How do I Choose the Best Attic Design?

Ken Black

Choosing the best attic design involves looking at what you want to use the space for, and planning accordingly. In many cases, the design, or redesign, of an attic may be limited by several factors, most having to do with space constraints and equipment. Having a plan going into the remodel or building phase offers the best chances at coming up with a quality result.

Attics often have smaller windows.
Attics often have smaller windows.

First, when choosing the best attic design it is necessary to determine what practical use an attic may have. If there is enough room to stand up, and still have a little headroom, generally seven feet (2.1 meters)from floor to ceiling, it can be used as living space. If there is a lower clearance, some attic design options may still exist. For example, it may make a good storage room. While most attics are used for storage, the attic finishing process can make the area much nicer, easier to access, and suitable for a wider variety of items.

A top-hinged roof window allows for escape in case of emergency.
A top-hinged roof window allows for escape in case of emergency.

Second, if the attic is being remodeled, consider what obstacles have to be dealt with. For example, the running of ducts for the air conditioning and heating system in an attic will not only lead to unsightliness, but also less usable space. It may mean use as a practical living space is nearly impossible without changing the system to ductless air conditioning system. Such a conversion can take place, but will add significantly to the expense. The best time to determine if that expense is acceptable is during the attic design phase.

Next, if the attic is to be used as living space or a space for daily use, the next job is to determine exactly what type of use it will have. The design implications for a home office will be different than a bedroom, as an example. If the use is as a home office, the lack of windows, or smaller windows, may be fine. For a bedroom, an individual may want to consider larger windows that allow in more natural light.

Finally, choosing the best attic design also means looking at any added features that a user may want to include. For example, putting a bedroom in an attic may also lead to placing a small bathroom there as well to make nightly trips more convenient. Since most attics do not have water, this may mean additional pipes for water and sewer lines need to be run to the upper regions of the home. The same goes for electrical wiring. These are all major projects, but can make the attic much more usable in terms of living space.

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