Exploring Attic Renovations

Exploring Attic Renovations

There are typically two reasons to consider an attic renovation for your home. “The first involves improving energy efficiency of the space, and the second involves utilizing the space as a new living area,” said Paulette Sodemann, designer with Callen Construction.

Usually energy improvements with the attic space involve high quality insulation and enhancing fire resistance. Alternatively, transforming the attic into an extended living space is a more extensive process, but it allows homeowners to increase their living area while incorporating their own tastes.

If your home has a smaller attic space, you may want to consider renovations that improve energy efficiency. “Not only could this update improve air circulation throughout a home, but it could save homeowners money on their energy bills as well,” said Paulette. When thoroughly insulating your attic space, you need to pay particularly close attention to any areas where the attic is separated from the living area of the home by ceiling and support joists. It’s also wise to check for air leaks between the attic and the highest level of the home. Blanket insulation or loose fill are highly recommended materials for this job to significantly improve energy efficiency. Homeowners should also consider installing roof ventilators or fans for better airflow in the attic. They work by circulating warm, muggy air out of the attic while drawing cool air in.

On the other hand, homeowners with larger attics can transform the space into a living area of their choosing. For instance, a bedroom renovation is one of the most popular types of attic conversions. When you consider the unique shape of an attic, it’s easy to see that the space is ideal for a child’s bedroom. “You can take full advantage of your distinctive attic space when decorating to really accentuate the architecture of the room,” Paulette said. Plus, children don’t have to worry about practicing extra caution when maneuvering their way around a room with a sloped ceiling. If you have older children, this space is also optimal for teens that wish to have the privacy of their own room and the independence that goes along with it. This space could also serve as a spare bedroom for guests. In this case, you may want to consider adding a bathroom, but be mindful to situate the bathroom above an existing bathroom for plumbing reasons.

Another common attic makeover is a recreation room. The attic is a fitting entertainment space and your design options are limitless, from a colorful and bright children’s playroom to an adult-sized game room. “The slanted ceilings allow you to really bring out your creative side and spark your children’s imagination,” she said. For instance, you can incorporate intriguing pieces of furniture and chalkboard walls for endless fun. If you wish to create a room specifically designed for adults, this space is more than suitable for an entertainment loft featuring comfortable seating, gaming and other entertainments systems, a pool or Ping-Pong table, or even a bar.”

Need a quite place to get more work done? Well, an attic space can be turned into a home office. In this case, you’ll want to be sure to plan for proper lighting and windows. It has been proven that natural light has a direct impact on our mood and motivation. Plus, it’s always refreshing to have the windows open from time to time to circulate extra air into the space. “When installing windows, it’s important that they are well proportioned and align with the overall look and feel of the house; an operable skylight is always a nice touch to consider,” Paulette said. As mentioned previously, it’s imperative to select high quality insulation to ensure that the space is quiet, so you can stay focused on your tasks.

In some cases, attics are peculiarly shaped, making it somewhat of a challenge to renovate them for traditional use. So, if you’re looking for a more exclusive redesign, a home theater is an excellent option. Converting your attic space into a home theater is essentially like adding an extra living room, so everyone in the household can watch their favorite show or movie without having to argue over the remote. “Remember to install high quality insulation and soundproof flooring to greatly reduce the noise in your attic,” said Paulette. If you really want to feel like you’re at the movies, you can add some dimmer lights and install a surround sound system in the crawlspace behind knee walls. For extreme comfort, think about integrating casual seating into the space, such as oversized floor cushions.

If you want the attic space to be a little more personal, you may want to contemplate a walk-in closet. This is perfect for fashion lovers or homeowners who have a reach-in closet in their master bedroom that is no longer adequate. “Shelving can be installed for your footwear and extended railings can be added to display your entire wardrobe to make everything easily accessible,” she said. You can also incorporate wallpapered panels on the ceiling for added style. For that custom walk-in closet feel, think full-length mirrors and sizeable upholstered ottomans for seating.

Attic renovations are an excellent option if you are in need of extra space, but prefer not to do a home addition. It is typically a less expensive option that gives you the freedom to customize the space to serve your individualized needs,” Paulette said. “So, before you decide to simply use your attic for storage purposes only, consider transforming it into a unique space that not only expresses you or your family, but also adds value to your home.”



Adding Up: An Attic Conversion Planning Guide

Callen Blog -  Attic Conversions 062716If your family is growing and you need extra space, or you would simply like to expand with a home office or hobby room, you might be considering a room addition. However, with the cost of a room addition ranging in the tens of thousands of dollars, it may be wise to first take a look at your attic and see if it can qualify for an attic conversion.

Be Aware of Rules & Regulations

As with most building projects, there are a multitude of building codes and regulations to consider before doing an attic conversion. They may vary slightly from place to place, so be sure to ask your Callen representative about building codes for your community.

