Make a Plan to Make It Grand: How to Turn the Attic Into a Living Space

If you're ready to turn your attic from a storage area to a bedroom, home office or other living space, here is what you need to know & tips on how to make it happen. 

Refurbished attic

Wish your home had more space but not looking to spend six figures to make it happen? Look up instead of out. Attics provide the prime opportunity for expansion. In fact, it’s pretty common for people to figure out how to turn their attics into living spaces when they want a more budget-friendly space-gaining option — with a sizeable return on investment. If you’re ready to convert yours from a storage area to a bedroom, home office or other living space, here’s what you need to first take into consideration.

1. Consider your area’s building codes and regulations.

Did you know a room has to have a certain amount of floor space? Ceiling height? Access to the outside? From the beginning of the project to the end, building codes and regulations will rule every decision that is made when converting an attic to a room. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time because the space won’t be safe, usable or durable. Get in touch with a local building inspector to get a list of all of the applicable codes and required permits and inspections to ensure your attic fits the bill.

2. Think creatively about how to get the most out of the shape of your space.

Got odd room angles? Keep those in mind when designing your space. Sure, an A-frame may look fun, but its sharp angles may actually make everyday living not so fun. Consult with a licensed contractor to determine ways around the odd angles, like building short walls (called “knee walls”) or dormers with built-in storage options.

3. See what needs to move out of the way (we’re not just talking about holiday decorations).

Before you start moving those dusty boxes and unused furniture out of the way, consider what else is currently taking up space in your attic. Is your roof supported by rafter beams — which is fine for the remodel — or trusses (the W-shaped framing) — which may make the remodel a no-can-do? Do you have appliances and system components housed in the attic, like a hot water heater or HVAC system, that will need to be relocated? To make the most out of your conversion, every existing element must be evaluated.

4. Now see what needs to be added.

Unfortunately, determining whether or not you want to add an adjoining bathroom (which means getting a licensed plumber involved, of course) isn’t the only other decision that needs to be made. Rather, you need to consider the current state of the insulation — it’s probably just on the attic floor versus the walls and ceiling — and flooring, too — it’s probably not meant to handle very much weight and constant walking. And what about wall and ceiling materials, windows, electrical and the appropriate access from below? All of these decisions need to be made before you even begin to think about paint colors and decorative accents.

Your best bet? Try not to get overwhelmed. It really will be worth it in the end. Simply take these factors into consideration and get all of your ducks — or ducts, rather — in a row. Then, work with the right professionals to make turning the attic into a living space an exciting reality.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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