Life comes at us fast, and many homeowners find themselves scrambling for extra living space with the arrival of a little one, the return of a graduated college student, or the taking in of an elderly parent. If you’re looking to expand your living space without knocking down walls or buying a new home, look upward. Renovating your attic can transform an underutilized space into the perfect mother-in-law suite, guest room, or even master bedroom. Converting an attic isn’t without its fair share of obstacles, so be sure you’re ready for the challenge before tackling this renovation project and keep the following facets in mind.
The Right Side of the Law
Before you get too far in your conversion planning, check into local building codes. Attic conversions may seem like a straightforward and simple way to add space to your home, but there are many specifications that can make it a bit more challenging. Your attic must have at least 70 square feet of floor space to provide the right sized living quarters, and floor space must extend at least 7 feet in any given direction. When it comes to required height, know that 50 percent of your attic’s usable floor space should have a ceiling height of 7.5 feet or more. Head up to your attic and take a look at your support system. Traditional rafters are shaped like triangles, while trusses appear as triangles with smaller triangles inside of them. For attic conversion purposes, rafters work in your favor, while trusses can significantly hinder your efforts. Access is another important factor; if you plan on converting this room into a living space, you’ll need to incorporate code-compliant stairs. Some homeowners choose to install ready-made stair cases, while others must commission custom staircases from Stair Solution. You must also create a second egress point. Attics are especially vulnerable to fire; as heat and fire rise, small flames can turn into an inferno in seconds. It’s important to provide anyone living in this space a secondary point of exit. Generally homeowners choose to install an opening window in their attic.
Important System Extensions
Because your attic wasn’t initially intended to be a living space, you’ll need to invest in extending important systems in the space to make it comfortable and functional. Electrical and plumbing systems tend to be the most pressing matters. Consult a professional, licensed electrician to learn if your electric panel is capable of taking on additional breakers and handling the increased load an extra bedroom will constitute. Your attic conversion will likely need a new bathroom, and you can reduce costs by placing it near the large pipes that carry waste to your septic tank or to the sewer. This cuts down on expenses and you reduce the amount of pipe running between the stack and the bathroom’s toilet, shower, and sink drainage systems.
Handling Temperature Control
In the summer, attics get very hot, and in the winter, can be freezing cold. It can be difficult to make an attic temperature controlled, and most homeowners find they must upgrade ventilation or install a new central air condition system. When planning your attic conversion, consider how you’ll tackle this problem. Many homeowners look towards energy efficient solutions. Investing in an upgraded HVAC system for your entire home will provide value far beyond remaining comfortable wherever you are in the house. Installing energy efficient windows will provide natural lighting (a must for dark attic spaces) and ensure warm or cool air isn’t escaping your converted attic. The right insulation and sealing upgrades can also help manage temperature control without costing a fortune. These costs can quickly add up, but many homeowners find that the right energy efficient upgrades actually significantly increase their home’s value. Thanks to burgeoning interest in green living solutions, there are many ways to access the funding you need for sustainable home improvements. Renovate America offers home financing solutions for all areas of the home, allowing homeowners to fund important upgrades without paying the costs upfront. This type of financing is applied to your property taxes, enabling you to purchase the upgrades you need, when you need them.
Upgrading your attic into a comfortable living space is a cost-effective way to upgrade your home and add instant value to your property. With its numerous benefits, attic conversions come with their fair share of challenges, and it’s important to assess all aspects of this endeavor before taking on a conversion project.