Author Topic: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic  (Read 1120 times)

partgypsy

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What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« on: November 13, 2020, 07:36:24 AM »
Right now in my old house access to the attic is done through either a hatch in the hallway (with ladder) or a ship ladder in a closet. Despite that my ex had accumulated a large amount of items including furniture and bookcases that now need to come out. I would also like to after it is emptied, finish it out in a minimal way with better flooring, insulation and drywall, etc. A fantasy is finishing it to an even better level so could be rental for income but not in financial picture at this time. Options are: pull down staircase. This would only involve cutting the hatch a little bigger. Affordable, will help get stuff up and down. Downsides not really a permanent solution, and a pain to pull up and down.
Can be rickety. Spiral staircase. There is space in center of hallway (hallway is 45" wide so I would need to shorten a hallway wall into the study by 50"). So it would need a contractor but otherwise relatively straightforward and still affordable. Downside while kids are for it, I personally don't care for them, not sure if legal under building codes as true egress ingress. Also not sure if able to help get stuff out of attic (number one concern at this time). Third some version of straight or winder staircase. This would be my clear preference and I feel it would add value to house. But no straightforward place to put without significant changes to first floor, and I expect the combination of needing contractor, structural changes, and cost of actual stairs, beyond my reach. Any opinions? I am having a builder come by next week to look at space and give estimate.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 08:42:06 AM by partgypsy »

Fishindude

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2020, 07:50:54 AM »
If the space is big enough and structurally sound that it could be converted to living space, the only good way to access it is properly built and dimensioned set of permanent stairs.   This will eat up some floor space in your existing house.   I would never even consider a spiral staircase or pull down stairs for a space that you intend to use, that would be miserable access.   Ever try to move a piece of furniture up a spiral staircase?

If you don't have space for a proper stairs I would abandon the idea of using the attic for anything.   Don't store stuff in your attic either, stuff that winds up in an attic generally stays there and probably should have been disposed of anyway.   Only thing that should be up there is insulation, wiring and ductwork.

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2020, 08:41:42 AM »
I just realized there is space for a permanent set of stairs, if it began in the living room. It would require shifting one of the bedroom door entries, but other than moving the door and a larger opening in hallway ceiling no major structural changes (the hallway is 45" so no load bearing walls would need to be removed). I guess I can discuss with the contractor and prices, and see if it is worthwhile. I do agree that a pull down stair would be terrible for an actual living space. A spiral staircase would be OK if just used as loft/extra living space, but not if used as bedroom, unless a 2nd set (exterior) were also installed.

As far as structural soundness, did have contractor look at it 10? years ago. He quoted 100K but that included a adding substantial dormer, stairs, finishing out walls as well as additional load bearing pillars in a couple places through main floor down to foundation for structural reasons. I am unclear whether the pillars are needed if a dormer is NOT added. I don't know how much the structural adding on, would cost separate from all the rest.
I suspect that if it is simply used as loft/hang out and storage (and basically my ex was already using it as a studio and has a ton of stuff in it including desk and 5-6 loaded bookcases) it is fine. If I wanted to finish it out such as a master bedroom etc or super efficient apartment, I would need an engineer as well as all necessary permits etc.

Part of my indecision is while I love my house, location and can imagine staying here until old age, I sometimes fantasize about selling and downsizing to same or slightly smaller house but less expensive neighborhood (netting a difference of 50-80K). So I don't want to do anything that would detract from resale value. 
« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 08:58:17 AM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2020, 11:57:04 AM »
I think if it is doable, I am going to go for straight (regular) staircase). Keep fingers crossed it is financially doable. If not immediately try to do before oldest goes to college because after that finances will be tight yet again.

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2020, 12:01:29 PM »
I'd agree with Fishindude that if you are going to convert the attic it needs doing properly, according to code and with a decent staircase - good design will be key to putting it in the right location and making it look as though it belongs.  But I'm a bit confused about why you would want to add space to your current house while also fantasizing about downsizing?

What happens if you get rid of everything of your ex's that's currently in the attic, probably by throwing it down through the hatch, and then forget about the attic altogether?

Paper Chaser

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2020, 04:54:24 PM »
I'd agree with Fishindude that if you are going to convert the attic it needs doing properly, according to code and with a decent staircase - good design will be key to putting it in the right location and making it look as though it belongs.  But I'm a bit confused about why you would want to add space to your current house while also fantasizing about downsizing?

