9
Jan

Roof Insulation Captures Escaping Energy

Roof Insulation Captures Escaping Energy

Attic insulation

 

When you turn on the furnace, your HVAC system is not the only thing keeping your house warm; proper insulation keeps this generated heat inside the home. Even though your walls, floors, and ceilings should all be equally padded, don’t forget that your roof is also responsible for maintaining temperature control. Like wearing a stocking cap on a cold winter’s day, the top of your house is what holds in the heat. And since heat always rises, it is critical that you have adequate roof insulation in order to keep your energy from escaping.

Bundle Up

By adding roof insulation to your home, you will be able to save money because your furnace will no longer have to run as often, keeping your energy bills low. Although you may already have installed attic insulation, it doesn’t hurt to inspect this area occasionally. The padding may have become packed due to moisture or aging, and therefore its R-value (a particular scale of thermal resistance: higher values equal more insulating power) may have decreased over time. So it never hurts to “bundle up” and add to your pre-existing padding so that it can maintain its proper strength.

First, measure the amount of attic insulation you already have installed and then convert that particular height into R-value. Most old homes have about a half-foot which would be an R-value of about 10-20, and should be then supplemented so that this value hits between 20-40. Much of this depends on your regional climate; colder areas of the country should shoot for higher R-values. As you measure, always make sure you wear proper protection (gloves, glasses, long sleeves) to guard against skin irritation. Also, for comfort, avoid hot days so that the task doesn’t become a chore; and for safety, always make sure you watch your footing to avoid falling through unsupported areas of the attic.

So Many Choices

This material comes in many forms, so make sure you choose the best type for you and your particular roofing system:

  • Fiberglass Batts: Arrives in long blankets that can be laid over rafters and is often used in sloped structures due to its ability to fit into tight corners. It usually has an R-value of 3 per square inch.
  • Fiberboard: Rigid squares of fiberglass great for flat roofs since they are easily able to fit next to one another on a level surface.
  • Loose Fill: Available in either fiberglass or cellulose form (cellulose has an R-value of 3 per square inch), these smaller fragments can be dropped by hand or blown-in. It’s great for sloped roofs that have hard to reach areas. It can be a bit difficult to install, so this will probably need to done by a professional, but it is extremely efficient because it can cover any tiny space as it settles.

If you have an upstairs storage space, attic insulation can be added to it at any time and with minimal effort. However, for homes without an attic it may be difficult to add roof insulation without extensive re-construction, so consider all your options and always consult a professional for further advice. The installation itself may be somewhat expensive, but in the long run you’ll actually save money. Remember: if you invest in the preparation now, you’ll always reap the benefits later.

9
Jan

Attic Fans Cool the Entire Home

Attic Fans Cool the Entire Home

Attic vent

During the hot summer months, attic temperatures can reach up to 160 degrees, and even though passive cooling systems, such as ridge vents, can certainly disperse the heat, more efficient ventilation can be attained through the use of attic fans. Though these fans can certainly cool down your attic, they have a much broader function: whole house ventilation.

In the Attic

During the summer, your attic acts as a giant radiator, retaining heat which can end up ruining your stored possessions. This built-up heat can also spill over into the rest your home, causing your utility bills to steadily climb. In the winter, although the attic is certainly cooled off, moisture can eventually build up on the interior of the roof, creating havoc on your household structure (mildew, mold, peeling paint, decaying shingles, warped beams and floorboards). Since you don’t want to waste energy by heating or cooling your attic, the most efficient way to solve these problems is simple ventilation.

Even though natural ventilation can alleviate a lot of problems, attic fans can increase the air flow by pulling in air outside of your home and pushing it out through attic vents. Just as with central air conditioners, when the air in the attic hits a certain pre-set temperature, the fan will pull in cooler external air and push out the warmer air at a faster rate than passive ventilation systems that normally have to wait until the air gets so hot that it expands and slowly floats out through the vents on its own. For the winter months, these fans can also come with a humidistat that can pull moisture out of the air in order to prevent dampness.

