Giant attic finishing project

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  #1  
Old 10-23-16, 10:00 PM
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Giant attic finishing project

So my boyfriend and I bought this 2250sqft 1920 house 6byears ago with big plans that went nowhere.

I was considering finishing the attic as a surprise for him (he never goes up there). at least I could surprise him by starting it. I'm quite handy and have built and finished sheds into insulated workshops so I'm not new at hands on projects.

I'm also good friends with my town building department so I know about permits.

one thing I'm unsure about is... the attic is HUGE! I considered taking one side of the attic and making a small room for a work space for him, and just one tiny side is 8ft by 12 ft finished. I can get 4 of those out of the whole attic PLUS an additional 400-600sqft in the center. and that's from knee wall height, not unusable height.

the tallest point In the attic is also very high.

this is where my question is...

there is no way I want to go to the top of the roof for this job.... has anyone ever made an attic... IN their attic?

I could probably have a good 6-8 and in some places 10 ir more ft above my head if I build my walls 8 ft tall, then for the ceiling put in joists and then another floor above, essentially giving me 3 full stories and another attic....

Is this something I can do? if so, would I just run joists the width of the attic to create another floor above as well as using it for the ceiling below, and then add a pull down stairs and use the above for storage?
 
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  #2  
Old 10-24-16, 01:55 AM
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It sounds like a very ambitious project . There's several hurdles to overcome such as electrical and HVAC. (Those systems may not be sufficient for this space.) The first, and possibly greatest, is that supports under the attic floor may not be sufficient to handle the weight. Speak with the building dept to find out how to determine what's needed. My guess is that the attic was meant to be just that. BTW, what kind of stairs and entry do you have to the attic? The answer may tell you something about what the builder anticipated.
 
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Old 10-24-16, 03:15 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

I agree the size/span of the attic's floor joists are the #1 concern! Most attics weren't built to be utilized for storage or as a living area. If doable what type of work would he be doing in the space?

Not sure why you would need to get on the roof unless you intend to put in dormers ??
 
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Old 10-24-16, 04:43 AM
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The place to start is with an architect who can take all of the engineering, codes, and proposed plans into consideration and produce the required drawings for this to go forward. As a gift to the boyfriend that would be a fantastic start.

Bud
 
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Old 10-24-16, 06:29 AM
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Going to need a real modern code approved stairway, egress window that meets code, if there's a closet the building dept. will consider this a possible bedroom which opens up another whole can of worms with the zoning and health dept.
With your location added to your profile someone could make better suggestions on things like how and how much insulation your going to need.
https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm...sulation_table
The easiest way to wire this would be to run wire from the panel to a subpanel in the attic.
 
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Old 10-24-16, 06:35 AM
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There's a door with a full size staircase leading to the attic. The attic is just shy of the size of the entire second floor of the house. This is one small corner of the attic

The floor of the attic doesn't need to be done as it was completed before we bought the house, insulated, and a hardwood floor was laid on top and we were told by the inspector the floor was completed in a way where we could finish the attic. So that is all squared away.

Actually, before we bought it, years before, someone lived up there. They had tapped off the chimney and had a wood stove up there for warmth.

I think that it was the mother in law who lived up there and before that it might have been servants quarters because the way the house is laid out, the "grand" staircase is in the front of the house, and the "back" staircase leads to a landing with 2 doors, A door to the other side of the second story and also the door for the attic staircase.



As far as why i'd want to get to the roof, I don't.

What I'm saying is, the attic is so tall (maybe 20 ft in the middle)? that I could finish it off into a big room, and then still have an attic up there for storage.

Is that something anyone has done?

And ambitious is something I am...

My last project was a 10X20 shed that I wired for duel zone electric heat with:
two 220V heaters
microcontrolled climate control and lighting control that sends me an email if the temperature is out of my required range (programmed myself)
wired all the outlets and ventilation fans (electrical inspector was impressed that he found nothing wrong)
insulated (floor, walls, ceiling) better than the insulation in my own house (which isnt' saying much)
laid tile flooring in such a great way that even though the shed is on 4x4's instead of a slap, I have not had any grout or tile crack in 5 years (more than I can say for the guy who did my kitchen)
Installed two floor drains
Built a loft inside for storage
Finished off the walls with plastic panel for ease of cleaning
Hung all of the cabinets
Put a sub panel out there and wired everything into my sub panel.
Tapped off of said sub panel to run electric to my garages.


