Things to Consider Before Remodeling Your Attic

Published November 14th, 2022 by Rose Building Contractors, Inc.

An attic is a very versatile room. Sadly nowadays, most people just use it as extra space to store unnecessary or seasonal items. However, with just a little bit of work, your attic can become much more than that. For instance, it's a cost-effective way to add a usable second story to your home. You might want to use it as a family entertainment room or create an in-law suite/guestroom. Relative to the available space, you could technically turn an unfinished attic into any room you want. If you plan on making sure you are getting the most out of your home, we've compiled a list of things to consider before remodeling your attic.  

Should I do it?

The first of the things to consider before remodeling your attic is whether you should even be doing it in the first place. This is a huge question, so let's separate it into a few smaller ones to make it easier for you.

What is the construction like?

Checking the construction of your attic is pretty simple. You can even do this step by yourself. Go up there, turn the lights on, and look at its support beams. Most commonly, you will see one of two things: 

  1. There will be a network of trusses in the shape of a W to support your roof. In this case, you should start looking into building a home addition since it would be a much cheaper option than renovating this type of attic; 
  2. There will be rafters that go in a sort of A shape with free space underneath, supporting the roof. This is basically a green light for you to keep considering a remodel.

Do you have a place to store your things during the remodel?

Remodeling your attic creates a lot of debris and can easily damage your furniture and other possessions. That's why one of the most important things to consider before remodeling your attic is where you'll store your things during the remodel. You might want to take your belongings there if you have a garage or an outdoor shed. However, renting a short-term self-storage unit is the best way to go if you want a safe space for your things while it's happening.

Is there enough headspace?A construction worker taking measurementsIt’s important to measure the headroom in your attic so you can check whether you’ll even fit in there once the remodeling is done.

In most cases, construction standards will demand a room to be minimally 7.5 feet tall. This height has to cover more than half of the area of the floor. Of course, this varies locally, so your best bet is to consult a professional. Don't forget to consider the finishing materials' thickness when measuring headroom.

Consider safety codes

Of course, enforcement of safety codes varies from state to state, and every attic might comply with those differences. Let's go through the two main things that you should check with your contractor:

  1. "The rule of 7" – This means that a finished attic will, in most cases, have to be at least 7 feet high. The area will have minimum square footage of 70 and must be at least 7 feet wide. This is why it's essential to bring in a professional when checking these things. Not only will they help you realize how your attic fits into that criteria, but they will also give you some ideas about modifications that can mitigate minor shortcomings;
  2. Structure checks – utilizing attics for more than a bit of storage is generally a new concept. Most older homes are not adapted to carry all the extra weight from the furniture. When you hire an engineer, they can help you inspect the home's foundation and framing so you can be sure that your attic will be able to carry the added load. They will also advise you on strengthening the attic's floor so that you can be sure everything will be fine.

Making the most out of the design

Now that we've got that big question out of the way let's go through the more fun design-related things to consider before remodeling your attic. 

Separate your attic area into zones when remodeling
A cozy reading nook in an atticOne of the most important things to consider before remodeling your attic is how you’ll use your space by creating separate areas for different activities.

Suppose you're trying to make the small space in your attic work well and have a good flow. You really need to spend some time considering its layout. Having separate corners and nooks for different things is very important. And one of the best ways you can do this is by utilizing room dividers. 

An excellent example would be a bookshelf that doubles as a wall separating the bed and a reading corner. This way, you can also add extra storage, which is always crucial to creating a living area in a small space. However, this can be as simple as using different colored/textured rugs to give off the feeling of separation. You might want to use part of the area as an office space which you can use to accommodate your growing small business in your home. 

Soundproof the attic floors when remodeling it

Even simple things like walking around in the attic can cause a stir in the rooms below it. That's why a crucial part of remodeling your attic is adding a soundproofing system. You can do this in a couple of ways. For instance, you can get your contractor to install stronger floor joists. Or you can fill the bays with densely packed insulation. Of course, there are also low-budget options, such as carpeting or rugs. This is a straightforward fix for a very serious problem. 

Go for minimalist decoration with light neutral tones and minimalist designA man sitting in an attic where the remodeling was done in a minimalist styleA minimalist style and light neutral tones can open up the space even in smaller attics.

Making sure you paint everything from your walls and ceilings to the floorboards in a light neutral hue will help even the smallest attics look and feel more spacious. We recommend avoiding pure white since it can make your attic feel a bit lifeless. You should be good if you go for some warm neutrals, such as cream, ivory, or a light beige.

The main reason for doing this is that bold or darker colors can make a small room, such as an attic, cramped. Another tip is to avoid natural wood beams on the ceiling. The warm tones of wood will always make you feel a bit claustrophobic. Especially if it's contrasted with the rest of the room.

Final thoughts

We really hope that this list of things to consider before remodeling your attic has helped you make the best choices for your upcoming attic remodel. This is a big job, and the outcome should be as rewarding as possible. Remember that your attic is a very sensitive space. Damaging it can create many problems. From causing your roof to leak to damaging your home's insulation system. That's why it's always best to leave the remodel to the pros as much as possible. Some DIY projects here and there are fine, but you definitely shouldn't try to do everything on your own.

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