Whole House Fan

These fans not only cool off your attic, they can be designed to ventilate your entire house. Central air can be very expensive and inefficient. Plus, if you live in an older house without central air, why spend all that money on new units and duct work when attic fans can to the job for you. These fans are often installed in hallways and work on the same principle: by opening up your windows, they pull in the cooler outside air, move it quickly throughout your home, and release it through your attic, thereby cooling the entire house without all the extra costs. Of course it takes electricity to operate the fan, but it uses substantially less than central air; and if you want to avoid additional energy costs, you may want to look into the newest innovations in ventilation systems.

Solar Attic Fans

A solar attic fan is the newest invention in the heating and cooling industry. They are installed on the roofs of most homes and by collecting natural energy from the sun they can power a whole house fan with the same efficiency as electrical units. Since they run on natural resources, they cut down on utility costs, are more environmentally friendly, and don’t take up as much room in the home. They only operate when the sun is shining, but since removing excessive heat is usually the number one task of any attic fan, this is usually not a problem.

When it comes to ventilating your attic, always consult a professional. Though one fan is usually sufficient, it all depends on your personal priorities: cost, efficiency, and function. Do you want additional energy savings? Do you have a bigger attic to ventilate? Are you concerned about just the upstairs or the entire house? Are solar attic fans right for you? These questions can be better answered by consulting an experienced contractor who can impart expert advice and ensure quality installation.

9
Jan

Insulating an Attic

Insulating an Attic

Attic insulation

If you’re looking for your next home improvement project and want to do something sensible that has immediate returns on your investment, consider installing or upgrading your attic insulation. More than any other place in the home, quality insulation in the attic promises to give you the most benefits. Studies show that most homes will pay for the cost of installing attic insulation within 3-6 years. It may not sound sexy, but attic insulation is one of best functional home improvement projects out there.

Insulating an Attic from the Heat and the Cold

More heat is lost through poor attic insulation than from any other place in your home. If you think about it, it makes sense. Heat rises and when it rises through your home, it ends up leaking through the attic. On the other hand, many attics are the farthest place in the home from the central air conditioning and can be the hottest room in the house. Thus, attics need to be insulated from the heat and the cold. Whether you’re trying to improve the energy-efficiency of your home or make your attic space comfortable, attic insulation is almost universally a great idea.

Attic Insulation Installation

Blown cellulose or fiberglass insulation tend to be the insulating materials of choice in most areas of the home, and the attic is no different. This especially holds true when laying new insulation over the old. If you have an older home, you’ll need to make sure there’s no asbestos in your old attic insulation. (If in doubt about asbestos, consult with an insulation contractor for advice.)

Blown insulation generally covers better in an existing house and is more economical—just be sure you get quotes by R-value—not in inches, as that will vary among many different products. Also, be sure your quotes include the minimum depth in inches and that the number of bags to be used match the manufacturer’s specifications.

Naturally, the cost of installing attic insulation varies greatly depending on your situation. Current insulating values, desired insulating values, size of your home, attic accessibility, and other local factors will all influence the total cost. Installing attic insulation can be as cheap as a couple hundred dollars or expensive as several thousand. Be sure to get multiple, clearly-stated, written estimates to gauge how expensive the project will be.

Vapor Barriers and Attic Ventilation

Attics and roofs are much more complicated than simply sheltering your home’s interior from the harsh elements of the weather. Along with proper insulating qualities, a well-constructed attic must keep moisture from forming on your roof but allow air to circulate, bringing in fresh outside air. Attic insulation should include a vapor barrier between the insulation and the interior surface to prevent condensation from infiltrating your roof. Condensation can ruin the insulation itself, cause rot in your roof framing, and blister paint.

The hot air that accumulates in your attic must be allowed to vent to keep your air conditioner from over-working. In the winter, temperature differences can cause the formation of ice dams that threaten serious damage to your roof. Covering existing attic vents with insulation can be a catastrophic mistake. If your attic doesn’t already have vents, they may need to be added with installing the attic insulation.

