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Old 02-23-2007, 12:13 PM
 
Location: Waupun, Wisconsin
323 posts, read 1,870,249 times
Reputation: 133

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We've purchased a 100 year old Victorian that's in great shape, but the attic is unfinished. My wife wants to insulate and wallboard the attic to turn into her "play" space - sewing, painting, reading, etc....

Are there any significant drawbacks to doing this? We don't mind the minor updating of the house - the lower floors are still very much in keeping with the character of the home - but we don't want to do anything that might cause structural or finish work problems down the road.

Here's the home:


and here's what the attic currently looks like (the doorway in the center leads to the turret):
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Old 02-23-2007, 02:28 PM
 
Location: Chattanooga TN
2,349 posts, read 9,955,447 times
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Drat! I can't see your pics. Anyway, what size are your joists? What is the span? That's the best place to start and the most dollar consuming IMHO. If you have 2x6 joists, you may need to beef them up. It depends on the span and your local zoning codes. Are you going to get a permit? Do you need one? I think 2x6 can handle a 10' span but please double check. The best place to start is your local hardware store. I prefer Home Depot or Lowes. They have that book rack you can devour and get tons of info. Also, you may need to get rafter vents (looks like tin roofing - wavy - to ventilate between the insulation and your roof decking boards). Here's a link on the rafter vents: http://www.owenscorning.com/around/v...mate_attic.asp
What about ventilation? Soffit vents? Ridge vents?
You may also have to upgrade your electrical panel. That can be costly as well. If there is already an electric supply up there, you may not need more.
All of this is so dependent on what you intend to do, what load you are going to place on your home, etc....

I think it's a great idea! Check those joists and your electric supply. I hope it works for you as it's always a charming spot and cheaper than an addition (well, most of the time!).
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Old 02-23-2007, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Waupun, Wisconsin
323 posts, read 1,870,249 times
Reputation: 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkmewright View Post
Drat! I can't see your pics.
You might have better luck going directly to the URLs for the pictures. The first is a shot of the house, the second an inside shot of the attic.
http://i9.tinypic.com/2j4c113.jpg
http://i18.tinypic.com/2cdk590.jpg

Quote:
Anyway, what size are your joists? What is the span? That's the best place to start and the most dollar consuming IMHO. If you have 2x6 joists, you may need to beef them up. It depends on the span and your local zoning codes.
Good question. I'm not there at the moment so I can't say - not to mention that there's decking over the entire attic floor. My memory is that it felt *solid* - not like a floor made of MicroLam solid but more so than a floor done with TJIs. Still, that's just memory and I have nothing solid to base it on.

Quote:
Are you going to get a permit? Do you need one? I think 2x6 can handle a 10' span but please double check. The best place to start is your local hardware store. I prefer Home Depot or Lowes. They have that book rack you can devour and get tons of info.
Those are the sorts of questions that I'm looking to find, so I can set about finding answers for them!

Quote:
What about ventilation? Soffit vents? Ridge vents?
You may also have to upgrade your electrical panel. That can be costly as well. If there is already an electric supply up there, you may not need more.
All of this is so dependent on what you intend to do, what load you are going to place on your home, etc....

I think it's a great idea! Check those joists and your electric supply. I hope it works for you as it's always a charming spot and cheaper than an addition (well, most of the time!).
Thanks for the things to think about. I'm just hoping that my wife doesn't have her heart set on this so much that she doesn't love the house if we can't do it.
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Old 02-23-2007, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Springfield, Missouri
2,815 posts, read 12,336,203 times
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Damn! I'm jealous! What a beautiful Victorian! And look at those wooden planks horizontally placed in the attic as baseboards for the roof! That's fantastic construction! My own house has the same wooden plank construction though it was built in 1993 (I got freakin' lucky finding my house!).
But your attic is perfect for finishing. That is a big space and perfect for making use of. The way the underside of the roof is constructed, I'd use a thin plywood boarding to nail into the roof beams and smooth it out and take advantage of the opportunity to blow some insulation inbetween the underside of the planks and the plywood to help make heating that space easier. I'd also, if it's not done, take the opportunity to have electrical outlets placed in strategic places before you get too far. Then I'd sheetrock it and once that's done on the undersides of all the roof areas and walls, I'd finish off the walls with a nice paint job and then I'd sand and polish the wooden floors to a high polish. You can end up with a gorgeous space there and take advantage of that charming turret and those beautiful windows, as well as adding liveable and usable square footage to your home.
What a beautiful space. It's screaming for attention! DO IT!
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Old 02-23-2007, 05:03 PM
 