What happens if you get rid of everything of your ex's that's currently in the attic, probably by throwing it down through the hatch, and then forget about the attic altogether?

Sqft and # of bedrooms and bathrooms have huge influence on home values. If you can add a bunch of sqft to the house without having to increase the actual footprint of the building, it can pay off when it's time to sell. Depending on design, it could literally double the size of the home without expensive foundation, exterior or roof work.

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2020, 07:30:09 PM »
I'd agree with Fishindude that if you are going to convert the attic it needs doing properly, according to code and with a decent staircase - good design will be key to putting it in the right location and making it look as though it belongs.  But I'm a bit confused about why you would want to add space to your current house while also fantasizing about downsizing?

What happens if you get rid of everything of your ex's that's currently in the attic, probably by throwing it down through the hatch, and then forget about the attic altogether?
that's another possibility (and probably most likely) ie nothing. But I also know I don't get the stuff down there with current situation, unless I'm willing to throw everything down the hatch and break stuff (which I'd prefer not to do for a couple reasons). And I'd like to be able to use the attic.
As for square footage , it won't add a ton of space, like 350 square feet. But it the changes would increase resale value and usability of the house if done right.  Told my daughter and she is not happy because it means moving her door and disruption to her room, and she does not like change. But it won't be her decision.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 07:51:06 PM by partgypsy »

Papa bear

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2020, 07:50:54 PM »
Most attics that don’t have staircases weren’t built to handle living space, hell, even old houses with 3rd floor attic spaces and full stairs aren’t built to the same conditions as the rest of the house.

I would do some serious research on your structure before moving forward.  Consider this an attic “addition” rather than just finishing off the existing.


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partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2020, 08:00:41 PM »
Most attics that don’t have staircases weren’t built to handle living space, hell, even old houses with 3rd floor attic spaces and full stairs aren’t built to the same conditions as the rest of the house.

I would do some serious research on your structure before moving forward.  Consider this an attic “addition” rather than just finishing off the existing.


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I should have more info. I do remember when we initially bought the house the person who did the inspection was very complimentary of the build and size of beams. Said it could be easily finished off. The house is described in inspection as a one and 1/2 story house.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 08:03:56 PM by partgypsy »

draco44

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2020, 08:49:32 PM »
I also know I don't get the stuff down there with current situation, unless I'm willing to throw everything down the hatch and break stuff (which I'd prefer not to do for a couple reasons).

I'm hung up on this detail. Has the access to the attic changed since the stuff got up there? However precariously, it sounds like the stuff was carried up using the current hatch/ladder system. Or was the furniture brought up in pieces and assembled in place? If so, can it be disassembled again for moving purposes?

Whatever was brought up to the attic in one piece should in theory be possible to bring back down in one piece, with no modification to the building. If it feels unsafe to you to do this personally, maybe it would be possible to hire one or two movers for a few hours to help you clear the space?

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2020, 09:27:13 PM »
It's not safe for me to do it. Can be done with movers, but it will.take more than a few hours I'm guessing. I think what I need to do, is have a structural engineer look at the attic. If it needs significant work to get up to code, then I should focus on getting stuff out of attic, dejunking it and leave it at that. Eta I need to just pay people at this point to remove items from attic. My ex was supposed to do it but clearly he is not, and I am unable to, and it's been 4 years since he moved out.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2020, 07:18:14 AM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2020, 04:45:18 PM »
Eta, though i will still get at least one quote,I am leaning towards getting a pull down ladder installed. It is the faster solution for the most pressing issue.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 09:34:36 AM by partgypsy »

beekayworld

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2020, 07:35:17 AM »
Here are some ideas:
A retractable staircase.
https://bcompact.com/

Pull-out stairs disappear into the wall.

« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 07:41:49 AM by beekayworld »

beekayworld

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2020, 07:57:30 AM »
As for square footage , it won't add a ton of space, like 350 square feet.

An additional 350 square feet would be a huge advantage in resale! In my area, homes average $275/square foot , so the finished accessible attic would add $96k when you sell. Even if your area just gets $100/square foot, that extra 350 square feet garners $35k more when you sell.

I've read that since Covid, lots of people are looking for home offices or at lease space that can feel separate from the rest of the house. With all of the open floor plans, it can be difficult to have two adults working from home much less kids on the computer for school.