9
Jan

Gable Vents: Let Your Attic Breathe

Gable Vents: Let Your Attic Breathe

Gable Venting

 

Gable vents are usually installed on the exterior wall of your attic in order to create proper air circulation during extreme climate conditions. In months of intense weather, the inside of your house can be regulated with heating and cooling systems. But since you don’t bother to heat your attic and hot air always rises, this roof space is often left alone to bear the brunt of significant temperature shifts. In the summer, humidity can build up in your attic, overheating this storage area and damaging your possessions. Plus, excess heat can seep into other parts of your house, making your utility bill rise. During the winter, stagnant air can cause condensation to form in your attic as well, once again putting your house at risk for mold, mildew, and leaks. Therefore it is always important to ventilate your attic in order to keep the air moving and the temperature regulated.

A Touch of Design

Unlike other passive venting systems, such as soffit or ridge vents, gable vents are meant to be seen. They are made visible on the front of a house or roof and add an architectural element to an otherwise invisible opening. Most venting systems are placed along unseen areas of the roof, but these particular vents offer all the functional benefits of these other exhaust openings and add an interesting accent to a home’s exterior. Most of the time, these large openings are centered in the area where two slopes of a roof join into the triangle, and they are framed to come in many different sizes (depending upon the size of your attic) and shapes (octagon, circle, triangle, cathedral, diamond). They are then covered with elegant, horizontal slats (often called louvers) constructed of wood, vinyl, or metal for an elegantly traditional look. Inside, a mesh screen is usually attached to keep out insects or other vermin, but outside they create an attractive accent for your home’s exterior. And since they can come in any shape, color, or material, you can match any product with your own tastes and styles.

Is One Enough?

Though gable vents are nice to look at and serve the same function as other ventilation systems (keeping out the rain, preventing leakage, avoiding deterioration of materials in attic, lowering utility costs), they may not be able to do it alone. Depending on the size of your attic, they may need to work in conjunction with soffit or ridge vents in order for your attic to be truly aerated. The nice thing about passive venting systems is that they are cheap, easy to maintain, save money, and maximize the area in your roof since you won’t have to waste space and money running a whole-house fan. However, if you don’t want to invest in supplementary vents, then you have the option of buying a ventilator for your gable vent. This small fan attaches to the opening and pushes the stagnant air in and out, creating an air flow and saving you from installing additional ventilation.

9
Jan

Ridge Vents Can Help Let Off Some Steam

Ridge Vents Can Help Let Off Some Steam

Attic vents

 

You probably only enter your attic when you need the occasional memento or when you retrieve your Christmas decorations. Therefore, you probably rarely get a sense of what goes on up there all year long. Since roofs are designed to keep out external forces, such as rain, snow, and wind, they are sealed weather-tight. Of course you want this for your roof, but this air-tight seal can also trap hot and cold air in your attic if it is not properly ventilated.

You may be asking yourself: Who cares if my attic gets hot or cold? It’s not a habitable part of your home and you’re certainly not going to air condition it in the summer and heat it in the winter. However, like any part of investing in your house, you have to make sure everything is being maintained properly. The attic is no exception; and ridge vents are your answer.

Problems to Avoid

If your attic is not properly ventilated, several problems can occur. In extreme climate months (summer and winter), the possessions in your attic may be at risk. Can you imagine what your photo album looks like when the temperature in your attic hits 160 degrees? In the winter, frost can form on the underside of your roof, causing condensation and eventual dripping, putting everything you own at risk, not to mention damage to your roof joists and floorboards. And though you’re not intentionally heating or cooling your attic, the hot and cold air that this space takes on will eventually seep over into the rest of your home’s interior, making your utility bills increase unless everything is correctly ventilated.

How It Works

Ridge vents are also excellent in that there will be no holes in your roof for turbines or other ventilation methods. This makes for a nice, smooth continuous roof, which can be quite striking.

To avoid long-term repair costs, a simple way to circulate air through an attic is with ridge vents. By installing soffit vents behind or above your gutter system, air is then able to enter your attic, and through the natural forces of wind and thermal convection this air then circulates through your attic and exits through the peak of your roof through ridge vents. This floating exchange of air keeps your attic cool in the summer and dry in the winter, and the wind outside can even expedite this process by sucking out any warm air and moisture more quickly. These vents work all year long and are often designed to blend in with your roof so that they become invisible to onlookers.

