How Hard Is it to Build a Room in an Existing Attic?

Written by julie battern
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Adding an attic room can be a relatively inexpensive and easy way to add floor space to your house. Characteristics such as the attic's size, configuration and accessibility will influence how you go about building an attic room. These factors can make for easy construction -- or add to the difficulty of the project.

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Determining Weight-Bearing Load

Local building codes may specify what the weight-bearing load must be for an upper room. Check the local codes in your area. If your present attic does not meet these standards, building an attic room will require major reconstruction.

Access to Attic

A few large homes may have a stairway built to the attic. Most homes, however, access the attic through a small cutout in the ceiling of a hallway or closet. If this is the case in your home, determine if and where a stairway can be constructed. Constructing a stairway will require work both in the attic and in the floor below.

Present Attic Space

The size of your present attic will play a major role in determining the difficulty of adding a room. A small space does not necessarily mean that a room cannot be added. It will mean that at least a portion of the present roof must be removed and replaced with a new truss system and new roofing.

Roof Pitch

A high, steep pitched roof makes it possible to construct a room in the center of the attic. Using short side walls and dormer windows makes it relatively easy to add a room.

Insulation

If your attic is insulated with batting insulation laid out between the joints, you may be able to lay a subfloor above it. If your attic contains more than 6 inches of blown-in insulation, remove at least a portion of it before adding your subfloor. This is a hot, dirty job that requires wearing protective gear.

Subflooring

If your attic was originally constructed as a storage area, it will likely have a subfloor already in place. You may be able to lay your new flooring above this. If there is no type of subfloor, add one before laying any type of flooring.

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