If you are finding that you need more space in your house, but you don’t want to move home, then you can always try to convert areas of your home to accommodate you and your family. Typically, many people convert their cellars or their garages, but one of the first spaces they look at is their attics. The attic is often the most logical place to start your house expansion as it is usually easier than having to convert a garage. However, there are a few steps that you need to take to make your attic into a living space.
Understanding the Space
The first thing that you need to do is assess the attic to see if it’s suitable to be converted. In most cases, there will be a big enough space to use, but it all depends on where the joists are. If you have joists that go across the attic below head height, then this will dramatically reduce the amount of space you can use. It also has to be the right height for you to be able to stand up. Otherwise, it will just make it awkward for people to use it. The size of the attic will also give you an idea of what you can use this space for. A small attic might be suitable for storage or perhaps a spare room, but little else. It is also important that you measure the joists to see if they are the right size to take the additional weight. If they are 2x4s or 2x6s, then they will need to be reinforced to take the load of furniture.
Get Expert Advice
If you are unsure about your attic, then you need to ask the assistance of a structural engineer or building inspector to assess your house. Not only can they check the attic for you, but they can also assess the outer walls of your home. You need to know if the additional weight of the attic will affect the walls or the foundations. It is usually possible to convert your attic, but depending on the house, it might require additional support which will, of course, add to the cost of the conversion.
Seek Professionals to Look at the Attic
Once you know whether your attic can be converted, you can then seek quotes from builders who are able to do attic conversions. They can take a look at the wiring, plumbing and the attic itself and tell you what they think needs to be done. It is an appropriate time to have a clear idea of what you want the attic to be. They can also check the roof for leaks or repairs that need doing first. If you want it as a spare bedroom, then you might need to have plumbing and waste pipes added to the attic. If it’s going to be a games room or living area, then you can have additional power sockets installed, though the wiring may need to be upgraded to cope with it.
Set Out a Detailed Plan
To make it easier for you and the builders, you should create a detailed plan of where you want power sockets, water, and toilets if needed. It will help the builders to plan where to put the cables and pipes before they start to box in the beams. Think about where all the furniture will go and any entertainment equipment. That way, you can have all the sockets in the right places. If you are planning to have windows added, then these also need to be thought out to see where you want them. An alternative could be to add skylights instead of windows. It will potentially give you more wall space then having windows.
Creating Easy Access and Exit
Because you are using a space that wasn’t originally intended to be used, the access will not be straightforward. If you are going to convert your attic, then you also need to create an entrance that is easy to use. Most people go for the staircase from the landing area below, as this is the easiest route. To save space downstairs, you can always add a spiral staircase, but you will need bigger access to get furniture in the attic. You should also be thinking about fire and an emergency exit that people in the attic can use. It might be that you will have an emergency ladder that you can deploy that will take you outside the building.
Fixtures and Fittings
Because you are creating this space from the beginning, it means that you can place things where you want them. It also means you can use new technology to help make the space easier to use. For example, you can install Z-Wave switches to make it easier to turn the lights on and off, especially at night if using it as a spare room. You might also want to extend the cable TV or satellite into the attic so that you can also watch the television up there.
Regardless of what you will use the attic for, you will need to have storage to keep things you don’t need. In an attic space, there are many ways that you can add storage space. You can have some built-in to the walls or the floors, or you can have storage under the bed if you have one. It is easier to have this storage built-in as you design and build the attic space, as it can be difficult later to get furniture into the attic. Another way to use storage wisely is to have one piece of furniture do more than one thing. For example, you can have a table that also converts into a bed or has storage inside it.
Depending on the size and shape of your attic, you can use it for a multitude of things. It is important that you assess your biggest need when you design the loft, as it can be difficult to change it later.