13 Steps: How to remodel your Attic
When looking for additional space it’s sometimes difficult to expand the footprint of your home. The attic of your home may be space that you can reclaim and turn into a cozy bedroom. This usually junk filled area can be cleared out and remodeled into a bedroom or other useful room. The space is one of the more unique areas to work with and has some special considerations that mean you have to put even more thought in to the process. We’ve put together a step by step how to remodel your attic guide that will put you on the right track.
Your step by step guide to your attic remodel
Step 1: Determine if your attic can be used
Not every attic can be converted to usable living space. Your best way forward is to hire a contractor to come and inspect your attic. They will have a good understanding of local building codes and can give you an unbiased opinion on if it is possible.
Your attic will need to usually need to have a height of 7 feet and a square footage of 70 feet. If you don’t have the necessary clearances, you can put in what is called a dormer. A dormer extends out your roof on a flat and creates a place for another window as well usually.
It will need stairs up into the space that comply with codes, and a window that is large enough to be used as an emergency escape route. The floor will also need to be able to support the additional weight of flooring, walls and furniture.
The trusses in use in your attic are another major consideration. If you have manufactured roof trusses it can be expensive to replace them. Manufactured roof trusses normally have a set of cross members that serve as structural supports. They normally look like a “W” rather than an “A”.
Examine your existing HVAC and electrical system to see if it will support the additional loads of your planned space. If you have to put in a new system for either it can come with significant costs.
Step 2: Budget
If your space is capable of being transformed into your hideaway, then you have a decision to make. This decision is how much are you willing to spend on your new attic. The budget that you decide will largely determine what you can do with your space. The national average for an attic remodel in 2015 was around $50,000.
Once you have determined how much you have available you need to make a rough estimate of how much you are going to spend on each element of your remodel. This includes dividing your budget between framing, flooring, wall treatments, and any electrical or plumbing you decide to put into it.
Step 3: Plan
With a budget in hand you can now begin planning. Your planning needs to be detailed and thorough. It can often take weeks or months to accurately plan out your remodel. In the planning stage is when you take a look at the different finishing ideas and select from the available options. Taking the time to make a detailed plan keeps your remodel on track and makes sure that you have thought about all of the different aspects.
Step 4: Permits
The need for permits is something no remodeling effort can ignore. Prior to doing any work coordinate any inspections and permits that your remodel will require. This is not always as easy as it sounds so ensure you give yourself enough time to make all the requests and get the right approvals.
Never do any work without an approved permit. Work completed without an accompanying permit may not be included in the value of your home. This means you could put tens of thousands of dollars into an addition that at best is not able to be recouped, at worst if you attempt to sell the home may need to be redone.
Step 5: Reinforcing structural elements
Before any work can begin the structure needs to be inspected and reinforced. Joists in an attack are rarely constructed to hold the weight of finished rooms. Your joists may need to be reinforced, either by doubling them or by inclusion of a beam to hold the additional weight your remodel will add.
The roof joists may need to be reconfigured depending on the style of roof that your home has. “A” frame roofs are usually better suited to an attic remodel than are “W” style supports. This can often be a significant consideration on your potential remodel.
Step 6: Subflooring and sound insulation
To begin your remodel, you need a stable surface. Your subfloor is the place to start. If you are installing any sound deadening insulation or materials, they need to be put into place before you lay down the subflooring. With these materials put into place you lay down the plywood subflooring. This will be the base for your other work.
Step 7: Framing walls and storage
Now that you have a floor you can put your walls into place. This includes framing out any built in storage options that you have chosen. As you partition your attic space take the time to measure realistic placement for your furniture. This is a good idea in general, and especially in a space with unique requirements for heights and angles of the roof.
Step 8: Insulation
Insulation is critical in your attic remodel. With the roof the only thing between your room and the heat of the sun, or the cold of winter insulation is all that allows you to heat and cool the room effectively. Although more expensive using spray foam insulation will pay off in the long run.
Step 9: Heating & Air Conditioning
Your heating and air conditioning needs must be addressed before you begin any of the finishing touches. The ducting can sometimes be extended from other rooms and your attic tied into existing systems.
If possible, consult or contract out to a HVAC specialist for the ability to have a separate thermostat for your attic. Your attic will be warmer or colder than the rest of the home depending on the season. Having the ability to control the heating and air conditioning for the attic on its own will allow you to avoid making the rest of the house freezing just to have a comfortable attic space.
Step 10: Electrical/Plumbing
The last step before finishing off your walls is to run any electrical or plumbing necessary. These are not do-it-yourself type of projects. Contract out this work to a licensed electrician or plumber to avoid costly and dangerous mistakes. You will need about 1 electrical outlet every 10 feet.
With everything you want hidden away completed it is time to drywall. A consideration at this point is paneling. While drywall is cheaper your attic is composed of odd angles. These odd angles attract damage, as people try to maneuver things around them. Paneling may be a bit more expensive initially, but in the long run you save a lot of work on repairing the small damages caused by furniture meeting drywall.
Plain drywall is boring to look at, so you will need to put your wall covering on. This may be paint or wallpaper. As a general suggestion try to avoid dark colors on your walls, it often makes a small room seem even smaller.
Step 12: Flooring
The flooring you choose now goes into place. The type of flooring depends on your budget and personal tastes. Remember that if you have an awkward staircase that large rolls of carpet or laminate flooring may be difficult to work with.
If you have an issue getting the flooring material up, consider a boxed alternative. If you want to avoid the cost of hardwood, there are several tile or luxury laminate options that give the look of hardwood without the cost.
Step 13: Finishing touches
Your last step is to add the finishing touches. This includes any molding you decide to put into place, door handles, fixtures, outlet covers. All the little things that go into making a room. Once you have all of the pieces in place you are only left with furnishing your room.
As much as it would be great to say that this step by step instruction covers everything it doesn’t obviously. A full step by step set of instructions would be a book of its own. While you go through the process there will be unforeseen issues, and problems that require moving forward in some places while others must wait. Your flexibility and ability to creatively solve problems will be your greatest assets.