It’s one thing to dream up a cozy new attic nook for the kids or your guests; it’s another to plan it out and execute the conversion. Though attic conversions are a common home improvement project in Kansas, it’s not as simple as putting up new walls and laying down new floors. It takes thorough planning and trusted professional help to get it done.
Don’t worry, though. If you partner with the right people, an attic conversion can be a piece of cake. A well-thought-of attic bedroom — plus the fun that your family would have — would be worth the effort.
Our insulation installers in Kansas City have put together a list of things to consider when planning your attic conversion.
1. BUILDING CODES
Regulations vary from county to county, but most attic conversion building codes require:
- A minimum of 70 sq. ft. of floor space. You don’t want a room designated for rest and leisure to feel cramped.
- At least 7 ft. in each direction. This means the dimensions of your new bedroom must be at least 7’x10’. An oddly-shaped attic (say, a 3.5’ x 20’ rectangular space) isn’t a livable quarter. The requirement for a clear floor space is also so people can access the exit in case of emergencies quickly.
- At least 50% of the ceiling should be a minimum of 7.5 ft high. This ensures people have ample space to stand upright without hitting their heads on the roof.
- A sturdy, full-size staircase. This prevents accidents and enables a speedy exit in case of emergencies. Some codes require the stairs to have a minimum of 6’8’’ headroom; 10’’ deep threads, and 7.25’’ high risers.
- Windows. Some codes require another exit, like a window, to make the space more secure.
Your local contractor will walk you through the regulations in your area and explain the necessary renovations to make your future bedroom compliant and safe. Moreover, they’ll help process and obtain any necessary building permits.
If you haven’t paid much attention to your attic’s insulation, then now’s the time to do so. Proper insulation keeps energy bills to a minimum because it prevents the outdoor conditions from affecting indoor temperatures.
More importantly, insulation is crucial to the comfort of the occupants. Since you’re building a new bedroom, insulation must be tight and adequate. Otherwise, no one would get a good night’s sleep there.
Signs of Inadequate Insulation
Here are some signs that your attic’s insulation needs an upgrade:
- Ice Dams – If you notice sharp icicles lining your roof during the winter, your attic insulation might not be doing its job. Ice dams form when the snow that covers your roof melts, flows, and drips. The water, however, refreezes as it reaches the colder portion of the roof along the eaves. The result is a heavy build-up of ice on the ridges.
A common culprit of the melting-and-refreezing cycle that leads to the formation of ice dams is poor attic insulation. When poorly insulated, the warm air from your living area escapes to the attic and seeps outwards to the roof. The rise in roof temperature melts the ice and starts the process of creating an ice dam.
- Spike in Energy Bills – Noticed a spike in your energy bills, but haven’t added any new electrical appliance at home? Chances are your attic insulation is at fault. It might have leaks that allow warm air to escape or enter your home. In fact, about 25% of a home’s heat escapes through the attic and roof. As a result, your HVAC system needs to work harder to compensate for the loss.
- Water Leaks – Just as heat easily enters and exits a poorly insulated home, so does water. The issue with water leaks is that it’s a problem that steadily worsens over time. Moisture seeps in through the insulation, causing water damage and creating a viable environment for mold and mildew. Nobody wants that in a bedroom!
Our insulation contractors can check for other tell-tale signs of under-insulation.
Your Insulation Options
If you think that your attic needs more robust insulating solutions, A+ Insulation offers several kinds of insulation:
- Insulsafe SP Insulation – Apart from thermal efficiency, this insulation boasts sound absorption and minimal settling. Moreover, it’s non-combustible.
- Cellulose Insulation – This type of insulation acts like a liquid, covering obstructions and filling up every nook and cranny.
- Spray Foam Insulation – We do CertaSpray Closed Cell Foam Insulation, which fills up every little space in the area, effectively sealing off heat and air.
- Batt Insulation – Also known as blanket insulation, this fiberglass insulation is attached to a facing usually made of kraft paper, white vinyl, or aluminum foil. This is ideal for attics with few pipes or wires.
