Running out of Room? Raise the Roof!

If you need more space but love the location of your house, think about renovating an attic space. Carving usable space out of an unfinished area is a great way to add value to your property and can make your home more livable for your situation longer. Plus, an attic renovation typically yields a higher return on investment than creating an addition. However, there are a lot of things to consider before deciding if an attic renovation will work in your house. Here’s a quick guide to get you started.

The first thing you’ll want to do is check the building codes in your area. Typically, there are minimum requirements for ceiling height. Often you’ll need a 7’ minimum ceiling height for at least 50 percent of the renovated area. You’ll also need to add a certain amount of windows that open for egress in case of emergency. Finally, you’ll need to meet minimum standards for staircases.

Once you have the codes, you can measure to see if the space you have will be able to be modified to accommodate those codes. Take the time now to evaluate the structure of the space, including whether existing support structures (floor joists and roof trusses) are strong enough, high enough, and meet code. Decide whether relocating electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems is feasible. Finally, consider whether adding access (like an indoor or outdoor staircase) is practical and would meet code.

When creating your budget, you’ll need to know how the expansion will impact your insurance rates, home resale value, and taxes. Your MetroTex Realtor can help show you how similar homes in your area will compare to your newly renovated home.

Your budget will also need to include changes to the systems in your house.  Will you need to relocate water heaters, HVAC systems and wiring? Does your electrical panel have space to accommodate the additional load of new circuits? Finally, make sure your existing HVAC system is capable of adding another zone or you may need to upgrade your system.

If you are adding a bathroom, try to locate it over an existing bath or kitchen. The goal is use as short as distance as possible between new and existing plumbing.

To make the space the most comfortable for those in it and below, fill in the bays between the floor joists with extra insulation. A quieter floor will be appreciated. Spend a little extra and add spray foam insulation to the ceiling and walls. Foam has a higher R value per inch, so you’ll get better insulation and save the space for your ceiling height.

The fun part is finishing out the space. Because the ceiling will be a major focal point, add interest with bead board, ship lap, or decorative ceiling tiles. Maximize the space by tucking cabinets, drawers, cubbies or bookcases along the low walls. Open shelving works great in awkward spaces.

If you’re considering renovating your attic, ask your MetroTex Realtor for recommendations for area contractors and architects. You may find a hidden gem right under your roof!