Don’t Break the Seal

Though these ventilations systems allow musty air to escape your attic, they are also specially designed to keep precipitation out. They often come with external baffles or weather stripping to continually deflect any rain, snow, or other outdoor threats. So though you are opening your attic to fresh air, you’re not welcoming unwanted intrusions.

Some Helpful Tips

If you already have a ventilation system, yet your attic still makes you want to pass out from the heat, you may have to re-invest in new vents. Plus, if you have an older home, you’re system may be out of date. So always consult with a roofing contractor to see if your system is up to code. Also, when it comes to installation, it’s best to leave it to the professionals: ventilation systems use complicated laws of physics so all the parts have to work in unison. Everything has to be put in their proper place, otherwise it won’t work. Therefore, to relieve any additional worries or stress, leave this job to the people who know what they’re doing.

9
Jan

Attic Ventilation Myths That are Off the Charts

Attic Ventilation Myths That are Off the Charts

Attic vent

 

Few things are more misunderstood about the home than attic ventilation. In essence, all ventilation is about circulating air to keep it fresh and to reduce moisture levels. About 90 percent of homes in the US have unreasonably high levels of moisture. Understanding whether your home could benefit from some form of attic ventilation might just be, if not a life-saver, a roof-saver. Here are some of the myths and the facts you need to know about attic ventilation.

1. More Attic Ventilation is Good

Just like properly sizing your furnace and air conditioning unit, you want precisely the right amount of attic ventilation for your home. Insufficient ventilation can lead to moisture problems during the winter and decreased energy efficiency during the summer but too much ventilation can be just as bad, if not worse. Roof vents create an additional roof penetration, essentially another place of vulnerability where leaks can occur. Some vents are necessary, but you don’t want to needlessly increase the number of roof penetrations. More than leaks, these seams can cause blowouts during a hurricane or allow sparks from a wildfire to enter your home and set it ablaze.

So, how much ventilation should you have? Without exception, you should talk to a professional to determine what your home requires. Generally speaking, you need a ratio of 1:300, where for every 300 square feet of ceiling space, you need 1 square foot of attic ventilation. That said, air resistance and interference (such as vent grates) reduces the area of true ventilation. In other words, the entire vent opening doesn’t count as vented space.

2. Roof Vents are for Warmer Climates

Too many people believe the importance of roof ventilation is to increase energy efficiency during the summer. Good roof ventilation can do this, but shingle color, sun exposure and insulation are exponentially more important to overall energy efficiency than ventilation. Sure, installing roof vents for older homes can reduce your hot air during the summer, but there are probably more low-risk, cost-effective ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Meanwhile, preventing moisture damage is a much greater benefit and applies to colder climates more than warmer ones. In fact, the colder the climate, the more likely it is that your home will benefit from attic ventilation. In order to install an unvented roofing system in colder climates, you’ll need highly rated, rigid insulation to prevent condensation on your roof sheathing. In warmer climates, you don’t need to worry about condensation. Think about how often dew forms on your grass. In these climates, hot attic spaces are eliminated by installing a thermal barrier along the roof line, instead of the attic floor.

3. Roof Vents Remove Warm Air during the Winter

Too many people believe that because heat rises, ventilating an attic space during the winter means you’re releasing warm air and creating a drag on your heating efficiency. If this is true, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about than letting warm air escape from your home. Poor insulation is usually the culprit, although if you enter the attic on sunny, winter day, your attic space can be warmed by the sun more than your furnace.

Unless your roofing system has insulation on the roofing deck and is designed without ventilation, your furnace should not be heating your attic. Worse yet, inadequate insulation is almost surely allowing moisture-laden air into your attic. When this warm, moist air hits your roof, it’s likely to form condensation that will lead to further deterioration of your insulation and/or wood rot. If you think this might be a concern, wait till the sun goes down and measure the temperature in your attic. It should be pretty close to the outdoor temperature.

4. Research Studies

Numerous studies have been completed regarding the effectiveness and optimization of general roof ventilation and particular types of roof vents. The benefit of roof ventilation is undisputed. Laboratory setting are a poor indicator of real world wind and weather behaviors. Moreover, regional differences magnify certain traits of roof ventilation over time. What works best in San Antonio, TX is probably not the same as what works best in Cleveland, OH.

