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Oldhouseowner 08-02-2007 06:10 PM

Can I do this myself?
Hi everyone,

I am looking at building another bedroom in the attic. Ceiling height is very good so I don't need to touch the roof. I want to put 2 windows in the Gable side of the house and I belive I need to strenghten the joists up there and of course build a staircase.

From then on it is mostly framing for drywall and the like which I am quite comfortable with.

Here is the question: There is a severe shortage of builders out here (Vancouver - BC - the 2010 winter olympics are coming!), so I can get ripped of for a questionable job or I can wait until some good builder will finally make it to my house, could be years!

Provided I smart myself up on the local codes, get the appropriate permits and take some time off work can I tackle this myself?

Thanks a bunch.

Sammy 08-02-2007 09:12 PM

In most localities the homeowner does not have to have a contractors license to do work in thier own home but the permit is still required along with inspections. The key thing here would probably be making sure the area will hold the weight. After that, your good to go.

jiggyjack 08-04-2007 07:26 PM

Anything can be tackled. You did the right thing by asking advice first though.

It sounds pretty straight forward what you are doing.

The key sound to me like beefing up the Joists.
To do this take out the existing floor and cistern on at least 2 x 8's maybe more depending on the span.

With the staircase, make sure your header is strong enough to carry the new load.

The windows should not be too much of a problem just make sure you header them off. If they are gable windows you should not need much header at all.


Oldhouseowner 08-04-2007 09:56 PM

Thanks for the replies. I'll be attacking it sometimes this winter then, Just finished my fence this week and don't want to miss out on anymore beer-drinking-on-the-deck-time at the moment. :drink:

Old blown in insulation we can remove and we are ready to go.
The stairs are a bit daunting at the moment (Where the heck do I put a landing?) but I'll just have to read up on it until then.

Also the city staffers are on strike at the moment, which means no permits at this time (Funnily enough I seem to be seeing even more of a construction boom at the moment!).

Now so far I have not had to deal with the city about any of my renos (Mostly replaced existing features without major changes which don't have to be permitted). In your experience do they make you jump through all kinds of hoops just for the hell of it, or are they pretty reasonable if you treat them with repect, follow code and don't cut corners?

gregzoll 08-04-2007 10:27 PM

You could always send a help letter to Mike Holmes @ and see if they will come and do it for you. All kidding aside, how is the first floor laid out? Is there any way to use a closet for the stairs? I have an older bungalow, and the pantry is lined up with the basement stairs, but in order to put stairs in, we have to build a dormer above to allow for a person to not stoop down when entering the attic space.

Oldhouseowner 08-04-2007 11:39 PM

Do you think he'd come?
[QUOTE=gregzoll;56241]You could always send a help letter to Mike Holmes

Yeah, that'll be useful - a guy going around saying: "AH, Look at that, what were they thinking!". :)

The staircase should work from the kitchen up and then a small landing and a left turn up into the attic. Just not sure If that means the stairs to the basement might have to be nixed and rebuilt as well - I guess it depends on the measurements. I'm thinking of ripping out stuff for temporary access at first anyways and then measure once I have the actual space available. Hopefully it'll become clear then where I would support the landing.

gregzoll 08-04-2007 11:44 PM

Get yourself software such as Punch Software's Super Home Suite, or even the Architectural Series

I took our house, and measured out all of the rooms, laid it out with Punch, and then played around with a 2nd story redesign of our attic. Makes things a lot easier, and hopefully, your building plan commission will accept the plans, due to all of your callouts, and such are right there on the plans. The software will also tell you how much timber & drywall you will need.

Also, something like Microsoft Visio's works for laying out electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.

Oldhouseowner 08-05-2007 12:05 AM


That would make things a lot easier.
Thanks a bunch - I'll check it out.

Have a great summer


gregzoll 08-05-2007 12:21 AM

Mike Holmes is a more honest GC, then any that I have ever talked to or heard stories about. My Grandfather would of put most of these contractors nowdays to shame, and I really wish he was still around, due to I would not be in the situation of looking at $4,000.00 for a bathroom, and $4,000.00 for a new roof.

Oldhouseowner 08-05-2007 05:22 PM

Thanks everyone for your help. Will keep you informed once I start hacking away this winter.

Well, I guess Mike has his place. I'm pretty cynical about the DIY TV shows these days, I wonder how much of it is staged, and if these guys would be behaving the way they do if they had to actually fix homes for a living (Without the huge budgets and advertising sponsors). My gripe I guess.

Have a great time everyone.


gregzoll 08-05-2007 06:17 PM

From my understanding, Holmes does not have a budget, he actually goes after the idiot contractors, and gets the home owners monies back through testifying in court for the home owner. What gets me, is the amount of stuff that seems to get away by the inspectors not catching it, especially up north.

I am sure that it happens on this side of the border, especially if you are doing work that does not need a permit. Just make sure that you keep it within the local codes when doing work, and if ever in doubt, call an trades person to come and double check your work to make sure it is in code.

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