If the attic space is large and the roof is not constructed with roof trusses,
often only minor framing work is required to create a useable bedroom space. On
the contrary, building a bedroom addition onto your existing home requires an
extensive amount of planning and design, as you are literally building a small
home, if you will, onto the side of your home. Extra care has to be taken into
how the bedroom melds into the existing homeís exterior. In addition, there are
demolishion costs with building a bedroom addition that also add to the overall
cost of the project. So if your home has a large attic and you need an
additional bedroom you canít go wrong by choosing an attic bedroom conversion
for gaining the extra bedroom.
An attic bedroom conversion, however, does present its own set of unique
challenges. For example, if the roof has a shallow pitch and there is limited
ingress and egress into the attic then the attic may not be well suited for
creating a bedroom in it. Also, an atticís floor joists are often not large
enough for supporting a finished living space. As a result, larger lumber may
need to be sistered to the existing lumber. For example, nailing 2x8s to the
existing attic 2x6 floor joists.
Most attics donít have windows in them.
So you may
also need to figure out a solution for adding windows in the bedroom attic.
Skylights are a fairly inexpensive alternative. Also, you can consider adding a
dormer off the roof line where the attic bedroom will be located. The dormer can
include windows to help bring in natural light into the room.
If you are seriously thinking about an attic bedroom conversion visit your local
building inspector and an architect to see what your viable options are for
Photo by Mark Donovan
example, the roof is constructed out of roof trusses you may not be allowed to
finish the attic. Roof trusses are carefully designed to support the roof and
each truss member plays a critical role in the roof trussesí structural
integrity. Thus, cutting roof truss members is typically not allowed. Unless,
however, an architect can develop a modified truss design to maintain the
structural integrity of the roof.
Access to an Attic Bedroom
Attic bedroom ingress and egress are imperative for functional and safety
reasons. An attic ladder is not a viable or legal solution for ingress/egress to
an attic bedroom. Consequently your attic bedroom conversion will need access
via a standard staircase. Creating the staircase, if it does not already exist,
can consume a sizeable amount of the lower levelís living space. In addition,
the placement of attic staircase needs to be such that there is full headroom as
one enters into the attic via the staircase.
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Photo by Mark Donovan
Most attic bedrooms will need knee walls constructed that tie in the roof line
to the attic floor. Typically knee walls are three to four feet high and help to
define the attic bedroom space.
Strengthening Attic Floor Joists
Again, most likely the attic floor joists are inadequate for supporting the
weight of a finished room. Thus, larger (taller) attic floor joists will need to
be sistered, or attached, to the existing ones.
subfloor sheathing can be attached to the taller floor joists. If you donít
sister in the larger floor joists, the lower level finished drywall ceiling will
most likely experience cracks in it in short order due to the deflection in the
Inclusion of Natural Light
Attics are typically void of natural light. Consequently your attic conversion
bedroom plans should include the installation of skylights and/or windows to
bring in the natural light. Windows also allow for airflow into the attic.
Consider adding windows on the gable end of the attic roof area, or include a
dog or shed dormer in the attic bedroom area with windows. Dormers also enable
additional full height headroom in the attic bedroom.
Heating and Cooling an Attic Bedroom
Attic spaces can be extremely warm during the summer months, and cold during the
winter ones. Consequently copious amounts of insulation are imperative when
building a bedroom in an attic. In addition, the inclusion of air conditioning
and heat into the space are also vital. Tying an attic bedroom into a homeís
existing HVAC system is often difficult. As a result, look for HVAC solutions
that can be dedicated to heating and cooling the attic bedroom separately. Talk
with an HVAC professional to determine what the best solution is for your
Incorporation of Bathroom in Attic
Including a bathroom in an attic has its own set of unique challenges. For
example, where to locate the plumbing supply and drain lines. Installing drain
lines in an attic can be the most challenging since there is limited height in
the attic floor. Drain lines need to be pitched to ensure waste water can drain
downwards and into the septic tank system or sewer. Ensuring the proper drain
pitch can be tough with limited vertical height in the attic floor.
Photo by Mark Donovan
addition, routing the plumbing drain lines and supply lines through the attic
floor joists can be difficult as it requires cutting the joists. In some cases,
an attic bathroom may need to be elevated in the attic to obtain enough space to
route the plumbing drain lines.
Then there is also the issue with the additional weight of a full bathtub in an
attic. Again, the attic floor joists will need to be sized properly to support
the weight of a tub full of water and a person.
Attic Bedroom Safety
Attic bedrooms are high up and may have only one main ingress/egress method,
e.g. staircase. Consequently, for safety purposes a window ladder may need to be
included in the attic bedroom conversion plans to enable occupants of the
bedroom to be able to exit it in the event of a fire.
It is also vital to make sure smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors are
included in the attic bedroom. If a bathroom is included, a GFCI breaker will
need to be installed in it to prevent life threatening electrical shock.
An attic bedroom conversion is an ideal solution for creating an additional
bedroom in your home, if the attic conditions are appropriate for it. Make sure
to check first with an architect and your local building inspector before
starting this type of project to see if your attic is suitable for a bedroom
conversion. If it is, come up with a well thought out set of plans and get them
approved with the building inspector before starting the construction. Also make
sure to pull the required permits. With proper upfront planning and a solid set
of attic bedroom conversion blueprints, you should be able to achieve the
bedroom space you are looking for at a very reasonable price.
For help on Attic Conversion and Attic
Remodeling Projects, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's
Attic Conversion Bid sheet. The
Attic Conversion Bid sheet will help
to ensure that you hire the right contractor so that your attic conversion
project is built
correctly, on time and budget.
Related Attic Information