Our contractors inspect your attic and determine the right type of insulation for your new bedroom.
Proper ventilation keeps air flowing in and out of the attic, so it isn’t stuffy or have dank odors. It also releases excess heat or moisture from the attic.
Here’s a 6-point checklist to determine if your attic ventilation is adequate for a new bedroom:
- Does ventilation follow building codes? The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends a ratio of 1:150 ventilation space for the attic.
- Are there obstructions in the vents? Debris, like leaves, twigs, and dirt, clogs the vents, which makes ventilation inefficient.
- Is there moisture build-up? Proper ventilation keeps air flowing in the ceiling and provides an exit for moisture. If moisture is left to accumulate, it could be a sign that ventilation is obstructed.
- Is the attic uncommonly hot? Hot ceilings mean hot air is trapped inside, causing your energy bill to spike and creating discomfort for your family.
- Are the wood framings and walls warped? A hot ceiling can warp the wood framing and walls in the attic. It can also blister paint and wallpaper.
- Do all vents fall under the same system? It’s advisable to stick to the same type of ventilation for the home, whether that’s ridge vents, gable vents, or others. This ensures maximum efficiency.
Your contractor can determine if your attic has adequate ventilation or provide recommendations otherwise.
4. WIRING, HEATING, AND COOLING
There are many DIY videos online, but don’t get swept up in promises that it’s easy to do. Let your contractor handle the electrical wirings, so you’re sure that it meets code requirements. You also have the peace of mind that installation is safe and won’t delay the project.
Where electrical wiring is concerned, you have to go over these two things with your contractor:
- Outlets – Many bedroom attics have at least one outlet on each wall, and at least one outlet every 12 feet. This deters anyone of the household from stretching cords too far and creating hazards.
- Light Fixtures – It’s a tight squeeze in the attic, so save the chandeliers for the receiving area. Ask the contractor to install electrical wirings for recessed lights, which are tucked into the ceiling, saving headroom.
Have an HVAC expert inspect if your current heating and cooling system can carry the load of another room. They can recommend if your attic needs additional ductwork installed.
If that option exceeds your budget, ask your contractor for other heating and cooling solutions, like mini-split systems.
Pay special attention to these two architectural elements, which are unique to attics.
Attics have angled ceilings, which make for a unique bedroom. You can either change the slope of the roof or make the most of the angled feature.
- Change the Slope – If you want to change the slope of the ceiling, consider a mansard or dormer conversion (which are popular loft remodeling projects in the UK). A mansard conversion extends the slop of the roof to up to 72 degrees, which dramatically increases headroom. Meanwhile, a dormer conversion creates a vertical wall and horizontal ceiling protruding from the roof.
- Highlight the Slope – If you think the angled ceiling adds to the charm of the bedroom, then highlight this architectural design. Experiment with paneling with different types of molding. Or install skylights, which flood the room with a healthy dose of sunlight and makes the space more breathable.
Attic floors were built for storage, which means they can withstand static weight. It’s possible, however, that the original builders didn’t build the floor to carry the load of a bedroom.
In this case, the attic (if you have a nice space, guests and playmates would want to see them) will experience a lot of movement. Plus, you need to take into account the beds, drawers, lampposts, toy boxes, bookshelves, and other bulky items you’re adding to the room’s decor. Have your contractor check that the floor is structurally sound.
Then, decide on your flooring. Many homeowners choose carpeted floors for their attics because of their sound-proofing capabilities. Since the attic floor is your living quarters’ ceiling, it’s best to cut down the noise of treading feet.
Once you’ve gone over these essentials, you have free rein over the final design of the new bedroom. Build a castle-themed room for your little princesses, create a winning nook for your future sports star, or keep it fresh and minimalist for your guests. You’re the boss.
An attic deserves to have a touch of your personality and taste — even if you have to comply with several structural and safety measures before you get that creative freedom.
Let’s build a comfortable new bedroom in your attic. Contact A+ Insulation for efficient attic insulation in Kansas City.