How Sellers Can Finish Their Attic for Added ROI

 August 14, 2015

If there is one thing homebuyers love, it is space. While sellers cannot change the size of their rooms, they can add square feet by focusing on their attics. They can convert these unused rooms into useful spaces. This is an inexpensive way of increasing the livable space in a home. Attics, unlike basements, are dry and devoid of major home appliances. They are also quiet and can make excellent home offices, art studios, TV rooms, and even bedrooms. While every attic is different, there are some common things sellers can do to add value.

Stick to the “Rule of 7’s”

For a completed attic to be converted into a room, it must fulfill the same living requirements of the other rooms. It must be at least 7 feet high, 7 feet wide, and have a minimum of 70 square feet available (7 feet in each direction). Tell sellers to measure the space to determine the square footage. They can also ask a contractor or building official to examine the space. Once they establish their attics satisfy the above criteria, they can embark on the project.

Reinforce the Flooring

Attic floors need to be strengthened with extra joists and a subfloor. Regular attic floor joists have smaller dimension lumber which needs to be reinforced before incorporating a loft. Attics in houses constructed before 1950 may need foundation work. Strengthening attic floor joists to integrate an upper floor is simpler than adding ground-floor joists because homeowners can reinforce the joist system from above. They can combine the joists with two-by-six boards or use larger boards for stronger floors. While the new joists will raise the floor significantly, it will be stronger and hold heavy furniture without sagging.

Insulate the Walls and Ceiling

Fist determine if your attic will need additional ventilation/air conditioning/heating into the space. If so, consult with an HVAC contractor to ensure you bring in enough insulation after the ductwork is added. An attic that’s not properly insulated can affect a home’s heating and ventilation. Tell your sellers to set aside some money for the “fluffy stuff.” If their attics are already finished, they should make holes in the knee walls and the ceiling so as to insulate the areas. Thankfully, most ceilings and walls aren’t difficult to patch. Attic decking that holds heating and cooling units or hot water tanks should be raised above ceiling joists to create room for adequate insulation. After insulating the room, homeowners should hang drywall.

Prime and Paint the Walls

To cover the new drywall, homeowners may have to use 2-3 coats of paint. They should apply a primer coat to create a flat surface before putting up wallpaper or decorating the walls. When painting, they should use white paint which creates a sense of space in cramped areas. It is important to choose one color because using multiple colors can make an attic feel smaller.

Get the Proper Permit

To ensure the conversion is legal and up to code, sellers should schedule an inspection once it is finished. This way, they will be able to obtain the essential building permit from the city’s housing commission or planning department. This step is very important and must not be skipped. Sellers who skip it can get into legal trouble if they try to sell their homes without the necessary legal permits. Advise your sellers to play it safe and get the right paperwork.

If buyers love many things in a home, chances are they will make an offer. One of the things buyers love is space. Encourage sellers to maximize space by finishing their attics. They should make the rooms look outstanding and draw attention to their most alluring features. Remind them that the more move-in ready their homes look, the more likely they are to attract buyers.


Ronique Gibson

By Ronique Gibson

Ronique Gibson is an Associate Architect and a LEED Accredited Professional, who has been in the design industry for over 13 years. She started her design blog in 2009 and today it has become a premier destination for helping homeowners with everyday lifestyle challenges. Her readers check in daily for help with their homes, DIY project ideas, recipes, crafts, and inspiration to beautify and enjoy their homes.