With a tough real estate market, many people are choosing to stay in their homes and remodel to suit their needs, rather than move. A good remodeling can create customized space and increase resale value, while allowing you to stay in your current neighborhood and not have to uproot the kids from school.

One possibility when looking for additional living space might be lurking right above your head: your attic.

Attic conversions can offer several advantages over conventional room additions.

With a tough real estate market, many people are choosing to stay in their homes and remodel to suit their needs, rather than move. A good remodeling can create customized space and increase resale value while allowing you to stay in your current neighborhood and not have to uproot the kids from school.

One possibility when looking for additional living space might be lurking right above your head: your attic.

Attic conversions can offer several advantages over conventional room additions. They are already enclosed, which can simplify weather and security precautions during the remodeling and can often cut framing costs. And since there are no setback issues with an attic remodel, they may be easier and less expensive to get building permits and homeowners association approval for.

And let’s face it — attics are pretty cool. Their unique combination of angles, jogs, slopes and out-of-the-way corners can create rooms that may well become your favorite spots in the whole house. Your attic conversion might become a home office, a spare bedroom, a craft and hobby room, a kid’s playroom, a home theater, or an expansive master suite.

Proper planning is essential

In some cases, you may be lucky enough to have a "bonus room" in your house, which is essentially an unfinished attic space that was designed from the outset to be enclosed for living space. This is the ideal situation, since the framing has already been done with the necessary span and load calculations already taken into consideration.

For most people, however, it’s a little more involved than that. To achieve a successful attic conversion, you need to have an adequate amount of floor space and head room, as well as adequate structural framing. …CONTINUED

Depending on the height of the roof and the number of angles in the framing, a rough rule of thumb is that 1/3 to 1/2 of the floor space in the attic can be converted into actual living space. So, if your attic has around 600 square feet of gross floor area, you should be able to get approximately 200-300 square feet of floor area that will have useful headroom. The steeper the pitch of the roof, the more square footage you will typically be able to convert to floor space with good headroom.

Use dormers for more space and ventilation

A dormer is a space that is cut into the main roof of the house, perpendicular to the main roof’s slope. Dormers can be made in any number of styles and sizes, and they can increase usable floor space dramatically. A dormer also allows you to increase headroom as well as to add windows for light and ventilation.

Dormer design needs to be carefully considered. The size, shape, roof configuration, siding, trim and windows all need to match or compliment the existing home. A well-designed dormer can not only add to the livability of your attic, it can also enhance the appearance of your home. On the other hand, a poorly executed dormer stands out like a sore thumb, and can really detract from resale value.

Another challenge you will have to face with your attic conversion is providing adequate access. You’ll need to design and construct a stairway, which is subject to strict criteria from the building codes and can sometimes be a tough design task in its own right. Plumbing, electrical wiring, heating, air conditioning and ventilation also all need to be considered.

For a project of this type, you’ll probably need the help of a qualified designer, architect or structural engineer to get everything correctly laid out to satisfy the building codes. After that, you’ll probably find that this is a little too much of a project for the average do-it-yourselfer, so look for a licensed general contractor with lots of experience working with residential remodeling.

An attic conversion can be a challenging project, but done correctly it can also be a fun, exciting and visually stunning addition to just about any type of home.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com.

***

What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Prepare for this fall with top agents & brokers at Connect Now this Tuesday.GET YOUR TICKET×
Limited time: Get 30 days of Inman Select for $5.SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription