If you've got an attic, then you might have the perfect spot to create a homework den just for the kids. Younger children may need more supervision, of course, but for older kids and teens, a homework hideaway upstairs makes lesson time a little bit less of a chore. So are you ready for this attic renovation?
Back to school is upon us, and the house will soon be filled with backpacks and all the usual homework paraphernalia. With enough time and an attic with the right dimensions, tackling this could be one of the most worthwhile projects you take on this year.
With an Attic Renovation, Dimensions Matter
You can't convert just any old attic into a homework space. Before you make any major investment, be sure that the conversion of your space is feasible. This Old House refers to the “Rule of 7s,” which will help you decide whether it will work in your home.
The ceiling dimensions can make or break your project. Building code in most areas requires a ceiling that's a minimum of 7 feet high, with a total ceiling area of 70 square feet at that height. The remainder of the ceiling can slope as long as you meet those minimums.
You'll Need Safe Attic Access
A pull-down ladder might suffice for a storage-only attic, but a finished attic needs a staircase, especially since kids will be the primary users. The idea of stairs might stop some attic renovations in their tracks, but there are clever ways to add them to your home's existing floor plan.
A straight run staircase takes up less square footage on the floor, but it's difficult to fit this style into many homes without remodeling more than one room. Stairs with at least one switchback landing take more square footage, but the design is vertical so it doesn't intrude into other rooms. Your contractor can advise you on which style will work best in your home.
Maybe your home has stairs but they're unfinished. You'll want to confirm they meet building codes while you're planning your project as modifications can get costly. There was one attic renovation when I owned my handyman business, where the existing stairs had to be modified to meet code. The homeowner was working directly with the flooring company, and got upset about the unexpected cost.
Other Attic Requirements
A finished attic should be like any other finished room in your home. Insulation is critical, as are electrical wiring, flooring, drywall, and light fixtures. It also needs HVAC ductwork and registers. If you plan to add at least a half bath, which isn't a bad idea, you'll also need plumbing.
Storage along the walls gives your kids plenty of room for books, art supplies, and other homework essentials. Read: How Attic Built-Ins Provide More Living Space) You can even add a television and some built-in seating so they can enjoy the room after homework is finished.
Finding extra space in your home might only require looking up. Some homes have little more than low storage space overhead, but many more have high rafters and plenty of space to create a full-size room where kids can relax and take care of schoolwork. (Read: Homeowner Tips for Busy Parents)
An attic renovation is no small job, and you'll probably need to hire a contractor. Even if you've never thought about it before, we can help you gain confidence to hire the right one. Check out our ebook, “Finding and Hiring Home Contractors” today.