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What Are the Different Types of Attic Renovations?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 April 2019
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    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Attic renovations can include improving the energy efficiency of the space, or turning into an extended area for living and entertaining. Energy improvements may include insulating the space, and making it more fireproof. Creating additional rooms and living areas is significantly more difficult and costly, and often involves installing drywall, building a sub floor, and cutting windows into existing walls. Depending on the type of work performed, homeowners may need to consult with a local contractor for labor requiring specialized skills.

Homeowners with small attic storage space may wish to consider energy efficiency attic renovations. This type of updating and repair work can improve the flow of air circulation throughout a house, and reduce the amount of money the owners spend annually on energy consumption. All ceiling areas and support joists which separate the attic from the living portion of the home should be thoroughly insulated and checked for any possible air leaks between the attic and the uppermost floor. Loose fill or blanket insulation are typically recommended for this type of work.

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Roof ventilators or gable fans can also be installed in this area to improve air flow through the attic. Ventilators and fans are installed into openings cut into the roof of the home, or into the already existing space of an A-frame gable. They operate using the electricity of the house, and work to circulate hot, moist air out of the attic and draw in cool, outdoor air. These units should be surrounded with water resistant seals that prevent weathering elements from entering the attic space at the installation site.

When performing attic renovations to improve its energy efficiency, homeowners may also wish to update the area's safety standards as well. Large storage items, such as cardboard boxes and wooden pieces of furniture, should be centrally located in the space on top of attic decking, and moved away from walls and ventilation shafts. Attics crowded with dry paper, wood, and clothing based materials can catch fire more quickly and burn longer than those which maintain a minimum amount of open space. All electric wiring run through the attic should be completely sealed in insulating tubes or electric tape. Any heat conducting vents, such as chimneys and stove pipes, can be surrounded by metal flashing to ensure that they do not come in contact with storage items or insulation materials.

An attic may also become a secondary living space in homes with an adequate amount of ceiling clearance. Most local regions maintain home construction guidelines that dictate the minimum amount of clearance that must be achieved in an attic space before it can be used as living quarters. These guidelines may also apply to the types of access used to reach the attic, and dictate that any installed stairs reach a minimum width and step height. Homeowners can benefit by checking these local building and residential codes prior to planning any major attic renovations.

Homes with sufficient clearance for both the ceiling and stairway access can create additional bedrooms or living rooms in the attic. Several windows must typically be cut into the walls of this area for this type of renovation to comply with fire safety standards. In addition to insulating the floor, homeowners will also wish to insulate the walls and roof properly before installing drywall. A secondary central heating or cooling unit may need to be placed into the space to regulate temperatures throughout the year. This type of work may need to be completed by a construction professional, or can be performed by homeowners with an advanced knowledge of home renovation repair.

Some homeowners may also wish to include a bathroom in their attic renovations. Adding this type of room to an attic transforms the area from a renovated storage area into a fully functional top floor. The walls and floor of the bathroom can be completed in a manner similar to other attic rooms, and will require the installation of insulation, drywall, and a subfloor. All pipework can be connected to the existing plumbing and waterlines of the house, and should typically be performed by a professional. Fixtures may then be attached to exposed pipework and surrounded by floor and wall tiles to suit the homeowner's preference.

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