In some ways, roof ventilation is as much as an art as it is a science, and installing your own roof vents based on something you read online is like trying to diagnose a skin rash using WebMD. Finding a trusted and experienced roofer who has worked in your region for his or her entire career is a better for your particular roof than any research study or online “expert.”

5. I Have Roof Vents, So I Have Roof Ventilation

While hardly anybody agrees on the best roof ventilation system, everybody agrees some roof vents do hardly any good at all. Take, for example, ridge vents. The majority of roofing experts agree that ridge vents are the most effective and cost-effective roof vents available. Without baffles (blinders that prevent outside air from crossing over the vent), a ridge vent may create almost no ventilation at all. Gable vents may circulate air through only a small percentage of your attic. Static, roof-line, vents are effective for ventilation but generally aren’t recommended due to issues with leaks. Soffit vents may leave air trapped at the top of your attic. Most effective ventilation uses a ridge-and-soffit continuous ventilation system, but even these designs can vary from roof to roof.

If you don’t know how your roof vents work, or if you’re unsure about your attic ventilation in general, you should talk to a roof inspector about your current system and any inherent weaknesses that may be at work. The risk/reward for having no ventilation or poor ventilation, along with the negligible cost of installing a good-working ventilation system makes them one of the unforgivable sins of home maintenance negligence.

9
Jan

Make Use of Forgotten Space with Attic Remodeling

Make Use of Forgotten Space with Attic Remodeling

Remodeled attic

 

One of the most overlooked areas of a home is the attic. Often forgotten except to store old boxes and keepsakes, attics actually have a lot of potential when it comes to remodeling your home, creating more living space, and opening up the space you already have. Here’s some attic remodeling ideas, as well as some common challenges most attic remodels face.

Attic Remodeling: The Possibilities

When most people think of remodeling attic space, they often think of lofts or other simple renovations to the space. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, however. If you’re still in the planning process, here’s a list of some popular remodeling projects involving attic spaces to get your gears turning:

  • Vaulted Ceilings: Most people think extra living spaces when they consider remodeling attic space, but what about opening up living areas you already have? Transforming a neglected attic into vaulted ceilings for your living room or great room can change the entire feel of your home in one easy renovation.
  • More Windows: Besides creating more space indoors, opening up the attic to high ceilings also makes room for the addition of large windows to let more natural light into your home.
  • Extra Bedrooms: Provided your attic ceiling is tall enough, your attic can also be an excellent place to add extra bedrooms. Guest bedrooms and bedrooms for children and teens are particularly well suited to the smaller spaces that are common in attic remodels.
  • Playrooms: Playrooms for children are a perfect fit for attic remodeling. Attic playrooms provide a nice place for children to get away from adults and do their own thing, not to mention they are ideal for keeping toys and messes contained and out of sight.
  • Lofts and Office Space: Okay, we went here anyway. But only because lofts are a great use of attic space. They work great in conjunction with larger remodeling projects such as introducing vaulted ceilings into your home and can also add a little more flexibility to remodeling attic space since they don’t have the same code requirements that bedrooms do when it comes to access.

Some Things to Look out for with Attic Remodeling

Attic remodeling is full of possibility, however you should keep in mind that there are some challenges when it comes to remodeling attic space. The first is ceiling height. Consider 5 feet to be the absolute minimum height for a usable space, and know that even that is pushing it. You’ll be hitting your head on a regular basis even if you do abide by this rule. Raising or modifying your roof is always an option, though the high costs of such a project can be prohibitive in the end. The second challenge you may run into is whether the floor of your attic can support a usable living space. It’s not unlikely that you might have to reinforce or replace the floor to safely accommodate living areas. Finally, keep in mind the approach. You’ll need a stairway to reach your new attic space, so it’s important that you plan space accordingly. Spiral staircases can save room, and if your attic remodel doesn’t include bedrooms, then ladders are also an option.

Consult with a Professional

Whether you plan to do your remodel yourself or hire a contractor, it’s important that you have the space evaluated ahead of time so you know what you’re getting into. Attic floors and roof joists often play a large structural role in holding your home together, and your home’s infrastructure, including wiring, plumbing, and ductwork is often housed in your attic as well. Hiring an architect, contractor, or engineer to come in and do a preliminary evaluation of your attic space can help prepare you for the remodeling project to come, and let you know whether you attic is a good candidate for remodeling in the first place.

