Thinking of adding more space to your home, but don’t want to build an addition? A great way to do that is by finishing your attic. However, not all attics are candidates for remodels. Take a peek inside and make note of how the attic is built. If you see W-shaped beams supporting the roof, the cost of finishing the space isn’t worth it. The beams are there for the purpose of holding up the roof of the house and they are necessary. However, if you have a nice open space in your attic that is shaped like an A, then you are all set to renovate.
Accessing the attic
You’ll want to consider how you’ll get into the attic room once it’s done. Staircases can take up a lot of space and will affect the rooms below, so the location of the entry point is important. Spiral staircases take up the least amount of space, followed by a curving shape that has a landing point. A straight staircase will take up the most space.
Plan to stand
Typical building codes require that a room be about 7.5-feet tall in at least half the space. Check local codes to see if these specifics apply in your area. When you are first measuring the space, remember to compensate for finishing material. You will have insulation and dry wall on top of the current wall or ceiling of the attic. Once everything is built, the 7.5-feet rule should hold.
Consider light and access
An attic shouldn’t feel like a dungeon. One of the benefits of finishing this space as opposed to a basement is that you are above ground and will have access to natural light. If the attic doesn’t have a window already, be sure to add one while building. No matter how much space you have in the attic, there will be a window size that can fit. Retractable screens can also be fitted to any size window so that you have the same convenience in your attic as in the rest of the house. Sunlights are also a great option.
Building codes require that bedrooms have two exits in case of a fire. One way is out the door and down the stairs. The other can be a full-size window, which is often referred to as an egress in the case of building codes.
Hot air rises. This fact won’t change once you’ve finished your attic. This is especially dangerous in winter, as hot attic temperatures melt the snow on the roof, which then falls into the gutters and refreezes. It might sound counter intuitive, but you need to insulate your attic and include vents. The vents will bring in cool outdoor air to keep the rising heat at bay. You can also fit your attic windows with retractable screens. This way you can open the window but still protect the room from bugs. This natural ventilation will work similarly to vents and acts as indoor temperature control.
Another way to circulate air is to add a ceiling fan that will push hot air back down. Add windows on either end of the attic for the best cross-circulation.
Dormers are windows that project from a roof in a vertical direction. They lift part of the roof up to create more ceiling height. The room you create in your finished attic will seem larger with the addition of dormers.
Like with any other building project, you must obtain permits to finish your attic. Before you make a plan, get permission. This way you’ll know what is and is not allowed in your area.