If your family is starting to outgrow your home, you are most likely thinking of additional rooms to accommodate your changing needs. Remodeling your attic is one way of increasing the size of your home as long as you can meet the criteria that would keep the costs in check. Converting it into usable space (other than for stashing your old clothes and knick-knacks) not only gives more room for your family; it also increases your home’s potential resale value. Before you start drawing the plans, however, several things have to be considered to find out if an attic remodel is really viable for your home.  For example, just how difficult would it be to turn your attic into an extra room and what kind of return can you expect to get from this project?


Potential for Conversion


Take a candid look at your attic and see how it fares on some vital factors for structural adequacy and comfort.


A-shape Frame:  If the rafters that support the roof of your attic form an A-shape (with ample open space beneath the rafters), you have a good attic remodeling candidate.


Headroom: Building codes typically require the ceiling height of a living space to be at least 7.5 feet high for at least half of the total floor area and no portion with less than 5 feet ceiling height overall. Also, take into account the thickness of the finishing materials when calculating headroom.


Stairway: Think up and down from the remodeled attic. Enlarging the existing stairway or replacing it with a new one can take up some space.


Windows – Lights and Access: Most building codes require an exit through a window (in case of fire or other emergency), especially if you are planning to use the attic as a bedroom. It might be necessary to add windows for this purpose, as well as to maximize natural light.


Floor Framing: If you only have 2 x 4’s, you would have to reinforce them to hold the new set of furnishings and load of people.


Temperature/Ventilation: Routing or rerouting HVAC ducts will entail costs and insulation will likewise be a necessity. Consult an expert for proper assessment of these.


Plumbing: If you plan to include a bathroom, it would be ideal to place it above an existing bathroom on the floor below. This would considerably reduce the cost and avoid the trouble of cutting a hole in the room for new vent stacks.


Possible Deal Breakers


Ceiling Height Requirement: One element that could adversely affect your attic remodeling project is the code’s ceiling height requirement. If your home’s roof pitch does not meet the specification (as earlier mentioned in your existing attic’s headroom assessment), your only option would be to raise the roof, which could make your attic remodel too costly; or it might not even be allowed by the local building/zoning department in your neighborhood.


Prefabricated Roof Trusses: Most of the homes built in the last couple of decades likely used prefabricated trusses instead of the conventional rafter and ceiling beam/joists structure. Since trusses have webs or cross-members, they would have to be removed (and replaced) to gain some clear space for the attic remodel. Thus, if your home has roof trusses, it would be difficult to put the costs down and carry out the remodeling project in a relatively affordable manner.


Costs Involved: Depending on the age and style of your home, attic remodels can require quite a lot of tearing down and/or additions. Here are some possible costs to consider:

  • Capacity of existing HVAC system. Additional capacity can get expensive.
  • Electrical wiring up to the new attic space. If the incoming service line is insufficient, it would entail a substantial expense to expand the panel and add a new line.
  • If a bathroom is part of the plan, it can get costly to run plumbing supply lines and plumbing drains to/from the (remodeled) attic.
  • Costs that may be incurred for new stairs, shoring up floors, and additional windows.


Distinct Advantages


Attics may be considered one of the more unappealing spaces in most homes and probably at the bottom of the list of remodeling options. While there are potential drawbacks to an attic remodeling project, there are equally compelling reasons to move this option up to the top.


Add to Usable Square Footage of Your Home: More often than not, attics are perceived as that dark and drafty part of the house used to store steamer trunks and the like. Attic remodeling basically converts previously unused space into usable and habitable space where you can spend time in comfort and style. Needless to say, this also enhances the value of your home.


Less Expensive to Remodel:  All factors and possible downsides considered; with roof and floor and other structural elements already in place, the cost to remodel your attic is still far less than remodeling or add-on projects that start from the ground.


Smart Investment. One of the important elements you should consider when planning any remodeling or home improvement is the value that the project will add to your home when completed. In a 2011-2012 industry survey on value vis-à-vis cost, it was indicated that when it comes to recouping the cost or what is aptly called return on investment (ROI), putting your money on attic remodeling makes a lot more sense compared to similar home projects, such as master bedroom additions, sun deck add-ons, and even the ever-popular kitchen remodeling. The same study showed that at the very least, you can recoup approximately 72.5% of the cost incurred in attic remodeling.


Yes, It Does Make Sense!


When you think about all the benefits you can obtain, remodeling your attic ultimately makes perfect sense. However, some factors require critical evaluation; thus, it’s always a good idea to consult trustworthy building professionals before embarking on such an important project. Fineline Construction has the expertise and capability to provide you with a straightforward and unbiased assessment. Call 704-332-1747 to schedule a review of your home’s existing foundation and framing; that way, you can ascertain that your home’s current structure will support the added loads before you get too far in the planning stage.