9
Jan

Roof & Attic Ventilation – Extend Your Roof’s Lifespan

Roof & Attic Ventilation – Extend Your Roof’s Lifespan

Roof Ventilation

 

More than ever, homeowners are frustrated by poor-performing roofing products, especially when a new roof costs between $5,000 and $10,000 and lasts only 12 to 15 years. In some cases, it is a troublesome brand of materials. More often, however, inadequate attic ventilation is the culprit. Building standards, driven by energy shortages, have sewn up the homes that we live in tighter than a drum. Surprisingly, standards of ventilation adopted in the 1930s are still in use today. Therefore, most homes are woefully under-ventilated.

Home Ventilation and Energy-Efficiency

If you take a moment and think about it, it’s easy to understand why ventilation and energy-efficiency work as a catch-22. Many of the principles of creating an energy-efficient home deal with locking air inside the home to prevent heat loss. This, in turn, creates an environment of continuously recycled air. In recent years, indoor air pollution has become a bigger problem than outdoor air pollution. Air filtration systems can help purify this recycled air, but energy-efficient homes lock in moisture as well as air. This can lead to condensation forming on your windows, mold problems, and roofing failures caused by wood rot and ice dams. Roof ventilation is the best and, in many cases, the only way to prevent these air and moisture problems.

Roof Ventilation

Roof ventilation is a major concern to anyone who is contemplating having their home re-roofed. It is common for the average household to produce from four to five pounds of water vapor per day. To illustrate how much water that is, go to your kitchen sink, fill an empty one-gallon container with water, and pour that on the floor. In poorly ventilated homes, this moisture has nowhere to go. So it forms condensation on the underside of the plywood sheeting of the roof, causing the plywood to expand, buckle, and delaminate. Naturally, this degrading plywood has a detrimental effect on the roofing, including reduced nail holding power, wind damage due to an uneven deck, and stress cracks due to unstable decking materials. This is why turbine ventilators should never be covered up in the winter.

Attic Ventilation Systems

During the summer, when temperatures can soar above 100 degrees, your attic is 145 degrees and the temperature on your new roof is nearly 180 degrees. It is now more important than ever for a total roof ventilation system. A proper attic vent system consists of an intake and an exhaust. Most often, this system works much like your fireplace. As warm air rises, it creates a slight suction at the intake vents. This relatively cooler air removes excess heat from the underside of the sheeting as it exits the exhaust. This cycle of heat exchange regulates the temperatures of the new shingle, saving your roofing investment from becoming a cinder.

When it comes to ventilation, more is always better. Choices are many for both attic and roof ventilation. The turbine ventilators are a good product, but the aesthetics are poor. They can also become a maintenance headache as they get older. Dormer vents are another way to go. They are simple and can be installed out of sight at the rear of the building. Proper attic ventilation in your new roof may be the difference between a successful, long-lived roof and a complete failure in a very short period of time. Considering the high cost of re-roofing the average home, a few hundred dollars for additional attic ventilation is, indeed, a very wise investment.

9
Jan

Move On Up with Attic Conversions

Move On Up with Attic Conversions

Converted attic

Many homeowners, when their family grows too big for a small house, will consider room extensions to create additional square footage and space. However, new additions can be expensive, time-consuming, and can ruin the look of your exterior facade. Instead, many people decide it best to “build up” by remodeling their upstairs storage area. An attic conversion allows you to utilize used space to its greatest potential. Instead of building new additions horizontally, which can also eat up valuable lawn and garden area, renovating vertically is an easy way to develop pre-existing square footage into suitable living spaces.

Things to Think About

Before you make a decision about a major attic renovation, you’ll first want to ask yourself a few questions. You want to make sure you have a clear goal in mind before hiring a contractor so that you’ll be able to communicate your ideas better. By considering these questions about the project beforehand, you and your contractor will both be able to get on the same page and work towards a final, common vision.