I like the idea of getting a structural engineer out and, depending on cost, going ahead and doing the work to convert it to livable space.  As you say, you may be able to rent it out. When your daughter goes to college you will be glad to have the extra income.

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2020, 09:42:24 AM »
beekay, when me and ex bought the house we totally intended on finishing off the attic! But life happened (plus quotes we were getting were outrageous, and then he moved so much stuff in attic it wasn't going to happen.

So it's still a fantasy to make it into a space. To either rent. Or if crap totally hits the fan, I could move upstairs and rent the downstairs lol. 

Those expanding stairs are really cool! Where you did you find that?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 09:45:18 AM by partgypsy »

Goldielocks

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2020, 08:00:57 PM »
In my area, finishing off the attic space would be considered to be adding floor space, requiring a building permit and maybe a development permit or even a variance if the overall house sq.ft now exceeds the basic bylaw zoning.

I assume that this attic already has a subfloor installed that you can walk on.. (mine is just trusses that you need to dance across carefully).  If so, your structure should be ok, and maybe your insulation, too. just the stair issue (which needs to be fixed stair for code, typically, for finished space), but... 

What about HVAC? 
Windows that open and allow firefighter access?

theoverlook

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2020, 08:12:08 AM »
If you do go with a pull down ladder, get the "big boy" style that is a full 30" wide - it is SO much better to carry stuff up and down versus the typical narrower ladder; every inch of width is precious when you're talking a stair/ladder. And it's actually easier to install as it still only requires cutting one ceiling joist but doesn't require a subsequent additional joist pieced in as it fills two joist bays.

https://louisvilleladder.com/ladders/attic-ladders/louisville-ladder-30x60-wood-attic-ladder-350-pound-load-capacity-s305p&id=s305p

I know there are other 30" wide ladders, that's just the one I've seen before.

Papa bear

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2020, 11:12:33 AM »
If you do go with a pull down ladder, get the "big boy" style that is a full 30" wide - it is SO much better to carry stuff up and down versus the typical narrower ladder; every inch of width is precious when you're talking a stair/ladder. And it's actually easier to install as it still only requires cutting one ceiling joist but doesn't require a subsequent additional joist pieced in as it fills two joist bays.

https://louisvilleladder.com/ladders/attic-ladders/louisville-ladder-30x60-wood-attic-ladder-350-pound-load-capacity-s305p&id=s305p

I know there are other 30" wide ladders, that's just the one I've seen before.
I would seriously reconsider cutting out a joist. To do this properly, you would need to sister on a new joist on each side and then double block on each side with hangers, then use hangers to attach the cut joist to the blocking.  You’re making what’s called a plumbers box. 

This could be even worse if you are cutting out a piece of a truss. Not your typical homeowner special kind of job. 


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ChpBstrd

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2020, 11:36:14 AM »
Have you considered making the attic accessible from an outdoor staircase? Just cut a door into a gable and put in the decking or metal staircase.

This solution would support your objectives of being able to utilize the space or rent it out, but without the interior damage or loss of floor space. A potential future renter could access the space without going through the downstairs space. If finished, the space would still count toward the house's square footage.

theoverlook

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2020, 01:19:30 PM »
If you do go with a pull down ladder, get the "big boy" style that is a full 30" wide - it is SO much better to carry stuff up and down versus the typical narrower ladder; every inch of width is precious when you're talking a stair/ladder. And it's actually easier to install as it still only requires cutting one ceiling joist but doesn't require a subsequent additional joist pieced in as it fills two joist bays.

https://louisvilleladder.com/ladders/attic-ladders/louisville-ladder-30x60-wood-attic-ladder-350-pound-load-capacity-s305p&id=s305p

I know there are other 30" wide ladders, that's just the one I've seen before.
I would seriously reconsider cutting out a joist. To do this properly, you would need to sister on a new joist on each side and then double block on each side with hangers, then use hangers to attach the cut joist to the blocking.  You’re making what’s called a plumbers box. 

This could be even worse if you are cutting out a piece of a truss. Not your typical homeowner special kind of job. 

Any pull-down ladder is going to require joist cutting. Unless you want to squeeze between a 15" joist spacing. I'm assuming that a competent contractor would be doing the job, of course.