I'm a fairly handy person... for a girl ;-)


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Old 10-24-16, 07:18 AM
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side note if I finish the attic it'll be one room.

we also won't be running hvac ductwork to the attic. there is too much asbestos to do anything with our ductwork and our second floor is already 100 degrees in the winter due to our lack of returns on the second floor. heat already rises to the attic fairly well and i plan on using those room heaters (those ones that go in the individual rooms through the walls so you can heat one room at a time) we almost bought one house where the whole thing had those and it's a great idea.
 
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Old 10-24-16, 08:15 AM
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Didn't mention your climate zone and did not comment on getting this designed before you start. My list of experience is miles longer than yours and I would not think about starting until I had the design in hand.

Relying on a verbal approval from your friend inspector is not adequate. Somebody throws a party 10 years from now and 50 people show up, sending that floor through the ceiling below and who is going to be liable? You need signed and approved drawings BEFORE you start.

Bud
 
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Old 10-24-16, 08:27 AM
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I think that people are taking what I'm saying and going for a jog with it, extrapolating meaning from very pointed statements.

"I'm also good friends with my town building department so I know about permits."
Means exactly that... I am friends with the town building department (from the many projects I have done) and I know about the permit requirements (and inspection requirements, etc).
NOWHERE did I say this person was an inspector or that I had verbal approval of anything.



If this was what was being referred to, again no reference to "friend"
The floor of the attic doesn't need to be done as it was completed before we bought the house, insulated, and a hardwood floor was laid on top and we were told by the inspector the floor was completed in a way where we could finish the attic. So that is all squared away.

I guess I should have clarified, the floor work was done and instead of writing "we were told by the inspector" I should have written INSPECTOR NOTED ON OUR INSPECTION REPORT

I didn't know the level of detail that was required when posting here.



Additionally, I never said I was going to start without a plan in place OR that I didn't have a plan in place.

That is pure assumption on your part as well as the assumption that my most recent building project completes my list of experience/projects. I assure you old chap, you're mistaken in your assumption.

But instead of getting into a pissing match, which it seems as if you're looking for and I refuse to entertain, lets just answer the one question I asked...




HAS ANYONE EVER CONVERTED A REALLY LARGE ATTIC INTO A FINISHED ROOM AND WAS STILL ABLE TO ALLOW FOR A SECOND 'ATTIC' ABOVE THE FINISHED ROOM, THAT COULD BE USED FOR STORAGE??


thanks everyone else for your kind advice!
 
  #10  
Old 10-24-16, 09:48 AM
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Nope, never built one.

Best

Bud the, Old Chap
 
  #11  
Old 10-24-16, 11:42 AM
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I've not built one either but what you have is more of an unfinished 3rd floor than a traditional attic. When you frame a room in and it has it's own lower ceiling - there will be attic space above it. Whether or not that new attic space can be used for anything depends on how the new ceiling is constructed.


Since we never get the whole story we often have to make assumptions [especially at first] None of the members that replied in your thread are prone to pissing matches.
 
  #12  
Old 10-24-16, 01:36 PM
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From post #6.
There's a door with a full size staircase leading to the attic.
Your statement of "full size" is meaningless without the dimensions and angle of the staircase. There are specific building codes today specifying these dimensions that you would more than likely need to meet. Years ago they often built staircases too steep or too narrow.

...we were told by the inspector the floor was completed in a way where we could finish the attic.
What inspector? The home inspector hired to pass judgement prior to purchase? If a home inspector, they are rarely equivalent to licensed structural engineers or licensed architects. In many jurisdictions they are not required to have ANY certifications at all and in some the requirements are no more than to be able to write a check for the business license and not have it bounce.

Actually, before we bought it, years before, someone lived up there. They had tapped off the chimney and had a wood stove up there for warmth.
Just because someone in the past used the space for living does not mean it meets code for a living space.

The other members have raised valid questions that MUST be addressed with more than the facts that the floor was finished before your purchase and it was okayed by a HOME INSPECTOR (my assumption based upon your postings) who MAY have no clue as to its actual construction. Otherwise, I see no serious objection to what you have proposed.
 
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