If you have an attic that’s just an empty space above your home and you’re considering a utilitarian upgrade (a useful remodel), then this article is for you.
Attics hold the potential to become almost any type room you can imagine, assuming you have the square footage to work with and the finances to make it happen.
In this article we’ll cover some of the remodeling options to consider when converting that boring old attic into an exciting new room, as well as provide you some guidance during the process.
A Master Bedroom Suite?
Converting an old attic space into that master bedroom you’ve always wanted is but one possibility of many to re-purpose that usable attic area.
Another option is creating some flex space. That is, space that is used for an office or other such utility. Hence the term, flexible space. Whatever your dream, it can become a reality.
Keep in mind that renovations aren’t cheap, especially these days. Before you begin you’ll want to consult with your contractor/remodeler and go over your ideas with him/her.
Remodels can run into a lot of money if you aren’t careful…and even when you are. The big picture looks good but the devil is in the details. There is a complexity to bigger projects that by their nature generates more costs. If you need running water for instance, you need a water heater and so on.
Some serious considerations are necessary before undertaking any major renovation project. Below are some things you may need for your renovation project depending on how extensive you want to get. Discuss the ones that apply to you with your contractor.
What’s the Big Idea?
With a virtually limitless pool of ideas from which to choose, we can only touch on the highlights in this article. A complete remodel can become quite complex while generating new costs once you begin so you’ll need a good idea of what you’re getting into before you get started.
- Ceiling height – A pitched roof can be a problem when it comes to the height of your attic ceiling. You can lower a ceiling a lot easier than you can raise one. Additionally, most state building codes require a general ceiling height of between 6.8 and 7.5 feet for 50% of the usable floor space. If you’re creating rentable living space keep this in mind.
- Lighting – Ceiling lights, track lighting, recessed lights, all of the aforementioned. Lighting can be a challenge and costly. Tell your builder what you’re thinking or what he sees in the renovation pertaining to lights. Skylights are also an option.
- Stairs – If necessary. Depending on your situation, a set of access stairs may need to be built.
- Mechanicals – This category includes your plumbing and electric in addition to the heating and cooling system (HVAC). Installing a second system can be costly but often worth it for comfort. Particularly if it is to be used as a living, office, or rental space.
- Flooring – It’s important to know a few things here. Will your floor support the weight you intend to have on it? A tub of bathwater can weigh close to 500 lbs. What about insulation? Did you know that adding flooring directly atop your fiberglass insulation will compress the air out of it, rendering it virtually useless? Consult an expert.
- Codes and Safety – Building codes were established for a reason, safety. It is important that your construction project meets city code standards and is built correctly. It’s not only the law, it is for your safety and the welfare of any visitor to your home.
- A Means of Egress – In building language, egress refers to a way out of a building in the event of an emergency. Each converted attic apartment or living area must have 2 forms of egress. These can include stairs, a window, a ramp or fire escape. Check with your local officials to ensure you are in compliance with city codes.
Considerations and Upgrades
If you’re considering some upgrades to your remodeling job you have many options.
A dormer is one of them. Dormers are roofed structures usually containing a window that are built atop the main portion of a roof. Dormers can increase the usable space in an attic or loft while providing sunlight and fresh air. Plus, they look good and add value to the home.
One can’t argue taste. It is an individual preference. That’s why when it comes to style, everyone has a different take.
Take ceilings for example. With so many styles and textures available, you are sure to find the exact one that suits your tastes. Below is a brief list of some ceiling options. These are some of the most popular. There are many more types of ceiling styles that we simply don’t have the room to cover in this article. But here are five well established ones.
5 Ceiling Types
- A conventional ceiling. This is the traditional flat or smooth ceiling found in many homes.
- A beam ceiling. This one utilizes wooden beams for a more rugged or lodge-like look.
- Coved ceilings. These ceilings replace the sharp corners of traditional ceilings with curved edges. Not real popular (mostly due to costs) but if you can afford it, it’s a nice looking ceiling.
- Vaulted ceiling. Vaulted ceilings in construction lingo generally refer to any ceiling in the shape of an arch. Vaulted ceilings are also known as high or raised ceilings. Technically though, any ceiling above 8 feet in height is considered a vaulted ceiling.
- Tray ceiling. This type of ceiling gets its name from looking like an upside down serving tray. Recessed in the center of the perimeter by several inches or even feet, this style creates an almost 3-D effect. Like a deep picture frame on the ceiling is a good description.
4 Ceiling Finishes
Choosing the right texture for your ceiling will provide that finishing touch and help bring the entire room together. With so many texture options, finding the right one can be a fun experience. Here’s a look at some finishes you may wish to consider.
- Smooth Finish – That’s self-explanatory.
- Popcorn Ceiling – Popular since the ’70’s, this type ceiling has a sprayed on texture that when dried, resembles popcorn. It looks good and lasts a long time. But it’s tricky to apply, a devil to paint (popcorn comes off on your roller), and a real mess to remove. (Experience talking here.)
- Orange Peel – Delivers a rough texture by spraying on thin plasterer’s mud with high pressure. This style is also referred to as egg shell. Painting this texture with a roller is really easy. Long lasting and eye-catching.
- Rosebud Texture – Popular and pretty, the rough-textured rosebud ceiling is also easy to apply for a professional plasterer. This texture perfectly complements a smooth wall while giving striking definition to the ceiling.
How about a few small upgrades to the project? We’ve mentioned dormers, various ceiling-style options along with some cool textures you can apply to them, so what else can you do to make your new space more wonderful? Once you get the construction process underway you may wish to consider some add-ons if the budget allows for them.
Some of the most popular ideas are, turning an odd-shaped area (especially in attics) into some useful shelving for books or pictures.
Converting those weird angled sections of the wall into extra storage space with custom cabinets is an excellent upgrade. A broom closet, while not romantic, is very practical. Broom closets can hold more than just a broom. But not a lot more.
Another simple but utilitarian upgrade is to extend your WiFi service to your new room. A doorbell is also a good idea when outside stairs are involved.
Yes, converting that open attic area into a room that will add beauty and value to your home and life can prove quite the undertaking and very rewarding.
There is a real feeling of accomplishment when you find yourself relaxing comfortably in a lovely room whose former tenants were spiderwebs and dust. If you have a dream, action makes it happen.
We hope this article has given you some professional insight and the encouragement to act if you are thinking of remodeling that old attic. Going over the information contained in this article with your builder will help ensure you get everything you want from your new space and no disappointments.