Many homes have an attic that is used for little except storage. And many homeowners that may have considered upgrading to a larger home to accommodate their growing families may be putting this off as the real estate market recovers. So what’s the answer then, for a family that needs extra space, but can’t relocate? An attic renovation. Attic remodels are one of the fastest growing trends in the home renovation field right now. Remodeling an attic is much easier than remodeling a basement for several reasons, and it can dramatically increase the amount of square footage you have in your home. If you’re wondering if an attic remodel might be the right choice for your home, be sure to consider these factors.
The Basics of Attic Remodeling
Attics come in all shapes and sizes, which means that attic remodels can take a lot of different forms as well. A lot of it comes down to several different attributes in the space, and what you can do about them.
Some attics are very accessible with a permanent staircase already in place. Others can only be accessed through a trap door hidden in someone’s bedroom closet. Depending on your home’s current layout and your attic’s current access, you may need to remodel more than just the attic to make the space accessible. If your current attic access point is in an area where stairs can’t be built, take a look at other parts of your home. Could you add a spiral staircase in the living room? Could you remove a closet to put in a flight of stairs? A builder, architect, or design firm can help you evaluate these choices, but be prepared for more invasive work if you need access built.
Many attics have a pitch to their ceilings that follow the roof outside. Some pitches are relatively steep and leave little usable space in the center of the room, while others are shallower and can allow you more space. Building codes in your area may dictate just how high a wall needs to be to install things like plumbing in it. For example, if you want to add an attic bathroom, your toilet can only sit below a wall of certain heights. In these cases, what may look like a wide open floor plan can actually shrink down to a much smaller footprint when you take the standing room into account. Like the stairs, if you don’t have enough standing room, you will need to be prepared for more invasive construction as your roof line is changed. Work with a builder, architect, or roofing firm to ensure this is done right.
It’s estimated that as many as 90% of older homes – the ones that tend to have generous attics with easy access – are under-insulated, particularly in the attic. This can mean that without properly sealing your new attic room, the space can get very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. New insulation both beneath the roof and the attic floor is crucial to making this space usable.
You aren’t necessarily used to hearing people walking above you on what is currently your top floor. Once an attic is finished, if the subfloor isn’t reinforced and extra insulation added, you could hear a lot of noise from up there. Likewise, installing hardwood or tile floors may mean that things like footsteps are amplified down below. Ask your builder or architect if there are ways to help cushion sound to the rooms below.
Consider Converting Your Attic
When properly done, an attic conversion can dramatically increase the amount of usable living space in your home. Whether you convert it to a master bedroom and bathroom suite, a home office, or a kids’ playroom, it’s essential that you get the job done right, and that you prepare for everything it can entail.