by Dan Fritschen

If you are considering finishing your attic to provide more living space, there are important issues to address.

The attic may provide additional living space for your home. Photo by Carrie Qualters

To begin with, you need to know if the attic itself and the floors below it can support the added weight from your remodeling project. This is especially important if you will be adding a bathroom. You would be well advised to get technical assistance from a certified home designer or an architect for this.

Another issue to take into account is how to provide adequate access to your new living space. Almost all attics are now designed with no permanent or easy access. Creating access to the attic will normally require some alterations on the floor below. How will you fit a staircase in? Will you use standard stairs? Will there be a turn with a landing? Or will you choose a spiral staircase?

In designing your attic remodel, start by considering your space needs. Do you need an extra bedroom? Is a bathroom necessary? Could you use the space as a playroom, a den or an office? Do you need a storage, as well as? Should you opt to divide the attic into multiple rooms, how will each area be accessible? When you are looking at the space in your attic, bear in mind that the parts where the roof comes down low can be used creatively, perhaps for built-ins or  for storage.

The next significant decision regards the lighting of the new area. Will the slope of the roof permit a window? Can you construct dormers with windows to provide extra space and bedroom? Can the windows be used as emergency escapes? We have an article on dormers that will help you determine the appropriate look for your home: “Add Space with Dormers”.  Once you have decided about windows and skylights, you can approach further lighting considerations as you would the other rooms in your home.

To get ideas for your attic, review attic remodeling ideas in magazines and books and online. You can also visit newly-constructed homes to see how they use the attics space for bonus rooms, hobby rooms or extra bedrooms.  You can search this website for further articles, like: “Attic Bedroom Ideas – 6 Tips to Make it Fantastic“.

Two other things that you might find helpful are our Attic Remodel Workbook and our free calculator, which will help you estimate the costs of your attic remodel.