DIY Ways to Turn an Unused Attic or Basement Into Liveable Space

by Alex ThatcherDecember 17, 2018

5 Things You Need to Consider When Converting an Attic or Basement

For most homes, the attic and basement remain unfinished once the home is built. The problem is, this can amount to a lot of unused space and the homebuyer not getting the best value for their money.

One way to reclaim the space and get the most value out of it is to turn an empty attic or basement into livable space. Whether you want to add another bedroom to your home, an exercise room, a home office, or something else altogether, utilizing this space and making it a functional part of your home not only adds market value to your home, but it also ensures your home is being used to its full potential.

Here are five things you need to consider before taking the DIY approach to turning unused space in your home into livable space.

redo the attic

Have Your Home Inspected by a Professional Builder

Occasionally, turning unused space into livable space can require some changes in the home. Therefore, you should consult a professional builder and have him or her inspect your home to make sure your project won’t require any structural changes to the building. They will also be able to tell you if the height, width, and floor space are within the local building code’s requirements.

Support Will Be Needed

Most attics aren’t designed to be living spaces when they are originally constructed. As a result, your attic floor may not be able to support the extra weight being demanded of it. You should expect to have to add additional floor supports if you want the attic to be anything other than an attic. Anytime you add supports, they will need to meet local building codes, so the professional you hire to check your home should also be able to help you learn more about what’s needed in this regard.

Entry and Exit Points

Both the attic and the basement will need a means of entry and exit. It’s especially important to consider the exit because the occupant will need a means of getting out of the home if there is a fire or other emergency. For the attic, there are plenty of products available that can help one escape the home via an attic window. In the basement, you will have to install an external door if there isn’t already one there.

redo the basement

Determine the Room’s Use and Start Planning

You should have an idea of what the space will be used for before you start the project. You should also have a vision for how you are going to organize the room, so you can make the very best use of every inch of floor space. Start planning early, so you have the time to adjust before the job is completed.

Moisture and Temperature Issues

Basements and attics are both known for having moisture and temperature issues. Attics can be brutally hot and humid in the summer and ice cold in the winter, while basements can be cold and damp all year round. You’re going to have to implement measures to ensure these factors don’t infringe on the finished room’s comfort level.

To do this, you will have to include a moisture barrier on the ceiling and walls of the attic or the floor and walls of the basement. You should also extend your home’s heating and cooling duct-work to condition the new space.

redo the attic

Converting Unused Space Into Livable Space Is a Big Job

Turning an unused space into livable space in a home is no small task. From installing insulation to running plumbing and electrical lines, a DIY home renovator needs to ensure the space is safe and up to code. You don’t want to do all the hard work only to fail inspection because you forgot a small detail.

Take your time, plan everything out, and learn your local building codes before you start. If any permits will be required, you need to ensure you purchase them before starting. As always, work safely and if you aren’t comfortable with something or unsure how it should be done, consult a professional.

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About The Author
Alex Thatcher
Alex is a home staging guru who moonlights as a writer. She loves everything about interior design and loves working in the industry. Alex is an expert in finding what makes people light up when they walk into a room, and has made a living by creating interiors that are unique, warm and inviting. When she isn't arranging flowers or making sure she's found the right loveseat for prospective buyers, she writes about her passion — home design.