The Essentials
Did you know that your attic offers you the opportunity to add livable space to your home without going through all the hassle (and expenses) of an addition? It’s true! With a little hard work and elbow grease, you can turn your currently unused attic into a new master suite, a game room, a rec room, a home office or anything you wish!

You will need a permit for this project. You’ll also need a zoning check and a site plan. You may also want to hire a building inspector or a structural engineer to check things out and make sure your attic can actually be converted.

The Plan
Some adjustments will need to be in order for the attic transformation to take place.

First, does your attic have a floor? The framework will most likely need to be reinforced to make sure it can hold up against walking and everyday furniture. You may also need to reinforce the roof to make sure it can hold up insulation. Speaking of which, you’ll need to insulate and ventilate this space. A separate system can be installed in the attic for heating and air-conditioning if your current one won’t work.

Building codes require the room to be seven-and-a-half feet over 50 percent of the living area. Cramped does not mean cozy, and if you have to crouch in your new living space, you probably won’t be using it much. Make sure the ceiling height is tall enough. This can be altered. You can switch out a hipped roof with a gabled roof (like the roof of a shed) or dormers. Not only do these alternations add height, but usually windows as well.

You will need to make sure your attic gets enough light so it doesn’t feel dark and tiny. Dormers allow you to add windows. You can also install skylights and/or artificial lighting.

If you are going to be using the attic, you’re, of course, going to want to have it easily accessible. For this, you can use an existing staircase or install a new one. If there’s already a staircase leading to the attic, make sure it’s structurally sound. If not, you can install a traditional staircase. You can also install a spiral staircase. Whichever you choose, there are certain requirements you’ll need to meet to make the staircase up to code.

The Work

All of this work can be done yourself, or you can hire a contractor to do the heavy lifting. It all depends on your budget and how much you have to spend. Don’t forget to figure out a budget before you start this project, and try your best to stick to it! Also, make a plan before you start anything so you can figure out if what you want is feasible.

As long as it’s possible to convert your attic, then there’s no reason to ignore the potential living space up there, just collecting dust. Turn it into something great and enjoy!

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