  • What is its purpose? Do you want it to be a master bedroom, a guest bedroom, a library, or a home office? Many times these spaces make for a unique loft that you can use as an entertainment area. In fact if you think about this upstairs space like you would a finished basement, many new ideas begin to pop up: a pool table, a wet bar, or maybe a home theater are all possibilities.
  • Are there obstacles? Look at the space and see what difficulties will have to be overcome. Is the space big enough to work with? Is there enough headroom? Is the roof pitched? Do these “obstacles” create inconvenience or a unique look to the room? Are there beams and trusses taking up additional space? Is the floor reinforced to hold furniture? These are questions that contractors immediately think about, so inspect the area to make sure it’s worth it before committing to the project.
  • What isn’t there? Remember, many times these areas weren’t originally meant to be living spaces, so think about what will have to done to make it comfortable and safe. Unlike building additions where all the planning is customized to the new project, building around pre-constructed areas can be a pain. You could run into hidden problems by working with old materials and pre-existing structures.

So keep in mind all the things you’ll have to add in order to create an adequate living area. Do you have easy access? Many times these storage spaces come with pull down stairs, so you will probably have to add a walk-up staircase. This area is usually meant to be sealed up and ignored, so you’ll have to add windows, dormers, or skylights to brighten up the place. It can get really hot and very cold up there, so extra insulation will be required in your attic renovation. Also, there are the details of flooring, drywall, plumbing, and electrical work. So make sure you think about all the details you’ll need to invest in before calling the contractor.

The Code

Whenever you add extra living space to your home, you’ll need to get a building permit approved by the city. This also goes for attic conversions. Oftentimes the contractor will make sure everything is up to code and will take care of permits from the city, but you want to make sure the space is properly approved, otherwise it is against the law and your attic renovation could be unsafe to live in.

But once everything is set in motion, attic conversions are a fun and unique way to add square footage to your home. Though they can be a bit expensive and the actual remodel could take several weeks (all of this is contingent upon the size of the space), the final result will create more value to your house and the extra room is well worth the expense.

9
Jan

Are Dormers Right for Your Home? A Look at the Pros and Cons

Are Dormers Right for Your Home? A Look at the Pros and Cons

Dormers

 

Dormers — those windows you sometimes see sticking vertically from a slanted roof — can be a great way to add dimension, function and style to your home’s exterior. Of course, they can also be expensive and hard to install. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of dormers, as well as some of the different types available, to help you decide whether dormers are right for your home.

Benefits of Dormers: Dormers offer a numbers of benefits to homeowners and their families. First, dormers create better air flow, improve lighting, and increase height and square footage in the upper areas of the home. Second, dormers create an additional opening for use in situations requiring emergency exit from the home. And third, dormers add unique detail to a home’s interior and exterior, thereby increasing both the character and the property value of the home.

Drawbacks of Dormers: Despite the many advantages of dormers, they come with a few drawbacks as well. For starters, dormers may be difficult and expensive to install — particularly in existing structures. Not only will adding dormers require a significant amount of time and materials, but dormers may also require permits and licensing, as well as the work of an expert contractor and architect or engineer. Further, dormers generally require a fair amount of routine maintenance to ensure that they are adequately protected from the wears and tears of elemental exposure.

Common Dormer Types: There are a number of dormer types available. The dormers best suited to your home will depend on the aesthetics and construction of your home, the total budget for your project, and the benefits you wish to realize with the finished product. Here’s a look at some of the most common dormers:

  • Barrel: Includes an rounded roof at the top of the window.
  • Eyebrow: Includes a curved roof (the curve resembling that of an eyebrow) at the top of the window.
  • False or Blind: Includes a false dormer solely for improved exterior aesthetics (i.e., does not include benefits of added space, light and ventilation).
  • Flat: Includes a flat roof at the top of the window.
  • Gable: The most common dormer type, includes a pointed roof above the window.
  • Hipped: A gabled dormer that slopes backward.
  • Recessed: A dormer inset into the main roof.
  • Shed: A basic dormer structure designed to maximize space underneath.

Dormer Installation: Installing dormers is a project best left to the pros. Local experts will know which permits are required in your area, and they will also be able to address any structural, seasonal or material concerns.