People who have lived in their home for several years often wish they had more living space. There are various reasons for wanting a bigger house, but it is usually because their family has grown. This could mean that a single couple have become parents, or it could mean that their small children need more space as they become teenagers. Whatever the reason, most families prefer to stay in their present home and neighborhood with familiar friends and schools. The obvious answer would be to build an addition to their home or convert existing unused space to a functional living area.
Some homes are located in neighborhoods with restrictive zoning that would not allow the homeowner to build an addition, or the lot may not be large enough. This means additional space must be found within the existing home, so the homeowner must consider converting usable space in either the basement or attic to gain a bedroom or family living area. If the home is the traditional older two-story, the attic space probably is a better choice since the headroom in the basement can be low.
There are some important things to consider before making the decision to add a bedroom, bonus room and possibly a bathroom in an existing attic. There must be enough usable square footage and ceiling height to make the project worthwhile. Attic conversions are much easier to accomplish if there is already an existing staircase leading to the attic. A new stairway can be built, but it will increase the cost of the project considerably and also take up valuable square footage. The floor joists of an existing attic may need to be reinforced before creating the additional living area, and this requirement can substantially increase the cost of the project.
Most older homes with a third floor attic have only a few windows, and some do not have any windows at all. Adding gable windows is easier than installing dormers in order to install windows, Most conversions do require the addition of extra windows to provide natural light and also emergency escape exits.
Existing attic space can be converted to increase the usable square footage of a home at a lower cost than building an addition on the home. However, the cost will increase according to the features that are included in the project. Adding a dormer or two can transform a formerly small dark attic into a spacious bedroom with an en suite bath, or the area can serve as an entertainment area for kids. The new conversion area could also provide a quiet office area for a parent who works from home, or it could be a project room for family members who enjoy sewing, music or creating artwork.
Increasing the livable space of an existing home not only offers more comfort and convenience to the family, but added square footage also increases its value. Most home improvement projects end up costing more than anticipated, so the homeowner may need to apply for a home equity loan through their mortgage holder. After several years of paying into the mortgage, there is usually enough equity in the home to make this option possible.