Papa bear

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2020, 03:24:47 PM »
If you do go with a pull down ladder, get the "big boy" style that is a full 30" wide - it is SO much better to carry stuff up and down versus the typical narrower ladder; every inch of width is precious when you're talking a stair/ladder. And it's actually easier to install as it still only requires cutting one ceiling joist but doesn't require a subsequent additional joist pieced in as it fills two joist bays.

https://louisvilleladder.com/ladders/attic-ladders/louisville-ladder-30x60-wood-attic-ladder-350-pound-load-capacity-s305p&id=s305p

I know there are other 30" wide ladders, that's just the one I've seen before.
I would seriously reconsider cutting out a joist. To do this properly, you would need to sister on a new joist on each side and then double block on each side with hangers, then use hangers to attach the cut joist to the blocking.  You’re making what’s called a plumbers box. 

This could be even worse if you are cutting out a piece of a truss. Not your typical homeowner special kind of job. 

Any pull-down ladder is going to require joist cutting. Unless you want to squeeze between a 15" joist spacing. I'm assuming that a competent contractor would be doing the job, of course.
There are a whole lot of attics that are built 24” oc.  Attics typically are not meant as livable space and are built to withstand the down forces on the roof.
, not the floor.  The ladders are meant to fit in between that 22.5” space with no structural changes.  If OP or anyone else has 16” oc structure this point is moot and your ladder access will need structural work to be completed. 


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partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2020, 08:50:27 AM »
There is already a permanent hole/hatch that was original to house, framed up and 32" wide by 42" long. It is located in hallway that is 45-46" wide. Two options considering is a pull down (any recommendations?). And will get a quote on permanent stairs that are most likely out of reach financially, but at least hear what they say. Got a quote of 3-4k for just for building stairs, but I would be responsible for pulling permits, any openings, structural changes needed before stairs are installed. There is attic flooring that looks original to house but only in that long "room" in center of house. Rest is just joists. And walls, ceiling are completely unfinished.

Eta I looked up original inspection and states "floors are framed with 2 x 8 boards, spaced 16 inches on center. Subflooring is diagonal wood plant subfloor with either plywood or particle board underlayment under floorcoverings or wood strip flooring" but no additional info about attic flooring. I do remember we installed a couple more piers under the house, including one under the living room. While it was described somewhere (I can't find now) as 1 1/2 story, through out inspection described as attic. I measured upstairs and the boards are definitely 2" thick, I couldn't measure the depth, and where I could measure the space between the planks were 13", 15" and 16".   

the "room" is 38" long by about 10 1/2 feet wide. The top of the ceiling is 92" high so only 4-5 feet wide of space being at 68" or above.  There is additional ceiling height basically perpendicular (the roof looks like a cross from above -but - those spaces have rafters in them.  So, it is looking like attic only. However, even having a decent pull down ladder will be an improvement over current situation. And if the attic is partially finished, would make for a nicer cleaner space. Still prefer a permanent set of stairs. Just might not be cost/space effective. 
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 12:23:12 PM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2020, 01:48:34 PM »
Talked to one contractor and they didn't have any other better ideas of where stairs would go other than my ideas. So 90% going to go with decent pull down stairs. 

theoverlook

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2020, 08:05:43 AM »
For an existing opening, I quite like the Werner Televator telescoping ladder. Unfortunately they seem to have discontinued it, but maybe something similar is out there. It mounts to one end of the opening and does require a little clearance above and past the joist you mount it to, so it can't go up against a flat wall in the attic. (Which you wouldn't want to do anyway, typically, but just FIY there.)

@Papa bear: Maybe attic ladders strictly for maintenance access can be 22.5" wide, but there's not a single piece of real furniture that's going to fit through an opening that size.

StashingAway

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2020, 08:26:16 AM »
I want to respectfully point out a couple of discrepancies: You are trying to expand your space, but are worried about doing so for resale value. You are considering reselling to downsize your living condition in the future. Which is it? Do you have too much space or not enough? Just a something to ponder. What climate are you in? How hot (or cold) does the attic get?

Depending on your building, making an attic could change your HVAC, air quality, insulation, etc. quite a bit. Houses should be considered as a building envelope. The approaches of this have changed over the centuries and initial build quality of the house. As an anecdote, I would never consider putting a living space in my attic because it is 100% designed to insulate and air seal below it. The attic space itself is outside air combined with fiberglass particles and all kinds of things. To make it an actual living space I would need to somehow insulate the roof, completely change the current ventilation, etc. It wouldn't be as easy as throwing up some batts in the rafters, it would need all new construction and planning by someone who knows about house systems and how they work together. I know a decent bit and wouldn't do it on my own.

