How to Convert Your Attic into a Living Space

As newly built houses seem to be shrinking in size, you can still enlarge both new and old houses without adding a room. Yes, we are talking about converting the attic area into a proper living area. From a small study to a nursery, a revamped attic can serve numerous purposes, raining the property’s value in the process. Here are a few guidelines on how to successfully convert the attic into a living space.

What are the building codes in your area?

It is hard to provide you with concise advice when it comes to building codes because they vary from municipality to municipality, let alone different countries. However, the universal advice would be to check the codes well in advance because they stipulate the maximum height, width, and the total surface area of a converted attic.

The last thing you want is for a neighbour to turn you in for building an illegal modification of a residential structure. Get the required permits on time so you won’t get in trouble with the law later on.

Will the beams be exposed?

Another issue that you should resolve before you start hammering is whether the roof beams will be left exposed or will you cover them using drywall. The later solution costs more but it will allow you to install lighting easily. On the other side, leaving the beams exposed saves money and adds to the look of the new room, especially if the entire attic if made from timber (which is often the case).

Insulation is a key factor

The attic is the part of the house that is most susceptible to the weather conditions outside. In summer, it can get scorching hot inside, while it is too cold to stay upstairs in winter. Turning the attic into a living space involves installing some form of insulation to make the space suitable for longer residence.

The easiest but most expensive way to achieve this is to use spray foam. The alternative are insulation sheets but they are often hard to install. Whichever insulation method you decide on, be sure to insulate the floor of the attic as well.

Dealing with a possible termite infestation

One of the biggest difficulties in sprucing up your attic is the fact not many people have been up there over the years. As the saying goes, when the cat’s away, the mice will play but in the case of the attic, the “mice” are actually nastier.

There is a high probability that termites have invaded your attic and you’ll need to get rid of them before any carpentry work begins. An inspection and termite treatment aren’t particularly expensive, so you might want to hire professionals to check for rodent nests as well. Since you will spend hours in the attic from now on you don’t want to come face to face with a rat, do you?

The necessity of structural reinforcement

Most homeowners use the attic for storage purposes. However, once you start remodelling the attic, you start moving in heavy furniture the attic was not designed for. This raises the question of the structural integrity and static stability of the entire house.

In many cases, you will need to add structural reinforcement to the attic by strengthening the floor joists. Often enough, they are either set too far apart or they are simply too shallow, making them structurally inadequate for the attic’s new purpose.

Skylights and windows are a must

It might be awkward to install a window in an attic but this is mandatory if you plan to use the attic as living quarters. Skylights that can be opened are ideal for the attic space but you need to plan their position in advance. Furthermore, the execution must be impeccable as the slightest opening in the roof flashing outside will result in extensive water damage after it rains for the first time.

Converting the attic into living space is a great way to cost-efficiently increase the surface size of your home. The 6 points listed above will help you stay on track with the repurposing project, from installing insulation to getting rid of pests.

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