Does your Long Beach home have an attic that would make a great extra bedroom, home office, or bonus room? Or have you ever thought about finishing out the space to use as an additional storage area? Capturing the under-used attic space in your home can be a great way to give your home some additional square footage without increasing the footprint of your home. An attic renovation can also be a great investment. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, homeowners can expect to recoup about 56% of the cost of their attic renovation when they go to sell their home. That percentage goes up if a bathroom is added as part of the project.
But as with any home improvement project in Long Beach that involved getting permits from the city, an attic renovation is not as simple as it might seem.
One of the first things you’ll need to consider is how the attic space will be accessed. A lot of attics currently have a small access point in a hallway, but since you can’t exactly erect a staircase in the middle of a hallway, you’ll have to find another place that makes sense. Your Long Beach architect may have to come up with a creative solution to give you access to your newly refinished attic, but that solution may come at a high price—especially if it involves moving walls around.
Secondly, you may have to consider the cost to relocate any existing equipment in your attic, such as HVAC units, ductwork, plumbing, or fans. Depending on what’s in your attic, the cost could be considerable.
If the renovated attic space will be used as a “habitable” space, as opposed to just a storage space, there are some extra code considerations that your architect will need to adhere to, such as a minimum square footage and ceiling height requirements. Things like proper ventilation, an egress window, and lighting will also need to be added.
Long Beach architect Mark Grisafe cautions homeowners that seemingly simple projects like attic renovations are rarely as straightforward as they seem. He says, “Homeowners shouldn’t assume that their small project is a simple one from a design perspective. It could be, but more often than not, there are factors that homeowners don’t consider that can keep a project from being ‘simple’. A good architect will inform a new client of the cost and possible challenges of their desired project early on.”
Grisafe continued, “There is a house in my neighborhood with a nice big attic. Each time a new person moves into that house and finds out I’m an architect, they inevitably ask me the same question: ‘Why can’t we just turn that attic into a bonus room?’ The problem with this particular attic is that its ceiling height is inadequate and creating proper access would be complicated. When I describe all that would be required to create a bonus room that complies with our local codes, each homeowner decides that they don’t actually need the extra space that badly.”
A permitted attic space can be a great value-add to a Long Beach home, but don’t expect it to be a simple or inexpensive project. Go into it with reasonable expectations, accompanied by competent professionals who can guide you through the process, and you’ll be just fine!