Like others have said, if your house suddenly has listed more square footage than when you bought it, you will likely need to document that. You can list a house and not count the attic, but if you're counting it, you need it to be built to code. This means that the floor needs to support live loads, have an egress point, and have stairs built to code. Very similar to basements. A basement can be "finished" without being to code, but if it's going to be counted in the SqFt, then it needs to be to code.

I do like the idea of external stairs as that has more flexibility and also solves a lot of the issues of trying to combine two separate conditioned spaces. A little mini porch and room would be nice for renting out.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 08:29:37 AM by StashingAway »

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2020, 09:37:19 AM »
Yes. I am kind of all over the place, what I want to do, and is reflected in these posts! I don't need extra space, but who doesn't want more space? Number one thing is to clean out attic, and literally clean it, and if part of it was finished it would overall improve my quality of life even if just going up and down to store things, and kids occasionally use as get away spot. My preference is, to continue to make affordable to me upgrades and keep house. However, if I ever did decide to sell house either willingly or unwillingly, don't want anything I did to house to decrease (rather if possible increase value).  I don't want to do anything that will increase property taxes. That rules out full remodel. I do think having an accessible clean attic/loft space would improve the desirability of house, and I would like it too, as long as a) it didn't cost too much and b) sig affect heating cooling bills etc.   As far as livability it is a 90 year old house and has rafters and joists. Not a modern house with blown in insulation etc. We actually need to insulate the attic better than we have as other than some insulation we laid down in between joists in accessible areas there is no insulation at all (floor or ceiling). Ex used to hang out year round. He would wear a coat in winter and run a fan in summer. I would def need to make changes for me to feel comfortable.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 09:50:59 AM by partgypsy »

Villanelle

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2020, 10:13:16 AM »
We have a spiral staircase up to a finished attic-like space in our weird old house (that we rent).  In general, its fine.  But it is a very narrow spiral.  That makes getting things up and down challenging.  We only use the space for storage so it is fine, but if we wanted any furniture op there, the only option would be to carry up Ikea flat packs and assemble up there, and leave there for ever.  There is no way we could get even a twin sized mattress up there, so a bed would be out ((other than a futon).  So if you want this to be a potential rental, that's something to consider.  With a wider spiral, it might not be a problem, and there is no permanent rail at the top of ours, which does make it surely not up to code, but there's a small bookcase there that blocks it off so no one would fall, but can be removed.  It cuts the amount of spiraling we have to do to get things up there.  So a removable rail, if still safe and up to code, might help.  But really just making the radius of the spiral as big as possible is important.  I'm too lazy to go up there to look because I'm tucked under a warm blanket at the moment, but I'd estimate our steps are perhaps ~~~15"wide. 

That makes it sound very challenging, but really, for storage it works quite well and getting storage bins in and out on the spiral staircase has been fine.  It is certainly nicer, IMO, than a pull down stair case would have been. 

StashingAway

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2020, 10:28:25 AM »
Yes. I am kind of all over the place, what I want to do, and is reflected in these posts! I don't need extra space, but who doesn't want more space? Number one thing is to clean out attic, and literally clean it, and if part of it was finished it would overall improve my quality of life even if just going up and down to store things, and kids occasionally use as get away spot. My preference is, to continue to make affordable to me upgrades and keep house. However, if I ever did decide to sell house either willingly or unwillingly, don't want anything I did to house to decrease (rather if possible increase value).  I don't want to do anything that will increase property taxes. That rules out full remodel. I do think having an accessible clean attic/loft space would improve the desirability of house, and I would like it too, as long as a) it didn't cost too much and b) sig affect heating cooling bills etc.   As far as livability it is a 90 year old house and has rafters and joists. Not a modern house with blown in insulation etc. We actually need to insulate the attic better than we have as other than some insulation we laid down in between joists in accessible areas there is no insulation at all (floor or ceiling). Ex used to hang out year round. He would wear a coat in winter and run a fan in summer. I would def need to make changes for me to feel comfortable.

If it were me, I would want to try to not make the attic be a jack-of-all, but just do it's main job really well. This means cleaning it like you said, but then air-sealing the whole thing. A good portion of your heating/cooling bill is likely leaking out of your attic. The best bang for your buck you can do in most homes for efficiency is air-seal and insulate the attic. There are probably hundreds of small holes from your ceiling to your attic space. That's like leaving a window open 24/7 in a high pressure zone (the pressure differences in a house are most drastic at the ceiling and floor. There are companies that fix this or you can do it yourself.

