The basic structure already exists, so it is a lot cheaper to convert an attic than building a home extension. However, it’s not without difficulties. You have to be aware of a few things before you can have a safe, comfortable and legal attic.
The Legal Requirements of Attic Conversions
Except (probably) for the simple job of putting in an attic ladder and storing light items in your attic, council approval will probably be needed for attic conversions. Each state has different regulations, but here are the typical rules you must follow:
- Provide proof that your attic will be structurally sound and has the capacity to carry the weight of furniture and inhabitants
- Entrance to the attic must be safe and comply with Australian Standard regulations
- The conversion costs may mean a building permit must be obtained
A licensed or registered building may need to be hired to undertake the conversion
Regardless of how simple your attic conversion may be, consult your local council first. If building approval is needed, you will be required to submit plans and may need to enlist the help of a structural engineer to assist you in designing and constructing a safe attic.
Your attic must have the following if it is to be a comfortable living space:
- Enough head space
- Source of natural light
You can still create a living space even if your house has a peaked roof and not much standing head space. Determine which areas you can comfortably walk to. Those will be turned into the main living spaces. If you are converting your attic into a bedroom, there should be space to allow you to walk to the bed, but head space is not needed at the foot of the bed.
Installing skylights is an ideal and inexpensive way to give an attic both natural light and ventilation. Ventilating skylights, also known as roof windows, feature opening mechanisms. Since it is best to have cross-ventilation, put skylights on both sides of the room if possible.
For storage, you can use the areas where there is limited or no head room. A little creativity may be needed to come up with storage solutions, but you will be able to find some ingenious storage solutions out there. One example is purchasing storage boxes and think of ways you can stack them to maximise the available storage space. Another is having custom-made storage installed in the eaves of the attic, taking advantage of all open spaces with drawers and cupboards.
Don’t rush in designing your attic conversion and don’t reject the features you need to make it comfy. Your attic could become your haven and if you decide to sell, a beautiful attic can boost the value of your home, and its selling price, too.