An unfinished attic is a great opportunity to provide needed living space to a home. Another bedroom, a dedicated office, entertainment or teen space can add a lot of functionality, convenience and enjoyment to a family's home. In addition, according to Remodeling Magazine's Costs vs. Value Report, converting an attic into living space often has a high return on investment – up to 84% for a full, well-done remodel.
If you are considering an attic conversion, as with all renovations, there are significant items, like architectural and building code restrictions, that are important to weigh during the decision-making stage. Here are some of the factors that merit full consideration:
Providing air temperature and flow control. Attics are often the hottest or coldest areas of the house during the year. Creating a comfortable, energy-efficient atmosphere will require insulation, a source of heating and cooling, as needed, and sufficient ventilation.
Learning local building codes and restrictions. There are usually requirements for floor space, ceiling height and access to the outside when adding a room to a house. Your contractor should know the codes in your area, and the required permits and inspections.
Minimizing low and sharp-angled ceiling areas. An A-shaped room may look cute or charming, but dealing with an angled ceiling can make using the room uncomfortable. A building contractor can help you find solutions for minimizing sharp ceiling angles and short walls.
Moving appliance and system elements from the attic. Appliances and system components in your attic, such as an HVAC unit or water heater, may need to be relocated elsewhere.
Weighing the pluses and minuses of adding a bathroom. A new bathroom means new plumbing and other costs. However, most homeowners who added a bathroom felt it was worth it in the end. An experienced professional contractor will help you make challenging decisions like this one.
Bringing in abundant natural light. Discuss adding windows, skylights and/or dormers to your attic with your contractor in order to allow as much natural light as possible to flow into your new space.
Covering the floor. Homeowners today love hardwood floors, but an attic living space is an exception worth considering. Covering the floor will help muffle noise that could travel down to the rooms below, and make it easier to use large floor pillows for additional seating.
Creating a large, fully finished space may maximize your return on your investment, when the time comes. However, providing additional living space for your family "now" will give you the highest value in terms of comfort, efficiency, convenience and enjoyment.