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Homeowners look upward when home design calls for more livable space

August 02, 2013

Area RugAn unfinished attic presents homeowners with an opportunity to expand their livable space. It can be a home office, a playroom or a master bedroom with a sitting area set aside for relaxing. Outfit it with attractive furniture and an area rug with subtle prints from Shaw Floors' Woven Expressions collection and you've got an enviable new room.

According to the Home Improvement Research Institute, the remodeling market is definitely on the rise. Consumer demand grew by nearly 5 percent last year and is expected to increase by 4 percent by the end of 2013. And, while the cost of attic remodeling has gone up by more than one-third in recent years, the institute reported there's still a return on investment that homeowners can expect from having a newly remodeled space.

Construction requirements
An important consideration for homeowners who are hoping to re-work their attics into a new room design is to meet building codes specific to attic renovations. For instance, a full-size staircase leading to the new space and a minimum 6-foot, 8-inch clearance overhead is required, according to ThisOldHouse.com. A second way out, which can be a window, is also needed for fire safety.

The rest of the living area must have at least 7 feet of headroom, although sections of the attic that have lower clearance can be used for storage. Another consideration is the floor support, since attics in newer homes aren't built for living space. As a result, attic floors need to be reinforced with added joists and a new subfloor.

Green building
More homeowners are becoming well-versed in green building practices in home design and looking for ways to save on their utility bills. Contractors are also stepping up their use of sustainable building materials and energy-efficient fixtures.

Adding windows, ceiling or window fans and air conditioning is needed to address heat and moisture that naturally rises within a structure. Covering windows with cellular shades is another way to modulate temperatures because they offer good insulation from both cold drafts and strong sunlight.

Contractors aren't just getting customers who want to renovate their attics. They are also fielding more requests to finish basements, enclose porches and convert garages into livable space. Whether a recent college graduate is returning home or an elderly relative is moving in, the need to reconfigure living space is expected to be a trend among homeowners for some time.