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Attic Bedroom Conversion

A Large Unused Attic Space maybe Perfect for a Bedroom Addition

By Mark J. Donovan



An attic bedroom conversion project is an economical alternative to building a bedroom addition, or buying a new and larger home. Attics above an attached garage are often used for creating master suite bedrooms, complete with master bath and closets. An attic bedroom remodeling project is also a great solution for dealing with a returning family member, or a parent that is moving into your home.

Unlike a bedroom addition, an attic bedroom conversion project requires no excavation or foundation work.


In addition, typically only minor interior framing is required when undertaking an attic conversion project. A separate bedroom addition on the other hand, requires extensive exterior framing and roofing. Also, a separate bedroom addition requires careful planning on how to tie it into the existing home, and usually there are some demolishion costs involved such as removing house siding.

An attic bedroom remodeling project, however, has its challenges as well. Issues like a shallow roof pitch, limited attic ingress/egress, undersized ceiling joists, and roof trusses can create major challenges in converting an attic into bedroom space. This said many of these issues can be successfully addressed with some upfront planning and design.


When considering an attic bedroom conversion project, your best bet is to meet with an architect and/or your local building inspector to see what your best options are for converting your attic space into a bedroom. This is a particularly important step if your home’s roof is constructed using roof trusses. Roof trusses are carefully designed for the specifics of your existing home, and as a result are not designed to be cut. With careful engineering re-design, however, the roof trusses can frequently be modified to open up some attic space.


Attic Bedroom Ingress/Egress

When considering an attic bedroom building project it is important to determine how you will access it. An attic ladder system is insufficient, so somehow a staircase and/or doorway will need to be integrated into your attic bedroom addition plans. Sometimes this may mean losing some space on a lower level to accommodate the staircase. In other cases, a separate staircase maybe able to be incorporated into the attic bedroom addition plans via an attached garage area.

Knee walls are typically required in an attic bedroom conversion project.

Photo by Mark Donovan


Also, if the attic bedroom remodeling addition is located over a garage, it may be possible to punch in a doorway into the attic area on the upper level of the existing home.


Beef Up Ceiling Joists

Attic ceiling joists are typically not designed to support the full load of a finished attic, particularly if there is a bathtub involved. Consequently you will most likely need to sister larger lumber to the sides of the existing ceiling joists. Not doing so will most likely lead to cracks forming in the lower level drywall ceiling.


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In this attic bedroom remodeling project strapping is installed on the ceiling to support drywall.

Photo by Mark Donovan

Incorporating Natural Light in Your Attic Bedroom Conversion

Attics can be dark places, so make sure you carefully consider the lighting in your attic bedroom conversion project. As part of your lighting plans make sure to include natural light into your attic bedroom conversion plans. Consider the installation of skylights to let in natural light. Also consider incorporating dog or shed dormers into your attic bedroom addition plans.


Windowed dormers can help bring in both natural light and ventilation into your attic space. Shed dormers can also provide additional full headroom height and floor space.


Heating and Cooling an Attic Bedroom Addition

Heating and cooling are major items that need to be properly planned and addressed when undertaking an attic bedroom conversion project. In many cases it may make more sense to install a separate heating and cooling system for the attic bedroom addition. Tying an attic bedroom addition into the main heating and cooling system can often be a challenge due to the location of the existing HVAC central system and the capacity of it. An HVAC professional is your best bet for determining your best avenue of attack with this issue.

Including a shed dormer in an attic bedroom conversion project is a great idea for creating additional headroom space, and for letting in natural light and ventilation.

Photo by Mark Donovan


Incorporation of a Bathroom into an Attic Bedroom Remodeling Project

Incorporating a bathroom into your attic bedroom conversion plans is an excellent idea, however it can often create a whole set of issues. For example, how will the plumbing drain and supply lines tie into the existing system? Can the proper drain pitch be achieved without elevating the bathroom floor? Will the existing ceiling joists support the weight of a tub, or how much extra lumber will be required to support the weight of a large Jacuzzi tub? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered when considering a bathroom in your attic bedroom conversion plans. A plumber should be able to answer these specific questions for you.

Attic Bedroom Conversion Safety

Finally, when planning an attic bedroom remodeling project, it is important to think about the safety issues. This includes having a primary and secondary ingress and egress into the attic bedroom, as well as incorporating smoke detectors and proper bedroom electrical circuits into the plans. In addition, if your attic bedroom conversion plans include a bathroom a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) electrical circuit will be required in the bathroom.

Though an attic bedroom conversion project has its own set of challenges, a large unfinished attic space is an ideal candidate for creating new and economical living space within your home. With proper planning, and upfront conversations with the right people before beginning construction, you can dramatically improve your chances of successfully realizing your attic bedroom remodeling plans.

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.

How to Finance your Attic Bedroom Conversion Project -  can help provide funds for your new home improvement project if financing is required.

Related Attic Information








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