Thinking of getting your attic converted? An attic conversion can be a great way to add extra living space to your home – it’s cheaper and easier than an extension. It could be a chance to add an extra bedroom, adding value to your home. Alternatively, you could turn it into a home office or even a large upstairs bathroom.
Whatever your plans are, here are some of the steps you’ll want to consider to ensure that your conversion goes smoothly.
Set a clear budget
US homeowners spend an average of $64,000 converting their attic, however more basic conversions can be done for $40,000. Affording this amount may require taking out a home improvement loan. If you’ve got a low credit score and don’t want to pay high interest fees, it could be worth looking into no credit check financing. You may also be able to remortgage your home to pay for improvements.
Figure out how much you’re willing to spend and how you plan to accumulate these funds.
Most attics are used as dumping ground for clutter. Your first step will be to clear all this out, either by relocating it, selling it, donating it or throwing it away. Give yourself enough time to sort through all the clutter. If you want to sort it out at a later stage, you could always move it temporarily into self-storage.
Once your attic is clear of clutter, give it a good cleaning so that there’s no little cobwebs or dust. These rooms may never have been cleaned while you have been living there and so could require some heavy dusting and vacuuming.
Consider the roof height
If you want your loft to be classed as a legal living space, it will have to meet certain requirements in terms of measurements. Most local codes require at least 50% of the attic to be 7ft tall. If your attic is smaller than this, you may have to consider raising the roof.
This can be costly and may require seeking planning permission. An architect will be able to suggest the best way of increasing the height within your budget.
Consider fire safety
Local laws may also require you to meet certain fire safety regulations. Ideally, any livable space needs to have stair access – a ladder alone will not do. You could try adding a small interior spiral staircase leading up, but it could involve sacrificing part of another room if you don’t have a large upstairs landing. An alternative option could be to build an exterior fire escape – whilst cheaper than an interior staircase, this could require planning permission because you’re building outwards.
Your loft space may not be insulated in which case you may want to invest in some insulation. About 25% of a home’s heat loss occurs through the roof – insulating your loft could therefore help keep the whole house warmer longer and save you money on your heating bills. There are various ways to install insulation including spray-on foam, insulation boards and thermal wool. The spray-on option is the most effective, but requires a professional and is the most costly.
If your loft contains mold, it could be because moisture or rainwater is leaking in. Aim to get your loft completely sealed up and then scrub away any current signs of mold. Adding an extractor fan or a dehumidifier could help to prevent moisture build up and prevent mold. This is important for the health of anyone living in this space.
Your next step could be to add electrics. Some people try to save money by trailing extension cables up into their loft, but this can be dangerous. You’re better off getting an electrician to install some sockets and light fixtures. In particularly gloomy attics, you may want to add multiple light fixtures to help illuminate the space.
Add heating and cooling
Once the electrics are fitted, the next step could be to think about heating and cooling. Loft spaces can get very cool due to being more exposed to wind, but they can also get much hotter in the summer due to rising heat from the home and direct sunlight from above. You could install electric HVAC in your loft to take care of heating and air conditioning. Alternatively, you could hire a plumber to install some piping and radiators – this could cost you less to run than electric heating, but more to install.
Fix up the flooring
Attic flooring is usually pretty basic and may be nothing more than flimsy floorboards. Consider fitting a new floor that’s sturdier and less creaky. This could be laminate wood flooring or carpet – it’s really up to you as to what you prefer.
Make use of natural light
An advantage of a loft space is the ability to add skylights allowing natural light to flood in from above. This can be a great way of brightening up a gloomy attic. You could also consider adding bay windows. A bay window that protrudes could also give your attic more space as well as bringing in extra sunlight.
Considering an upstairs bathroom?
If you’ve been considering an upstairs bathroom, you’ll also need to invest in extra plumbing, tiling and bathroom fixtures such as bathtub and toilet. This could all be quite expensive, but could add a lot of value to your home in the process. Getting a bathtub into an attic is no easy feat and you may be best off using a crane and potentially taking a window out or taking part off the roof off. You should ideally hire professionals to install plumbing as this is a big job.