What’s your attic doing these days? If yours is just sitting up there doing nothing, take a moment to imagine all that potential living space just waiting for you.

A finished attic bedroom, in particular, adds value to your home. It’s like a private and spacious suite, removed from the rest of the household. Who wouldn’t like that?

And if you spend moderately, at around $10,000 to $15,000, you could get back up to 90 per cent of what you spent if you sell, according to information published at the Do-It-Yourself website.


The problem with an attic room is that spending moderately may be difficult, depending on the conditions in your attic.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an attic that is high and spacious enough, is structurally sound, and hopefully, has a set of serviceable stairs, you’re well on your way. If not, you’re looking at extra costs, which may make the project less palatable.

If your conditions are good, you’ll only be paying for the basics, such as adding insulation (and this is critical in a space notorious for being too hot in the summer), framing and installing a ceiling and walls, perhaps building or improving stairs, improving windows on the vertical walls, adding wiring, plumbing and flooring.

First of all, note that if you have V-shaped support posts (called trusses) from the floor joist to the rafters, you may have to look elsewhere in your house for extra space. Trusses block useful space in an attic, and cannot be easily removed without compromising the structural integrity of the house.

What you’re looking for in the attic are strong, frequently-spaced rafters extending all the way up to the peak without interruption. Sagging and water staining probably means you will need to do repair work to fix any weakened wood, and fix the source of the leak.

If you don’t have enough head room, you can still renovate your attic, but the cost will reflect the major structural work of raising the roof or part of it, or building a window tower, or adding dormers a window that projects vertically from a sloping roof. (The cost of this work will vary enormously, depending on the specific conditions at your house. Get advice and quotes from several reputable contractors.)

Dormers also have another great advantage in that they allow natural light, a real plus in a space that does not usually contain a lot of windows. Skylights are another way to introduce natural light.

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for TV show Arresting Design; sputz@arrestingdesign.com.

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