needing more living space for your growing family you may want to take a look at
your unused attic space. Remodeling an attic is a great way to gain an extra
bedroom or a home office. In some cases even a bathroom can be included in the
attic remodeling plans. Attic remodeling planning, however, first requires
careful evaluation of several key factors, including attic ingress/egress, roof
pitch, the use of roof trusses, headroom height, and existing ceiling joists.
Anyone of these factors could prevent you from moving forward with an attic
remodeling plans, or at least add cost to have them properly addressed.
below are some key attic remodeling ideas to consider when contemplating
remodeling your attic.
Have an Architect or your Local Building Inspector Evaluate your
Unfinished Attic Space
One of the
first things you should do as part of your attic remodeling planning is have an
architect or local building inspector evaluate your attic to see if it can
legally be remodeled. They will inspect for roof construction, the size of the
existing ceiling joists, and the amount of headroom that is available in it.
Most likely they will not disqualify the attic for remodeling, but instead give
you input on what you will need to do to make it into a useful living space. For
example, roof trusses are specifically designed for your home. Consequently they
cannot be randomly cut to make headroom space. With proper architectural
engineering however, counter bracing may be able to be included into the
existing roof truss structure to enable some careful cutting of the roof trusses
to create additional headroom space.
Inclusion of Adequate Ingress/Egress into the Attic
ladder system is inadequate for ingress and egress to a finished attic. When
developing your attic remodeling plans consider how you plan to access the
finished attic space. This may mean adding a new staircase in your home, or
gaining access to the attic via the addition of a staircase in an attached
garage. In some cases, where you might be finishing the attic space above an
attached garage, you may be able to punch a doorway into the garage attic space
via the second level of the main home.
Include Natural Light in Your Attic Remodeling Plans
important attic remodeling idea is to include natural light into your attic
remodeling plans. Consider adding skylights or dormers into the roof to let in
natural light. There are narrow skylights that can easily slip in between
existing roof rafters to help avoid significant construction costs. Dormers will
cost a lot more to install, however certain dormers, e.g. a shed dormer, can
help add floor space and additional headroom.
Photo by Mark Donovan
Sistering Larger Lumber to Ceiling Joists when Remodeling an
ceiling joists are not meant to support the weight of a living space above them.
Do not be surprised if the building inspector or architect suggests the need for
sistering up to the existing ceiling joists wider lumber. Your ceiling joists
for example could be constructed out of 2x6 lumber. Consequently it may be
necessary to screw to each ceiling joist an adjacent 2x8 board to beef up the
ceiling joist, to support the extra weight of the finished attic living space.
If you do not do this, you may wind up with cracked ceilings on the lower level,
as the 2x6 ceiling joists will flex under the weight of a remodeled attic.
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Heating and Cooling a Remodeled Attic
critical attic remodeling idea to address is the installation of adequate attic
heating and cooling. A remodeled attic can be extremely uncomfortable if heating
and cooling are not properly addressed during the attic remodeling planning
stage. Frequently it makes more functional and economical sense to install a
separate and standalone heating and cooling system for the finished attic than
to tie the attic into the existing heating and cooling system.
Photos by Mark Donovan
Inclusion of a Bathroom in an Attic Remodeling Project
inclusion of a bathroom is another good, but challenging, attic remodeling idea.
If your attic remodeling plans do include a bathroom, make sure you meet with a
plumber during the planning phase of your project. In some cases a bathroom may
not be possible, without significant expense and effort. For example, plumbing
supply lines, and drain and vent pipes into the existing drain and vent stacks
can be a challenge. Sometimes the bathroom will need to be raised up several
inches, compared to the rest of the attic floor height, to make room for proper
drain pipe pitch. In addition, the weight of a bathtub will typically require a
beefed up set of floor joists underneath the bathtub.
Attic Remodeling Safety Concerns
when planning an attic remodeling project you need to think about safety.
Besides the main ingress/egress from the attic, you will need a secondary route,
such as a large window. In addition, you may need to include a rope ladder near
the second ingress/egress.
You will also need to include a smoke detector in the attic, and if your attic
remodeling plans include a bathroom, a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)
circuit will be required in the bathroom.
By considering all of these attic remodeling planning ideas upfront you will
increase the probability of a successful attic remodeling project.
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
Remodeling Project -
can help provide funds for your new home improvement project if financing is
Related Attic Information