If you’re looking to expand the usable space in your home, look up. Likely, your attic’s space isn’t being utilized yet. Can you make it livable or more convenient to use?
Before I renovated my attic, the only things up there were old, dusty photo albums, other rarely used items, and lots of spiders. Working with a contractor, I was able to turn it into a combination of a new small bedroom and a storage area.
Let’s see some ways that you can turn your wasted attic space into something more usable. You may be able to transform it into a livable space as well.
Not every attic can transform into a stately bedroom. Some attics are pretty cramped due to the roofline cutting into your available headroom. That doesn’t make for a good living space, and it may not be up to your local building code.
So, stay grounded and think of other things that can make your attic usable. Can you install better lighting, a solid floor instead of a sub-floor, and maybe even close in any exposed framing?
This sort of approach will make it easier and more appealing to go and do things in the attic instead of thinking of it as a dusty, unfinished mess.
Your attic space probably lacks heating or air conditioning. It might not even have insulation. So, one way to make more out of your existing room is to upgrade all three.
Adding insulation is a relatively small expense that can significantly impact your heating and cooling costs. So, it’s a worthwhile investment over the long term.
The addition of heating and air-conditioning will make your attic space much more usable by controlling the temperature and the humidity. That means you can remain comfortable in your attic space regardless of the season and the weather outside.
Access, Windows, and Egress
If you don’t have a staircase that grants access to your attic, you may want to install one. Replacing that old pull-down ladder is probably step one for any attic improvement project. You might need to do some serious work to install a staircase, but it’s necessary for creating livable space in your attic.
If you don’t have windows in your attic, adding one or more is essential to open up the room and make it agreeable to live in it. Plus, windows are often required as part of the building code for bedrooms, as they serve as emergency exits.
Fit and Finish
Adding finishing touches like drywall, paint, and trim to an attic space can boost its appeal. Even if you aren’t upgrading to an entire new bedroom, adding some bookcases, a small closet area, and a built-in clothing rack can turn your cluttered attic into a neat, clean, and welcoming storage area.
Estimate, Plan, and Prepare
Out of all the things you do to make more of your attic space, be sure to talk to several contractors, asking each for an estimate.
Don’t be surprised if the costs are all over the place. Contractors tend to either pad their estimate or low-ball it, knowing that once work begins, you’re stuck with them.
It’s hard to change contractors mid-project, so make sure you are very much on the same page with your contractor, and you contact at least a couple of references before deciding to go ahead with any new contractor.
It’s also essential to protect your outdoor spaces from potential damage. Use access mats to protect your yard, lawn, and driveway from construction traffic.
Bottom Line: Could Your Attic Become More Usable?
With a little bit of ingenuity, you can optimize and integrate your attic into your home. Even if you have a limited budget, you can find ways to make more out of what is often a forgotten area of our homes.
If you don’t have enough pre-existing space in your attic to make it livable or easily accessible, consider opening up the attic floor and creating a loft ceiling in a room below. Use your imagination!