Finishing An Attic In The North? Temps? - Remodeling - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 02-23-2014, 07:02 PM   #1
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finishing an attic in the north? temps?

So, I recently purchased a new home in michigan. Older home, built in 1941. The attic is quite large, 1000sqft, setup like a perfect cross, high ceilings. Theres even a place I could put in a staircase.

My question is about moisture and insulation. My general understanding is that you insulate the attic floor, seal all intrusions, ect. ideally keeping the attic unheated so that snow does not melt and refreeze causing ice dams.

If I finished the attic... that would not be possible, at least not by that method.

Is it a bad idea to do this or is there a solution?


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Old 02-23-2014, 10:41 PM   #2
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It is done all the time in almost every cape-cod style home.


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Old 02-24-2014, 07:40 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by bauerbach View Post
Is it a bad idea to do this...?
How much do you need that floor area beyond the storage it was meant for?
If you're just looking for something to do your time and money will probably be better spent dealing with something else around the property.
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:01 AM   #4
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A whole lot of things need to be considered before doing anything when converting an attic into living space.
#1, Zoning, adding a bedroom then zoning and the health dept. get involved. Septic needs are rated by number of bedrooms not bathrooms.
#2, Floor joist size and spans. Most attics where built to only hold the ceiling up, a few for light storage, but not strong enough for living space.
#3, Window size, there must be windows sized for egress in case of fire.
#4, Must have a code compliant real stair case that meets run rise, hand rail, headroom, width codes.
#5, Must meet percentage of room size head room in the rooms.
#6, Must meet at least min. insulation codes which often involves having to build down the rafters to allow for room for baffles from the knee walls to the roof venting.
#7, Have to figure out how your going to heat and cool this area and add the needed wiring. It's often easier to add a small sub panel so your only dealing with running one wire from the panel box to the second floor. But it can not be in a closet or bedroom.
Going to need several permits, what's needed depends on what your local code office requires.
No one will be able to even guess what's needed because you did not add your all important location to your profile. You can fix that by going to quick links to edit.
When posting in forums, letting us know your location will help others give better feedback/advice/solutions to your questions
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:26 AM   #5
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Ice dams come from heat escaping from the top of the wall with a cold eave, or a hot roof with a cold eave, or both.

These spaces are finished all the time.
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:45 AM   #6
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I appreciate all the info so far. It is in Detroit michigan, I was really looking at it as a bonus room of sorts. The house already has 6-8 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. I would have just finished it into 1 large room to use as an office, or storage, or home theatre, or whatever else. When I went up there during the home inspection I was surprised at how big it was, wide open, and completely unused. How often do you get the opportunity to have a 1000sq ft loft for the price of some wood, flooring, and drywall.

I have plenty of other things to do, but I figured if it could be done with anything as simple as flooring, insulation, and drywall, it might be worth it. I know I need to reinsulate the attic, so if this were a legitimate possibility, it might contribute to that decision. I know the hvac sizing would be a factor, but as I plan to install HVAC to the existing forced heat, I could easily account for the additional space.

You know how it is though, new house, you go through a thousand ideas and I will probably have bigger fish to fry like adding a master bathroom suite... hopefully.
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:55 PM   #7
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Nothing is ever as easy as it seems. With that many bedrooms I would work on utilizing the space you have now. Maybe taking down a wall between bedrooms to create a bigger space. An extra 1000sf would be nice but after spending $10k-$40k and then an extra $100+ a month in peak of winter and summer heating/cooling plus whatever your taxes goes up. It might not be worth it.


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