Home & Garden

Has anyone converted the attic to a walk in closet?

  • Last Updated:
  • May 22nd, 2019 2:32 pm
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
8896 posts
687 upvotes

Has anyone converted the attic to a walk in closet?

I wonder if anyone has done that. If so, could you please share your experience ? Thanks :)
Image

By the way, currently there is no stairs to my attic. There is only an opening on ceiling inside my existing small walk in closet. I wonder what is the best option to makes it more accessible if we end up converting the attic into a bigger walk-in closet. Thanks for any idea/suggestion. Something like this ?
Image
12 replies
Deal Guru
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Oct 6, 2010
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Toronto
I looked into a similar setup about 5 years ago. Basically, the attic was too short to stand up tall in, therefore would have required to put extra height/dormers into the roof. In the end this project to which was going to be be approx 350-500 sqft was a little over 1/3 the cost to put a second story on the house. I wouldn't have time or the skill to do that, so it was from a construction company. I ended up doing neither.

I would assume based on the costs, people either put a second story on or forgot about it altogether.

Interested to see if you get some replies tho.
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[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
8896 posts
687 upvotes
Thanks for sharing your experience. I actually have never gone up to my attic, thus I don't know what its height is ..... But I guess it would be similar situation as I assume if the attic wasn't built/planned to be used as living space, the builder would probably make it minimum height requirement. Also, I remember I read comments saying that its floor will probably need to be reinforced for supporting additional weight.

koffey wrote: I looked into a similar setup about 5 years ago. Basically, the attic was too short to stand up tall in, therefore would have required to put extra height/dormers into the roof. In the end this project to which was going to be be approx 350-500 sqft was a little over 1/3 the cost to put a second story on the house. I wouldn't have time or the skill to do that, so it was from a construction company. I ended up doing neither.

I would assume based on the costs, people either put a second story on or forgot about it altogether.

Interested to see if you get some replies tho.
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Jun 12, 2007
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London
rdx wrote: I wonder if anyone has done that. If so, could you please share your experience ? Thanks :)
Image
In most houses up here, the attic construction (i.e wood trusses) are only designed to carry the weight of the roof. They have a “zig zag” wood structure (triangulation) to carry the roof load with the minimum amount of wood and weight

1) the roof trusses (zig zag structure) takes up most of the usable space in the attic/ under the roof. To remove the zig structure would require the existing trusses to be reinforced ($$$) or the roof structure removed and replaced ($$$$)

What it likely looks like now:
Image

Image

What it needs to be replaced with:
Image

Image

2) the existing roof trusses are not designed to carry live floor loads like your storage cabinets and people walking around. They are only 2x4 wood whereas your house floor is like 2x12 wood. To replace the joists with larger ones would require the existing roof structure to be removed and replaced with a new structure ($$$$$)

3) An attic is like an outside space. It’s open to outside air for ventilation. There currently is no electricity, heating, windows, etc up there. All this would need to be added plus substantial insulation ($$$$$)
Last edited by l69norm on May 21st, 2019 7:15 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Mar 23, 2008
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Edmonton
Thinking about carrying clean clothes up that circular stairway makes my brain hurt. Can't see anyone really wanting to do that on a regular basis, nor climbing up/down those stairs on a daily basis to get dressed in the morning.

Our house is a "1.5" story house. Basically, the second floor is similar to your first picture, with extra width and slightly higher vertical walls on the sides. I agree that trying to convert a "regular" attic to an open/livable space would be an expensive proposition.

In our case, we had 2 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Very small closets (like 4 to 6 ft^2). We ended up making it "right for us" by converting the secondary bedroom into a laundry/closet area and enlarging the bathroom, and removing the walls for the master bedroom. Basically making it a "master suite", I guess. The spare bedroom is now in the basement. My suggestion for you would be to consider options like that, over trying to make non-livable space livable.

C
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
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Brampton
I spoke once to a bud in construction it's basically the cost of an addition. As mentioned modern attics arent ready to be turned in to a living/usable space.

You'd need electrical HVAC and or plumbing and major structural work.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 29, 2011
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Mississauga
There was a Holmes on Homes episode several year ago where the homeowner wanted to turn their attic to living space. It was a massive undertaking.
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Jun 11, 2005
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Mississauga
CNeufeld wrote: Thinking about carrying clean clothes up that circular stairway makes my brain hurt. Can't see anyone really wanting to do that on a regular basis, nor climbing up/down those stairs on a daily basis to get dressed in the morning.

Our house is a "1.5" story house. Basically, the second floor is similar to your first picture, with extra width and slightly higher vertical walls on the sides. I agree that trying to convert a "regular" attic to an open/livable space would be an expensive proposition.

In our case, we had 2 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Very small closets (like 4 to 6 ft^2). We ended up making it "right for us" by converting the secondary bedroom into a laundry/closet area and enlarging the bathroom, and removing the walls for the master bedroom. Basically making it a "master suite", I guess. The spare bedroom is now in the basement. My suggestion for you would be to consider options like that, over trying to make non-livable space livable.

C
Agree completely. This attic would be like treadmills. Used for 6 months then forgotten. lol
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Feb 11, 2007
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Your best bet it so just use it as storage for items that won't be damaged by the heat/cold. You can put things like halloween and xmas decorations in sealed containers and store them up there since you only need to get at them once a year.
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Oct 23, 2008
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rdx wrote: Image
I would be afraid to go up and down those stairs every day. I can only imagine my wife trying to go down that with a dress on. And laundry too... your plan better have a laundry elevator installed too.
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Deal Fanatic
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Dec 27, 2009
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That doesn't look convenient at all (going up and down that for a shirt, etc). Also, seems like it would be far too much of a pain in the ass to even contemplate having it built. I would make due with my existing closet (for the record, we have zero walk in closets in our house and we have survived).
Sr. Member
Oct 3, 2011
583 posts
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OTTAWA
Where was I reading that it becomes a huge pain in the ass to properly insulate the attic addition? You'll have spots where it will not be possible to put an appropriate amount of insulation where the tops of the new walls meet the roof. Provided you have enough height in the attic, provided that you can properly install a means to go up and down that is not dangerous. I'm not sure why people in canada would even want to convert their attic to a livable space. Just build another level onto the house, it will work better in the long run and probably be cheaper to heat and cool it.
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Jul 14, 2008
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Maybe the best option is NOT to convert your attic into a livable space?
"But the big one people always ask me about is the attic. Attics aren’t meant to be living spaces, so turning yours into one requires a lot of money, work, permits and engineering. It can also lead to problems.

An attic’s job is to help insulate the house, prevent heat from escaping and deter condensation that can cause mould and/or rot. Turning it into a living space means changing the roof, electrical, HVAC and most important, the structure.

Most attic floors are built with 2x4s, meant only to support the roof above and ceiling below — they aren’t strong enough to support people, storage and/or furniture. The floor joists would need to be reinforced with 2x6s to carry the weight load to the outside walls.

You’ll also need stairs, and that means making sure you have enough headroom; they need to be legal and safe.

You’ll have a cathedral ceiling — that is, a ceiling with minimal space between the roof and the finished ceiling, space that usually isn’t enough for adequate insulation and proper airflow.

And what about heating? Can your furnace handle heating that additional space? There’s work and cost involved in adding the extra ductwork, heat registers and a cold-air return.

I would avoid it altogether and use your attic for what it’s built to do: protect your home."
https://nationalpost.com/life/homes/mik ... o-renovate

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