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matulch 11-21-2012 03:00 PM

1925 brick Bungalow attic project

I have a 1350sqft home and am looking to add a bedroom and maybe a bathroom to the attic. My dream is to turn this.

The height in the middle is 8'6" roof rafters are 5.5 in
Into this

or this

The good news is I my attic has good access.

It also has a floor with 2 by 8 " rafters 16oc Floor width is ~23ft
Still need to figure out if there is a support wall in the center. I think there is because the rafters overlap in the middle of the floor.
It does not look like the floor was finished maybe I can paint the floor white?

So what do you think, does my attic look like it has potential?

Just Bill 11-22-2012 07:45 AM

For terminology sake, the things under the floor are joists, the things holding up the roof are rafters.

Check local building code. 2x8 may not be big enough, depending on the span and support under. Also, I see no collar ties between the rafters. The purpose of collar ties are to prevent the roof from trying to collapse while pushing the walls out. Height may also be an issue, with most codes requiring a min head clearance of 7'6". I see old doors standing up. Doors are usually 80" high, indicating that you may have to raise the roof. Stairs may have to be modified. Make sure you add emergency egress.

DrHicks 11-22-2012 08:49 AM

I love your house! I absolutely love the craftsman bungalow style. My daughter & son-in-law just bought one almost identical to it, except theirs is not brick. Their attic is finished, though the previous owners did not use the best of workmanship. The finished attic adds about 450 square feet to a house whose main level is 936 sf.

You can certainly finish your attic, though you really need to sit down and figure out whether it's worth the cost. Heating and cooling will be a big issue, and (based on seeing old wiring) you'll need to update your electrical. Check all local codes, and try to estimate what the improvement will do to your property taxes. Most contractors are going to be "less than thrilled" with this project, due partly to the difficulty of getting materials up there. So unless you're doing a lot of the work yourself, it may be cost prohibitive.

Everything should be fine structurally, provided you don't go wild with porcelain tile or anything. These houses were designed with the assumption that the attics would be used for more than just storage. The 4' half-walls will actually stabilize your roof just a bit. Adding a half-bath might be a good option.

Let us know what you decide. :)

matulch 11-23-2012 05:43 PM

Thanks for the comments. I think min head clearance will not be an issue unless I need to put in collar ties.
I started to draw out the layout in google sketchup.

As for emergency egress there is a dormer on the south side of house. I am thinking about replacing this window with a larger one and maybe making the dormer taller, right now the head height on the dormer is a little over 7 feet.

As for taxes, based on my last home appraisal cost model if I add 500sqft I would add $9,000 to my home so taxes would go up 5%. Not sure what the half bath would do, need to look into that.

oh'mike 11-23-2012 05:59 PM

I've seen a couple of those with finished attics-----I liked the results---keep us posted----

We will help you avoid the pit falls----When you get the project started one of the moderators will move this thread to 'project show case'

I look forward to your build----a word to the wise-----just install temporary ,easily removed stair rails until the drywall is stocked up there.


AndyGump 11-23-2012 06:44 PM

I design this kind of addition (and it is an addition) for people a lot.
The very first thing you need to do is to have a good set of well designed plans. You may or may not need the services of a licensed engineer as well as a person to create your construction documents.
Architects as well as other residential designers (non-architects) can do this for you and find out if you need engineering or not.
I would suggest not bringing on-board a contractor until you have an approved design and are ready to pick up permits for your project.
Once you have the approved design then you can distribute construction documents to the contractors and they will be quoting the work to be done all from the same documents. Then either you or the contractor can pull the permits.


md2lgyk 11-24-2012 06:56 AM

Ambitious project! Are you planning to DIY it (some or all)?

Looking at the picture, I think you will most certainly need a larger window to satisfy egress requirements.

matulch 11-24-2012 08:32 PM
Here is a photo of the dormer window. The window is 3'9" by 2 feet. If I replace this window with one that opens I will have 7.5sqfeet window opening. The only problem is I have a Rafter in the way.

I am planning on doing the project DIY except the engineering documents.

oh'mike 11-25-2012 06:17 AM

Add your location to your profile please---you will get more accurate suggestions based on your snow load--insulation and local codes.

Removing the rafter section that is blocking your window will be easy after you double or triple the rafters
on either side and add the needed framing to support the cut rafter.

matulch 12-31-2012 12:16 PM

I live in St. Joseph, MI

Here is my insulation plan.
I already have blown cellulose insulation under the floor.
The attic does not have any vents or soffit, So I am thinking I should keep it that way and do a unvented Attics

3 x 2" XPS foam in middle of room with spray foam edges.
4'x8'x2" is on sale for $21.34 at manards

I would also add fiberglass insulation to the knee wall space behind a layer of 2" XPS foam

similar to the technique used by this guy

What do you think?

Gary in WA 12-31-2012 09:22 PM

Did you contact your local building department yet? You have your own state code based on the IBC.

This from another similar "I" code, the IRC; "R305.1 Minimum height. Habitable space, hallways, bathrooms, toilet rooms, laundry rooms and portions of basements containing these spaces shall have a ceiling height of not less than 7 feet (2134 mm).


1. For rooms with sloped ceilings, at least 50 percent of the required floor area of the room must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet (2134 mm) and no portion of the required floor area may have a ceiling height of less than 5 feet (1524 mm)." From:


matulch 01-10-2013 03:12 PM

I looked up the Michigan building code and found that the height for Habitable space is 7'6", and 7' for bathroom / kitchen


1. For rooms with sloped ceilings, at least 50 percent of the required floor area of the room must have the required ceiling height.

Based on this my room would look like this.

Not what I was thinking

Does this mean I can't build an attic bedroom?
Or can I build it wider Just not count the sq footage for the area outside of the photo above

123pugsy 01-10-2013 06:24 PM

Measure up 90" to the rafters on either side of the ridge and make a mark.

Then measure across between the marks and double the size to see what you get.

If you have a high peak, you'll get more than what the example shows.

matulch 01-10-2013 06:38 PM

I re-calculated the room width and got the same results. Both methods give the same answer.

Gary in WA 01-10-2013 07:36 PM

Your egress window figuring is wrong. The measurements need to be per code, not total rough opening available.You need to subtract the window jambs and sill/head flanges for net clear opening area only. Call around locally for egress windows per your rough opening, may need to enlarge the hole, if AHJ allows room size;


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