  • Adequate space. Your attic room should have at least 70 square feet of floor space, with half of the usable space having a ceiling height of at least five feet, and the other half being 7-7.5 feet or higher. There must be at least seven feet of floor space in each direction, so the room at minimum should be 7’ x 10’.
  • Strong floors. For your attic floor to be strong enough to support a habitable room, it must be able to bear a load capacity of 30 pounds per square foot. Callen, the leading remodeling company in Milwaukee, is familiar with and responsible for following the codes that will ensure a strong floor.
  • Safe stairs. An attic being used as a living space must have a structurally sound staircase to allow access to it. It must be at least 36″ wide, with treads 9.5-10″ deep. Risers should be 7¼- 7¾” high, and the stairs must allow for 80″ or more of headspace.
  • Exit points. In addition to stair access, an attic must have another point of egress to meet fire safety codes, which means that you will need a window that can be opened in case of an emergency. The size and placement of attic windows is regulated and local codes must be consulted before installing.

If you think your attic may be a candidate for a conversion and you’re looking for advice from the best remodeling company in Lake Country, look no further than Callen. We know the codes and will have you well on your way to a new living space before you know it! Call us today at 414-529-5509.



Living the High Life: Attic Conversions

Callen Blog - Attic Conversions 051616If you are like most people, your attic is a dusty place full of unused furniture, old clothes, and other odds and ends that you are reluctant to throw out. There is a much better way to make use of this space, however, by converting it into an office, bedroom, playroom, or cozy nook for reading or watching movies. Here are some hints and tips to keep in mind if you’re considering an attic conversion.

  • Read up on building and safety codes. Converting your attic into a safe and functional living space can be tricky. Before you decide on an attic renovation, you must first make sure that your attic will be able to meet current building codes. Minimum ceiling heights must be determined, the strength of attic joists checked, and the placement of windows, dormers, and staircases decided, along with many other requirements. As the leading remodeling company in Brookfield, Callen has knowledgeable designers, project managers, and building professionals to help you navigate what can sometimes be a confusing process.
  • Minimize noise. Chances are the attic is right over the living room or someone’s bedroom, which means even the smallest of noises is magnified in the rooms below – especially if you’re using the area as a TV room or playroom. To combat this problem, blown-in dense-pack insulation can be added between thick floor joists. Installing a thick carpet and pad can further block sound. You can even go with a quick fix by adding some area rugs.
  • Finish and protect. Attic ceilings tend to be low and slanted, so you see much more of the ceiling than in other parts of the house. Make your ceilings eye-catching with beadboard or wood panels. Beadboard panels install easily for a classic look, while bare or stained wood paneling will make your room warm and homey. These methods of finishing your ceiling not only look great, they also protect the ceiling from dents and scuffs.

If you have a space in your home that needs a transformation, whether it’s with basement refinishing in Greenfield, WI, a kitchen remodel or a total attic conversion, Callen Construction has the experience and know-how to make it happen for you. Give us a call today at 414-529-5509!



Attics Offer Opportunity for Usable Living Space

DSC_0090By Jeff Billstrom

Homeowners who have a Cape Cod or story-and-a-half residence typically have underutilized space in their attic.  Often, when the decision is made to convert the attic, a master suite is the desired outcome.  But conversion attics also make ideal spaces for a kids’ playroom, home office, craft room, or home theater.

Converting an attic is more than just drywall and insulation.  Mechanicals – heat, warm air and cold air, as well as any plumbing if a bath is to be added – need to be routed.  Often it’s not difficult to do, just a consideration when planning for a conversion.  When running ducts and piping, we look for spaces, such as closets on the first floor, which we can utilize strategically to minimize disruption.

Usually the first thing I look for when visiting a home is access to the attic.  Some homes already have usable stairways to their attic while others may have the pull-down steps or maybe nothing at all.  There are some options for constructing stairways.  One is using the space where the basement stairs are.  We can design steps that directly mirror those going into the basement, only up the opposite direction, thereby not wasting square footage on the first floor by putting another stairwell in.

The other thing to consider is making sure windows are sized properly.  There are codes for a percentage of natural light into the living space.  We can make an existing window larger, add a dormer or skylight.  If there is a flat roof adjacent, we can create a walk-out onto that roof.  The other important thing with an attic conversion is making sure there is egress – another means of exiting the area.  This too can be accomplished via flat roof walkout, or a skylight.  As mentioned in a previous blog, skylights come in two styles, a roof window and a balcony roof window.  A roof window has a 45-degree opening angle for maximum ventilation.  A balcony roof window allows the window to open out to create a small balcony.  Plus it can also be used as an emergency exit.

Before we can drywall, we need to insulate.  Usually we are installing drywall on rafter surfaces, which are part of the roofing system.  Typically, those aren’t deep enough or large enough to accommodate fiberglass insulation to meet code, so we use spray foam, which allows us to finish the space without changing that rafter system.

An attic conversion makes good sense economically because the structure is already there.  You are not having to put a foundation in, you are not having to put a new roof over it; it’s just a matter of converting it to a livable space, and making sure that it is conforming to code.

When you are thinking that you have outgrown your home, consider the attic for livable space.  We will be glad to come to your home and explain how it can work for you!