An attic space can offer a blank canvas for exciting loft conversion plans like that air bnb attic apartment rental idea you have always dreamed about. You can use the space to build a large, open bedroom or frame it to create a master suite.
Existing elements such as exposed brick or wood can be combined with new materials to create a wide range of design themes.
Unfinished attic floors are generally plywood or wood planks. After ensuring the existing floor will carry the weight of a new room, you can install hardwood, laminate, carpet, tile or other flooring to suit your taste. Dividing the attic into multiple spaces can provide an opportunity to mix flooring materials as appropriate. Applying a layer of sound-dampening material below your flooring can help reduce sound transmission to lower floors.
The ceiling of an attic bedroom is commonly constructed by adding insulation and drywall to rafter areas or installing a suspended acoustic tile ceiling. Both drywall and acoustic tiles can be painted to match your design theme. For an unfinished look, painted spray-foam insulation can be applied to the exposed roof to provide insulation and noise reduction. Wood planks or paneling used as ceiling material can add a rustic feel to the bedroom.
Adding wall covering directly to roof framing will create a larger room, but some of the space may offer very low clearance. Framing vertical walls will provide a more traditionally shaped room, but can result in a smaller finished space.
Attics are not generally designed as a living space and may lack natural light. Adding windows will brighten the space, make it seem larger and provide ventilation. Skylights can be a natural choice to illuminate attic bedrooms. In areas where the ceiling is low, recessed fixtures can provide light without limiting headroom.
In some cases, extending air vents into an attic bedroom may not be practical. Installing a portable room air conditioner, baseboard heater or wall unit can provide temperature control for the room without adding additional strain on your heating and cooling system.
Bedroom Vs. Suite
Depending on the size of your attic space and needs can dictate your Loft Conversion Plans, you may decide to upgrade your bedroom plans to a master suite. This space could include a bedroom, large walk-in closet, sitting room and bath. Space for a home office or workout area could also be included.
Exposed brick or stone from a chimney can used as a natural, unfinished looking accent wall. Older ceiling beams can be left exposed to give your bedroom an Old World feel. Refinishing original wood floor planks can provide an inexpensive alternative to installing new flooring.
Getting a new Vienna VA attic remodel can significantly increase the livable area in your home as well as your property value and capacity. To many, the attic is an unclaimed portion of their home ready to be converted to bedrooms, baths, or even rec rooms.
While it may appear that this transformation would involve no more than some flooring, insulation, and drywall, attic remodels are fairly complex. As discussed below, there are many factors that can affect the headroom of the new living space including new floor systems, insulation and rafter size. While a professional remodeler can explore your attic’s potential, a good rule of thumb is if the existing distance between your attic floor and ridge (peak) is less than 8’6” increasing the roof height will most likely be required. The minimum finished ceiling height of living space varies from town to town but often falls between 6’ 8” and 7’6”. Further explanation of those factors that can limit your Vienna VA attic remodel and the headroom of your finished attic and other code considerations are explored below.
1. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR CEILING AND FLOOR JOISTS. More times than not, the floor structure of an existing attic is actually a ceiling joist. Typically, ceiling joists are 2×6 or 2×8. They are designed to carry only the weight of the drywall (or plaster depending on the age of your home). Once we look to make the attic livable space, the existing ceiling joists usually will not meet the structural requirement for a floor. There are many factors that will determine what kind of new flooring system will best fit your home’s existing structure while making your floor code compliant. While contacting a qualified design professional would be the best first step in determining the necessary floor structure, a variety of approaches are discussed below.
2. TWO WAYS TO CREATE A NEW FLOOR SYSTEM. Sistering, installing new larger joists next to the existing ones, is one way to bring your attic floor up to code. Positioning the new joist adjacent to the existing preserves precious ceiling, but it does come with some potential complications. Often, existing joist bays are filled with electrical and heating ducts that will need to be relocated.
Engineered Floor Joists provide increased structural reliability and are not susceptible to crowning, bowing, or shrinkage that is sometimes associated with dimensional lumber (2x10s, 2x12s etc). With the improved performance and reliability, engineered joists sit atop your existing ceiling joist and often span from one outside wall to the other. This typically allows existing mechanicals to remain and does not put any increased burden on existing load bearing walls or basement beams. An added benefit to the engineered joist is that it allows for complete flexibility in the bath and mechanical design as the joist can be engineered to allow for new plumbing and mechanical runs (no longer have to stack new baths directly over existing).
While each flooring system has advantages and disadvantages there are other factors that may play into which system is the best fit for your Vienna VA attic remodel.
3. STRUCTURAL STAIR SYSTEM NEEDED. Once a qualified builder determines the best approach to securely construct the attic floor, it is important to determine how you will access the new space. In older homes, the attic stair is often narrow and steep which will no longer comply with today’s codes. In the event where the new attic floor requires increased structure, an existing attic stair will no longer land at the floor level as the new joist will be taller than the existing. In the majority of cases, a new stair and structural opening will be required. Determining the stair’s pitch, structure and location are fairly complex, so consulting a qualified design-build firm is paramount.
4. PROPER INSULATION IS KEY TO CONTROLLING VARYING TEMPERATURES.
How do a space that reaches 150 degrees in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter transform to your new living space? Insulation, insulation, insulation. Over the past several years there has been an increased focus on making insulation codes more stringent. Current insulation code requires R-49 insulation in the ceiling. When using fiberglass insulation (the pink stuff) the attic roof rafter will need to be at least 16” deep. In an older home, a typical roof rafter can range between 2×4’s to 2×8’s. In order to create a deeper cavity for the insulation, it will be necessary to attach wood framing to the existing rafters through a process called “furring”. In addition to some of the structural considerations mentioned earlier furring can further reduce your existing attics headroom. Spray insulation, while costly, can achieve increased R values in smaller cavities and therefore can occasionally avoid the need for furring.
5. WHAT ARE THE BUILDING RESTRICTIONS IN YOUR TOWN? Every municipality has a set of guidelines that regulate the shape, size, and position of your home. It is essential to check with your municipality to determine that the newly habitable area will fall within the established zoning code. Beyond potentially maxing out the allowable square footage (often called FAR or Floor Area Ratio) in some cities, including Chicago, if the attic is a third floor two sets of stairs is often required.
6. CAN YOUR EXISTING MECHANICAL SYSTEMS HANDLE THE ADDED SPACE?
As mentioned earlier, attic space is susceptible to extreme temperatures. Existing HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), systems are sized for the existing home; therefore tying the new space into the existing system is often not possible. While a new HVAC system can be an unanticipated cost, there are added benefits including simplified duct runs and the ability to independently control the temperature. Beyond HVAC, it is also important to determine that your home’s existing plumbing and electrical can withstand the additional outlets, lighting, and bath fixtures.
7. DON’T FORGET TO LET THE LIGHT IN. Every room in a home, whether a bedroom or living room, has a stated light and ventilation requirement. The required amount of light and ventilation varies by the room type (for example, bedrooms require more than dining rooms). Light and vent requirements are met by adjusting the amount and size of the windows. Often, the amount of exterior wall space in an existing attic is scarce. Therefore, locating windows and determining room layout becomes a delicate balance for the proposed Vienna VA attic remodel. Additionally, it is important to research your municipality’s egress requirements as certain rooms such as bedrooms will require windows to meet certain minimum clearances.
Call us at (703) 570-6777 if you’re in the market for a new Vienna VA attic remodel or if you would like to discuss your options with us. We will help you make the best choices for high-quality materials as the project progresses. You can also contact us here or get more information on our Facebook.
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