Creating Usable Space In Your Attic
By Hunter Pyle
The Attic. There is something about attics. Things hide in attics, treasures can be found there. Up there, old memories linger. Attics, to be more practical and less romantic about them, offer the chance to create space without building an addition.
Before you decide to start on what could be a large project, even before you sit down and create a plan and design your ideal, you have to go up and inspect it.
Survey the attic. One indication of the extent of the alterations need to be made is immediately obvious. If you are five foot and can touch the ceiling or even bump into it, the height is a problem. Building codes require ceilings to be a certain height and people require the ability to stand erect and not crouch in a room. Claustrophobia and cozy are not the same. Will you have to raise the roof or build a window tower?
What is also obvious and common to attics is another feature that will affect your plans: slope. The roofs of attics slope. They angle at sometimes alarming degrees. This dictates what can be placed where in a room and opens up the possibility of adding a dormer – another expense.
While you are up in the attic examine structural properties. Check whether there are trusses in the roof or it has individual rafters. Attics with trusses you may forget your plan to convert it drastically and be forced to consider somewhere else, like the basement.
Examine the floor. Does it have one or is it insulation covering the ceiling of what lies below? If it does not have a floor, do not walk across it to examine the rest of the area.
Is there enough ventilation? Attics are notorious for being hot in summer and cold in winter. You need proper ventilation throughout the room and through the roof itself. An option here is the addition of skylights or windows. Heating usually is not as great a problem.
There are other considerations. Attics often have a chimney at one end. This, again, restricts construction and hampers possibilities. Are the rafters sagging, undersized or leaking? Is there any means of natural light, or is it all artificial?
One significant factor affecting an attic expansion project is stairs. Does the attic have any solid, easily accessible stairs? Remember, you are going to have to haul everything up to the attic to work on it. The installation of stairs may have to be another interesting and creative addition to the project.
An attic conversion will, in all likelihood, involve the following: adding insulation, framing and installing a ceiling, erecting partitions (whole or partial), building stairs, and adding wiring, plumbing and flooring. A dormer may have to be added to supply the necessary space requirements. Skylights may be necessary to provide lighting and walk-in closets need to be built for storage. Shelves for storage, books and bric-a-brac will all probably be needed to be built if the space is to become livable.
The most popular proposed use for an attic is a bedroom with a bath and walk-in closet. It can also, however, be turned into an office, kid’s room, playroom or living space.
About the Author: This article was written to give some advice about making some attic space useable again. Check out Get Organized or Kitchen and Much More for some really useful items to help you stay organized.