.


We'd already discovered that it is probably easier to design something from scratch rather than using it to make additions or changes to an existing building after first tediously drawing it "as-built"  (which we did, sitting in the building so we could confirm measurements, including going into the attic to measure rafters).


Now that I know this, I will cludge things (manually draw) where I can't make the software draw it as it is. I mostly just need to have it look ok on paper for the permit application. We'll be involved in the actual construction ourselves and my husband is a structural engineer so we will be building it according to our local building code. He's already doing hand-drawings for a lot of the detail work. 

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