If you are thinking about ways to convert your attic into a living space, as long as you have enough space and the right layout, you have plenty of options.
The attic has long been considered the storage unit of the house, but with a little bit of effort (and the right foundation), it can become the most unique room in a house.
If you are considering remodeling your attic and converting it from an unfinished area with exposed insulation or a storage area into something a little more livable, the first thing you should do is speak to a contractor and have them look the place over. The attic is a unique room and serves a function in construction. You don’t want to just start making changes unless you are certain you know what you are doing.
Here are a few things to consider when converting your attic into a living space.
Make Sure Your Attic is Suitable for Conversion
Before you get to converting your attic into a new room, you should first check to make sure your attic can be converted.
Start by checking for the obvious things, like space and placement of existing objects. If you have a heating duct running through the center of the room, it limits your options. You also need to confirm that the attic floor can support plenty of weight – it should, but better to check before you try doing any work.
You will also need to consider the ventilation. Most attics don’t have windows, let alone proper ventilation. You’ll also need to see how the attic fares during the summer and winter when the temperatures reach extremes. Without proper ventilation similar to what you’ll find in the rest of your house, the attic will bake in the summer, and without heating vents and proper insulation, it will freeze in the winter.
Talk to a licensed contractor and have them look over your attic. Even if you don’t plan on using them for the actual work, it’s best to get a professional opinion. They can also let you know about any legal questions you may face, including zoning and permit questions.
Choose What You Want to Do With the Room
Once you have confirmed that your attic is a candidate for conversion before you begin work you’ll need to decide exactly what you want to do with the space. That decision will affect how you approach the work on the room.
Different configurations will require different things. If you want to turn the space into a bedroom, for example, you should consider how you want to address storage for clothing and the like. If there is room for a proper closet, you should add one, but you will always be dealing with the unusual shape of the ceiling. The same is true of placing a rectangular dresser against a sloping wall. So if design is important to you, you may want to consider adding built-ins and designing the storage to fit the unique geometry.
If you are looking at the space for other reasons – a media room, for example – you’ll need to make sure the room can accommodate that. You’ll need a lot of outlets, and bringing multiple couches or chairs into the room might be tougher than it seems.
Expand the Access
If you do choose to do something in the attic that requires a lot of furniture – or you just want to easily access the room – you will probably need to expand your access. Most unfinished attics are only accessible through a hatch and a ladder, which is inconvenient, at best.
You’ll need to find the room for a new stairwell, which is easier said than done. You’re going to have to sacrifice some existing space, and you’ll need to make sure that the stairwell doesn’t cut through anything important – a load-bearing wall or vital plumbing, for instance.
When considering a new access point, don’t be locked into using the location of the existing hatch. You can always cover it up later if it’s easier to build the new stairwell somewhere else. Unused closets make for a good place to add a stairwell, as do utility rooms.
Consider Adding Windows
One of the best reasons to convert your attic is the amount of light you can have pour into the room. Skylights are a great addition to an attic, and with a little extra effort, you can turn part of the entire wall into a window.
Whatever you decide, it will probably be a fairly major undertaking. You’re essentially removing part of your roof and replacing it with glass, so the windows will need to be extremely durable, enough so they can act as insulation and protection from the elements. From a design standpoint, you’ll also need a unique solution for the blinds if you want to keep the sun out during the day, but at night the angle of the roof and the elevation should provide plenty of privacy (in most cases).
Know the Costs
Turning your attic into a living space is not an inexpensive prospect. The costs will change based on how much work needs to be done and what you are converting it to, but it can cost thousands, even tens of thousands if you the attic is fairly large and your ambitions are great. If you want to add a bathroom or a kitchen unit, it will jump even higher. There are good reasons to consider the costs and investment though.
A converted attic space can raise the value of your house significantly, plus you can potentially even turn it into a second unit, separate from the rest of your house. You’ll need to add external access (which means a door and a stairway outside), but once that’s done you essentially have an accessory dwelling unit on top of your home. If you decided to one day rent your house, you can treat it like a duplex, or set it up as a high-end Air BnB to help pay the bills.
Whatever your choice, know the costs before you get too far into the planning phase.
Speak to Professionals
If you are thinking about converting your attic into anything from a living room to a media room to an office, you should begin by speaking to a professional. Contact Fleschner Construction and let us give you options. We can help you navigate the entire process from concept to decorating. Contact us today!