Making Your Attic Livable

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When looking for a little extra space in their home, most people would look to the attic if they have one. But it’s not always obvious where to start when transforming dark, possibly damp and maybe even dirty spaces into warm and livable environments.

Playroom in the attic

The first thing to consider is when you go to your attic, are you alone?
Attics are common places for animals. They are often dark and warm, with plenty of boxes and other odds and ends for rodents and other animals to find shelter. Not to mention that attics are the least used parts of the house, so potential renters can be pretty sure they won’t be disturbed that often.

To make sure you don’t have any unwanted tenants, clear out all your belongings so you can take a look at the room itself. As you move the contents, you often notice things like rodent droppings, chewed cardboard, holes in the wood, or ripped insulation. Always wear gloves when handling potentially contaminated material or cleaning up feces to prevent it from getting on surfaces used for food. If you have an infestation, call a pest controller immediately.

Assuming the unwanted guests have been evicted, you must ensure that you seal any openings that are present to prevent any more from moving in. It’s usually pretty easy to figure out how they got in, but sometimes it can take some extra sniffing.

It doesn’t actually go without saying that your attic can be converted into a livable space. Most areas have a minimum headroom to classify a space as habitable. To avoid heartache later, check your local building codes to see if your attic is classified. Once you’ve got the green light for the free space, you need to make sure the floor doesn’t collapse once you’ve got all your nice furniture up there. The best way to find out quickly is to call a professional for a full structural analysis.

Empty attic

This gives you a clean space with enough headroom that won’t collapse under the weight of your sofa. Excellent! Now you can turn it into a space you really want to be in. First, you need good light and ventilation, and luckily both can be achieved through the same thing.

Depending on the structure of your attic, you’ll want to let in as much light as possible so it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. Attics tend to be quite small spaces, so lots of natural light makes them appear larger. If you have the budget, a dormer window is a great way to increase the level of light, fresh air, and usable space in your attic all at the same time.

Beautiful white attic

Another point that well-meaning DIY enthusiasts often stumble upon is the electrical system. As with building codes, electrical codes differ by area, so be sure to educate yourself on the restrictions you will face. Essentials like carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors need to be linked together to alert the whole house in an emergency. Any new wiring you install must be protected with circuit breakers.

Once all of that is out of the way, you’re one step closer to transforming that wasted space into the office/relaxation room/TV lounge of your dreams. Just one last tip: in any case, make sure that the sofa you want to buy actually fits up the stairs!

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