Air seal, then insulate, then only go up there once every few years to just make sure nothing is wonky. That would be my #1 recommendation assuming you have decent storage space elsewhere. Things stored in the attic are often forgot and (as someone mentioned above) most often beneficial to just get rid of. Then you've made the performance of your house higher and never have to wonder if/when you should upgrade the attic any more. Your house will perform better and last longer and all of your subsystems (hvac, plumbing, drywall, etc) will benefit from making a good building envelope.

That would be what I would do for my house. But...

If you do want to make it more of a lounge space and storage, then you can still do most of these things, but will be limited on how much insulation you can actually add. Rather than 20" of blown in cellulose you might be limited to 8" of fiberglass batts. Or if you are in a climate that needs little HVAC control or the house is old enough to be working on different climate control principles. It's hard to say over the internet what you would benefit from, just that 90% of the time the basic seal & insulate is good advice. Maybe start putting together some nice storage racks in the garage or bins that slide under furniture. Maximize your living space inside.



partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2020, 01:44:28 PM »
The problem is that there's not much in the way of storage in the house. No garage. No tool or garden shed. Up until recently when redid master bedroom, the only closet in was also access to the attic and used as such (not used as actual closet). I do now have a closet in my bedroom (other 2 bedrooms use armoires). I have decluttered alot. But there are some things I am not yet willing to get rid of entirely.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 01:48:45 PM by partgypsy »

Goldielocks

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2020, 11:28:23 PM »
If it were me, I would pay the $$ and spray foam the attic roof from inside.   Oh, wait, that's what I did!

 Then you don't need to worry about ventilation doffits for the attic and only worry about HVAC and ventilation for the "living space".  It also is low profile, no particles, includes vapour barrier, etc.

BUT.. it is worth calling your city building permit clerk office and ask if converting  storage-only attic to living space with a folding stair would be considered adding floor area, and do you need to do anything permit wise?

StashingAway

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #30 on: November 21, 2020, 01:02:00 PM »
The problem is that there's not much in the way of storage in the house. No garage. No tool or garden shed. Up until recently when redid master bedroom, the only closet in was also access to the attic and used as such (not used as actual closet). I do now have a closet in my bedroom (other 2 bedrooms use armoires). I have decluttered alot. But there are some things I am not yet willing to get rid of entirely.

So that seems to narrow it down more... seems that you want space up there for some storage. I'd price out a couple of different option for that. No need for a dedicated living-space stairwell. Spray foaming the cathedral ceiling is a great suggestion; you might want to talk to an engineer to make sure your space can handle it. You wouldn't need to get special permits if it's not a living space and just continued storage.

Any option that you chose will have something in the "con" list, so I wouldn't try to do it all. From everything you've said

1) You don't need the space for personal living
2) It would be a lot of work and intrusive to try to make it a living space with proper stairwell, either for you or for house hacking
3) You could actually use more storage

The other thing I would think of is the opportunity cost for some of this stuff. Cheap insulation in the ceiling and a nice outdoor shed might give you more flexibility. Seems that some of this is a bit of a solution looking for a problem.

partgypsy

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Re: What would you do? Access to unfinished attic
« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2020, 08:50:29 AM »
This is what I am leaning towards. Most likely a DECENT (aka 600-1K) heavy duty attic ladder. Nice enough that if people are going up and down it is easier and also useful for moving stuff. Or a spiral staircase that is non conforming, but large enough (51-55" wide) that is actually useful for walking as well as bringing stuff up and down.

The idea is to clean it up, insulate, dry wall, install 2 windows. And that is used for both storage but also a loft aka a liveable but nonconforming space. In that way it does not count towards square footage. I also could not rent it, but I'm OK with that (as long as reno doesn't cost too much).

I didn't want to get into this but there is a non zero chance that my sister may end up not having a place to live in next 5? years (not going to go into the details). Sooner than that my lil brother would like it so my sister can visit for longer periods. If I could fit out attic so it is livable even if nonconforming, would actually give me a lot of peace of mind regarding that scenario. As far as heating cooling, between insulating it, installing real windows, and a mini split, that should be enough.

first step is installing attic ladder though.