How to Make the Most of Your Attic

Posted by Gurpreet Ghatehora on Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 at 11:58am.

n older homes especially, attics are becoming part of the home. What were once musty storage areas possibly filled with mice and quickly becoming great places to gain some extra square footage in your home. If you’re thinking about renovating your attic, here are some things to consider and watch out for. With these tips, your renovation could go much more smoothly, and the space itself could be more usable.

1. Check the Weight

Most attics have bare bones floors that can’t support a child, much less a complete bathroom. Before you even begin to think about renovating, it’s important to get a professional in for an assessment. Professionals can determine what kind of work needs to go into the structure and flooring to ensure the space can be usable. Without their opinion, you could start a project that can never safely be completed. Of course, the other part of this is getting the right permits and codes to do the work as well. Without those, you could be in a lot of trouble.

2. Insulation

While attics are becoming more and more popular in much of Canada, Edmonton’s been slow for one very important reason: it gets cold here. Attics are typically under insulated, which can lead to different problems for the home even before you renovate. You’ll need to properly insulate and vent the attic for your renovations long before you start on much of the other work. Without proper insulation, it could make your home utilities much more expensive, all while being generally uncomfortable as a space to live in.

3. Windows

Most attics don’t have windows. If they do, the windows are often small and mostly decorative. If the space is going to be used regularly, however, you’ll need windows and maybe even skylights. Because of Edmonton’s short winter days, you’ll want to maximize the natural light. Windows that open will help keep it cool and clean in the summer, too. In every instance, you’ll need windows to make the space more welcoming and more livable.

4. Staircase

Most attics in Edmonton are sealed off with a trap door, not a staircase. This is not a feasible solution if you’re planning on using the attic regularly, so you’ll need to consider where the staircase will go. Knowing where to put it will largely depend on the space you have available and the type of staircase you want. An open concept home, for example, could save space and maintain the aesthetic with a minimalist spiral staircase. A larger home may want a beautiful wood staircase instead.

Attics require a lot of forethought before you actually start renovating, but if you clear up the big choices early, everything else will be much easier. Start by seeing if renovating the attic is even legal and feasible. Then, think about the space: how you want to use it, where it will get its lighting, and how you want to access it. Once these questions are answered, you can start to focus on the renovations themselves.

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