Attic renovations are increasingly done to extend a home's livable space

Apr 11 2011

Changing an attic into livable space requires construction improvements to meet building codes.
Changing an attic into livable space requires construction improvements to meet building codes.
A recent survey by the Home Improvement Research Institute found that one out of five homeowners polled said they were planning to renovate their attics into livable space in the near future.

"And some are getting fancier about it, turning attics not only into extra bedrooms or home offices but screening rooms, gyms and even lofty meditation retreats," stated SmartMoney.com.

The website reported that the cost of attic renovations has gone up by 36 percent in the last five years as homeowners tackle a variety of new uses for old attics. But their return on investment also has jumped as much as 10 percent as those seeking new homes see the advantage of a large, remodeled space.

But an attic re-do requires construction improvements to meet building codes, such as a full-size staircase for entering and leaving the new space and a minimum 6-foot, 8-inch clearance overhead, according to ThisOldHouse.com. A second way out, which can be a window, is also needed for fire safety.

The rest of the living area must have at least 7 feet of headroom, although sections of the attic that have lower clearance can be used for storage. Another consideration is the floor support, since attics in newer homes aren't built for living space. As a result, attic floors need to be reinforced with added joists and a new subfloor.

Adding windows, ceiling or window fans and air conditioning will address heat and moisture that naturally rises within a structure. But for additional energy savings, homeowners will find cellular shades are a good choice because they offer good insulation from window drafts and strong sunlight. They come as both single cell shades or double cell shades, with double cells offering more insulation for rooms that need more protection from the elements.

SmartMoney.com reports that contractors aren't just getting customers who want to renovate their attics. They are also fielding more requests to finish basements, enclose porches and convert garages into livable space. "Homeowners have become more practical about their housing choices," the website states.

Whether it's because a recent college graduate is moving back home or a room suite must be created for aging parents who can't maintain their residences any longer, the need to reconfigure living space is expected to be a trend among homeowners for some time. "Adults usually cohabitate best when everyone’s got some privacy," Smart Money reports.
 
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