Attic Remodeling

If attic remodeling is something you are considering, there are some basics concepts that need to be squared away immediately or otherwise the whole idea won't work.

Remodeling the attic is subject to structural, ventilation and access issues. When it comes to remodeling the attic, it takes the skills and knowledge of somebody who knows what they're doing. This is not a time for someone new to learn new construction techniques.

What's in the Attic?

If you're considering an attic remodeling project, you'll need to start by determining that the construction of the house will support an attic conversion.

Do you know how to access the attic space? Very old large homes commonly had small stairways to the attic space.

Another common way to create a route for accessing the attic is using attic ladders. These ladders will fold away into the floor joist of the ceiling. Pulling a rope drops the ladder so you can climb into the attic space.

In today's modern homes, the most common means of access to the attic is through an attic hatch. Building codes require them but they aren't too large. You access this space by putting a step ladder under the attic hatch hole and lifting yourself into the attic space.

Whatever access is available, prior to construction of the attic, your designer will have to find a way to build a staircase to this space. And if the staircase is too small, see if your designer can make this staircase larger.

Is There Available Headroom?

What is already available for headroom? Can you stand up in the space? How much floor area do you have in the space that you can stand in?

Most attic spaces will require you to use your roof rafters as the ceiling space. This will mean installing ventilation, insulation, wiring, lighting and drywall. This work will come into this headroom space. So you need to allow for that work as well.

What Kind of Floor System Exist?

Are the ceiling joist from below strong enough to support a live load floor above?

If the floors in the attic are not going to be strong enough, they can be reinforced by installing additional floor joist. Make sure you understand that you'll lose more headroom by doing this.

Do You Need to Re-Route Any Utilities?

The last thing you'll have to consider is re-routing any plumbing or electrical systems.

You'll need to move any heating or air conditioning ducts.

If there is a chimney stack posing a space problem, you might consider removing it in order to accommodate for this new living space.

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Renovated Attics Make Great Spaces

Are you looking to build an attic refuge - it sounds idyllic.

Attic remodeling can offer:

- A place away from others where your teenager can beat his drums.

- How about a place of solitude where you can sip a cup of coffee and listen to the rain.

- Maybe you see this as a great way to build a spare bedroom or a cozy library.

- If the space is large enough, maybe this room will house that pool table you've always wanted. (Of course, getting it up there is another concern!)

This can be a great space! And it's tucked away from the rest of the house - kind of like a refuge.

Whatever your reasons for converting the attic, we need to cover a couple of basic issues here. Because if remodeling the attic doesn't work - the whole idea is off!

Attic conversions pose special considerations. Attic remodeling brings special challenges which need to be determined in advance.

Is There Stand Up Space?

What kind of framing structure exist in the attic?

If there is a web of criss-cross triangular framing lumber over the entire attic with no interior space - well that's structural.

You need to find out if rafters needs to be cut and headers installed. You'll have to brace and support beams. This structural work should be carried out under the guidance of a professional structural engineer.

What is the Availability of Natural Light?

Are there windows up in the attic? Can you install windows? Most likely you'll be able to install windows in the gable ends.

Can you install a dormer. A dormer is major structural work. A dormer will be costly but the benefits of added space and light is most likely worth it.

Will the space allow you to install skylights?

How Will You Get Drywall Up?

You'll need to consider how you're going to get drywall up in this space. Older homes, that used this space as storage, didn't improvise for getting large sheets of drywall up the staircase.

Will the drywall need to be cut down? Will the smaller pieces of drywall add to the labor cost?

Can the drywall be mechanically lifted into a side window or dormer? Is it possible to create an opening in the gable ends to mechanically lift the drywall into this space?

Talk with your drywall contractor about how you're going to handle getting the drywall into this upper space.