How to Add More Living Space to Your Home

December 13, 2017

Do you love your neighborhood but are in dire need of more space? Are you planning or growing your family or moving aging relatives into your home? If so, consider renovating your attic into a whole new living space, or remodeling your basement to add more functionality. Check out our tips below on how to make the most of your renovation! 


1. Add an Attic Dormer 

Most attics are short on ceiling height and, because of the roof shape, usable floor area. Adding a dormer for extra ceiling height, usable space and light is a great way to maximize that limited space. A dormer can be small, as in a Cape Cod's dog house dormer, or large, as in a shed dormer. 

The wonderful aspect of implementing a dormer is that it expands the headroom of the attic space while still allowing the room to be finished. The space between the roof trusses and drywall can be insulated, maximizing your new attic space's energy efficiency. 


Often the floor structure of an attic is designed for the smallest of loads. So some structural upgrading might be required to use the attic as living area. If so, work with an qualified builder to ensure that the new structure complies with your building code.
Photo by Gast Architects
2. Reconfigure the Stairs

Stairs to an attic or basement can often be less than adequate to safely move people up and down. This means that you may have to rebuild or even add stairs to turn the attic or basement into usable living space. So make sure that the stairs comply with local building codes. Working with a qualified builder is key if your design requires the moving of walls, as it is important to not compromise the structural integrity of your home. 


Photo by Landmark Lofts

3. Add More Storage

 Though not useful as a living area, the spaces under the roof are terrific for creating built-in storage or sleeping alcoves for children.

One of the most popular choices in converting an attic space is to add a master bedroom. Using the nooks that are too low for sleeping under is ideal for adding  storage units that act as clothing and shoe compartments. 




Non-structural beams, as the rustic beams seen below, are a great way to add architectural details to the newly renovated space. 





 4. Add Multipurpose Windows

Adding windows to your basement remodel not only adds light, but also takes safety into consideration. Minor excavation will need to take place to make room for the addition of a window well. This is especially necessary for basements that do not have a walkout. 

Most, if not all, codes require that bedrooms be equipped with an emergency exit. And even if your local code doesn't require such an exit, it's certainly good practice to have one. The nice part of having a window well is that it can be designed to be aesthetically appealing by implementing a garden ledge showcasing your favorite ornamental plants.  



Photo by Replacement Housing Services Consortium




Photo by Dyna Contracting


5. Installing an Attic or Basement Bathroom
Adding a bathroom to either an attic or a basement often makes a lot of sense. If in the attic, try to stack your plumbing lines to avoid costly plumbing runs. A basement bathroom often means that an ejector pit and pump are necessary. Make sure you have easy access to any new plumbing, so that repairs and replacements can be made without too much hassle.
And if you're adding a bath to an attic remember the importance of reinforcing the floor to handle all of that weight you'll be adding to the existing structure. A qualified contractor will be able to guide you through this process of the structural design. 



Photo by Marcye Philbrook




Photo by Teness Herman



6. Installing Additional Heating & Cooling
Sometimes it's impractical to extend the existing systems to heat and cool a newly finished basement or expanded and finished attic. Stand-alone and dedicated systems could be better solutions. The best options are to install radiant heat in the basement floor if you are finishing the basement, and a wall-mounted split system if you are finishing the attic.



If you live in the Northern Virginia area and you’re interested in a free estimate, or would like to know how Lensis Builders, Inc. can make your home even better, give us a call at 703-367-8999 or fill out a short contact form. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next project, visit our Pinterest page.