How to Plan an Attic Room Conversion

The attic is a horribly-underused space. Many homes do not even have an accessible way to reach it, let alone safe flooring to properly step on. Without a solid plan of what you want and how it will be handled, it can be incredibly difficult to even begin the process.

Having a solid plan, and preparing well, is a key part of all work like this. If you are ready to get your attic looked at, then here are some things to think about ahead of time.

Know the layout

Your attic is only going to have so much space, and some of that might be taken up with support beams or other important equipment. On top of that, it can be difficult to think about your attic until you know the actual layout and scale of what you are working with.

Take some time to think things over and work out how you plan to change the space. Do you just need to give it proper flooring, or will there be larger-scale work involved? How will people access it? How easy is it to get furniture up there?

Make sure you have a decent understanding of the layout and some basic measurements. Even if you can’t be exact, some rough estimates can help, especially if you do not have any professionals helping you yet.

Check for permits

Do you need any permits to change your attic? What about building codes? There are certain things that an attic must have to be considered a valid living or working space. While you can still make the changes, you will often have restrictions on what you can legally do with the finished space.

In some parts of the world, you also legally need to have staircase access. This means that you might not be able to keep the same ladder system, at least not when turning it into a full living space.

The permits can be an important part. Certain changes may require extra permits, especially modifications that change the shape of the house itself (like adding a dormer or knocking through a wall to replace it with something else).

Prepare a dumpster

If you have not ventured into your attic in a while, there might be a lot of things in there that need to be disposed of. The process of making an attic into a usable room can also be tough and might generate a lot of waste even if you are only doing basic work.

To get around that problem, look into hiring a dumpster before the work begins. This will let you get rid of almost anything without needing to stress too much over throwing it away, making it a lot easier to get the work done with minimal interruptions.

Remember that a rented dumpster is also delivered and picked up for you. If you are generating a lot of waste and throwing away a lot of old possessions, then this kind of disposal method is more hands-off. You do not have to take all the waste away, so you can focus on the work at home instead.

Think about other important requirements

An attic can be visually turned into an empty, clean living space, but what about the other requirements? These are things like wiring, heating, ventilation, safety, and anything else that might be needed to let people live, sleep, and work in your new attic room.

Many people forget to look into things like ventilation and heat, and having neither of those can make the space incredibly uncomfortable to use. There is also the fact that you might legally have to include certain pieces of equipment, especially if they are related to safety.

For example, many attic areas need to have at least one window – there needs to be a valid way to escape the house if something goes wrong, and ideally, some natural lighting. This can be extra work if your attic does not already have a window or lighting, but there are ways around it.

Finally, think about what you actually plan to do with the finished attic. You want a space that you can use for its intended purpose without anybody getting hurt, struggling to concentrate, or having to cram themselves into a cramped space. Tailor the plan to your needs and requirements.

Get Expert Help

There are a lot of details that you can’t judge by eye, including the limits of a space. An attic is likely to have a lot of limitations that you will need to follow, including relatively simple things like the amount of weight that the floor can support or the total height of the room.

In these cases, you should get experts involved. Even if you are only asking a more experienced family member, having a fresh pair of eyes on your plan can really help you figure out what you are working with – and the kind of restrictions that you might have to follow. The more you know, the better.

This can matter for technical changes, like seeing how much time and effort it might take to wire up certain appliances or get new lighting installed. These things are not easy to estimate unless you have experience in the field, making it difficult to guess. A bad guess might even damage the attic.

However, getting expert help is most important when making broad, sweeping changes to your attic. Installing a new wall, replacing the ladder with stairs, building a new window, or making other structural alterations will need an expert’s opinion to handle these properly.

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