Attic Remodels Offer Top-Floor Value

If you’re feeling more than a little frustrated about running out of living space don’t hit the ceiling. Maybe just punch a hole through it – verrry carefully.

We’re talking about reclaiming unused attic space to create an additional bedroom and bath. If this sounds like something worth your remodeling investment, the experts agree. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2011-12 Cost vs. Value report, the attic bedroom project made the top-ten list for the third year in a row. Nationally, the project ranks third in expenses recouped after resale. In Colorado, the attic bedroom conversion ranks as the top project for return on investment coming in at 76.4 percent ROI, up from 65.5 percent in 2010. This outpaces basement remodels, bathroom additions, deck installations, new garages, kitchen remodels and more.

Attic remodels are popular because they avoid expenses associated with additions, such as costly excavation, foundation work, roofing and extensive framing. They also offer an economic alternative to purchasing a larger home to gain extra space. And although proper permitting is required for an attic remodel, you can avoid zoning restrictions because the project stays within the home’s existing footprint

If you’re serious about converting your attic into a bedroom with bath, it’s important to consider the following:

>Professional help. At minimum, consult a professional architect and engineer before you start any attic remodel. They can quickly determine if your attic is a good candidate for a conversion. If it is, they will ensure your plans have the proper trusses and ceiling joists to support the heavier load of a finished attic. Once you understand the anticipated work and costs associated with your specific project, you can make better go or no-go decisions given your budget and desired outcomes.

>Building codes. Although you might be free from certain zoning restrictions, you must still comply with building codes. These codes are designed to protect homeowners, and will dictate proper ceiling height, adequate joist support, and appropriate ingress and egress options (i.e. how you will access the space).

>Accessibility. And speaking of ingress and egress, an attic bedroom requires a standard staircase with hand railing so your plans must accommodate this necessity, as well as include proper windows. Attics can be dark, so when adding windows think about including solar tubes, skylights or dormers.

>Necessities. If your remodel includes a bathroom, you will need to: connect water drain and supply lines to the existing system; and, install proper electrical circuits including a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI. For heating and cooling, it may be more cost-effective to install a separate HVAC system for the attic rather than tie into the existing system.

If you need extra living space there’s no need to hit your head against the wall. With careful planning, you can knock through the ceiling to create your dream attic remodel and increase the value of your home. Now, that’s using your head.

Click here to view our column in the Coloradoan, Building Solutions.