Location: Chattanooga TN
2,349 posts, read 9,955,447 times
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Oh no, now that I have seen your pics I have some VERY bad news.......


You must sell the house to me at a loss because it's just NOT going to work LOL

Absolutely wonderful house! Like Momard says, your attic just HAS to be done now. OK, here's what you do. Call in a contractor for an estimate. They can check all the specs for you. I am thinking that this is not going to be as problematic as I thought. Unless you are going to put a bank vault in there it looks like it can be done. I would however place any heavy objects over an existing wall on the lower level for support. I am currently green with envy!
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Old 02-23-2007, 05:15 PM
 
279 posts, read 1,762,956 times
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Absolutley BEAUTIFUL.
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Old 02-23-2007, 05:49 PM
 
5,019 posts, read 13,174,071 times
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Just had to say that is a great house.

Those curved windows are just....wow.
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Old 02-23-2007, 06:48 PM
 
302 posts, read 994,590 times
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That home is awesome!! Very NICE!!

The finished attic will add alot of value to it as well.
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Old 02-23-2007, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Waupun, Wisconsin
323 posts, read 1,870,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuse View Post
That home is awesome!! Very NICE!!

The finished attic will add alot of value to it as well.
It's hard to imagine selling it, though, unless we get gimpy enough to make the stairs difficult to handle as we get older.

For those of us living in a hot housing market (or one that was hot until just recently) it's hard to imagine that you can still get a house this nice for under $250k in an area that you'd want to live.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:05 PM
 
3,020 posts, read 24,440,499 times
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First I would ask how do you get up there normally? Are there stairs permanently installed? Is there only one method of entry??

Attics by definition in most places are listed as storage spaces, not living area. You plan to convert to a "Living Area" use. A lot of things come into play. In general everything gets kicked up a grade. Wiring, structure support required, windows, etc, etc. Fire stopping, fire alarms, lightning, on and on.

One big consideration is the path of escape in case of fire. You can be trapped up high with only one very poor path. What seems so easy on a practical basis becomes quite complicated at a regulation / permit / construction level.

Things that were grandfathered because of present use / age become required to meet present codes because it will be upgraded, a new permit is pulled. Like maybe those windows might have to be full tempered because they are so low.

You have to bring the entire area up to wiring code, heating, etc. Stairs must meet modern codes, including fire aspects.

Just looking at the pix's, you probably have to install an under roof air vent system before insulation. This would require some type of venting. Maybe not get the full height of the peak. Without it, your roof might not last very long, might also be pretty hot. Might have to build down the roof joists to get enough insulation in there. A redesign of the framing in that area to form vent paths.

Those type considerations and thinking. A lot depends on where the house is and what type of building code / regulations govern. Who is the permitting authority if any?

You need to define those aspects first. Then separate requirements out into categories those required by regulations and what must be done construction wise to get a superior job.

A good walk thru by a local contractor experienced in doing major renovations that meet all regulations / permits etc. Have them explain the process. Architects are over kill up front. Same with building inspectors. Get the views of experienced contractors first. They will be more on your side and not try to gild the lily. Use that as a guide to move thru planning out the project and hiring or getting the right people involved.

You may need a complete set of plans, in some places they even require a entirely new lot survey. Dumb but sometimes it happens. I once just tried to pave over a piece of my back lawn and park the car on it in Boston. Sheesh .... Like I was trying to build another Vatican.

Even the insurance company may require an inspection and Lord knows what else. So much depends on the location and customs.
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