What You Should Know Before Converting an Attic into Usable Space

converting an attic
Photo by Marco Amatulli on Unsplash.

For many homeowners, the potential to outgrow a home often becomes a reality at some point. Whether more space is needed to support a growing family or accommodate new hobbies, additional space is often required.

But before you decide to put your home up for sale and move to a larger home, you might want to consider adding extra space to your existing home. Short of actually building a whole new addition, you may be able to make use of underutilized space in your home to serve as an additional bedroom, office space, gym, or any other requirement you might have.

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While the basement is always the first place homeowners turn to, your attic might actually be a great alternative, as long as the space permits.

In fact, converting your attic into a usable living space is a fantastic way to maximize the square footage of your home. That said, it’s important to consider a number of factors before you get started with an attic renovation.

Is Your Home’s Structure Strong Enough?

Depending on what you plan to do with your attic space, you’ll first want to make sure that the structural integrity is intact. If you just want to add a couple of chairs to create a little rec room, that might be fine.

But if you intend to install a bathroom or completely outfit the space with tons of heavy furniture, you’ll want to verify that the attic’s floor joists are adequate enough to support the project.

Is More Insulation Required?

The attic tends to be either the hottest or coldest part of the house, depending on the season. In order to make the space comfortable for use, make sure that it is insulated adequately enough to keep the area cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Plus, insulation can also help to create more of a sound insulator from the rest of the home.

Are You Compliant With Local Building Codes?

Every jurisdiction comes with its own set of building codes that dictate what types of projects are legal and which ones aren’t. It’s important to follow these codes not only to make sure you’re in compliance but also to make sure that the project you undertake results in a space that’s safe for occupancy.

Can Windows Be Installed?

It would be a pretty dark and dingy space if the attic you convert lacks windows. Make sure you account for the installation of windows (if there aren’t any already) in your attic renovation project.

Have You Considered Electrical Wiring and Plumbing Pipes?

You’re going to need some lighting up in the attic, which will require ample electrical wiring to be installed. But what may be more of an issue if not properly addressed is plumbing, if needed. If you plan to install a bathroom, you’ll need to consider how the plumbing pipes will reach the space.

This can be much easier if the bathroom is installed directly over top of a bathroom on the level below, as the pipes can simply extend up. But if you need to completely reconfigure your pipes, this will require plenty of planning and the help of a plumber and engineer.

How Will You Gain Access to Your New Space?

You’re going to need a way to reach your newly renovated attic space somehow, and usually, a set of stairs is the way to do it. If you already have a staircase, it may be adequate enough to serve as an entry and exit point.

Otherwise, you may have to either expand or reconfigure the stairs or create a new space for a new set of stairs leading to the attic.

Have You Considered “Egress”?

Depending on what you’ll be using your attic space for, you may need to adhere to specific egress requirements. This simply refers to providing occupants of the room with adequate means of escaping should an emergency come about, such as a fire.

If the space is being used as a bedroom or separate living quarters, there will likely need to be a minimum of two exits, including a doorway and a window.

Will You Need Additional Units For the HVAC System?

In many cases, the air conditioning and heating systems aren’t adequate enough to reach the attic. If this is the case for you, you’ll either want to add new ductwork and expand the strength of your current HVAC system or install separate baseboards and A/C units up there to keep the space adequately cooled and heated when necessary.

Final Thoughts

Revamping your attic to create additional useable space is a great way to avoid having to add an addition or even completely uproot yourself and your family in favour of a new, bigger home. If the space and budget permit, you can create an awesome living space that can even add some extra value to your home.

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