Can You Convert Your Attic? 6 Questions to Ask

Maybe you have always dreamed of a better master bedroom, as large as the house and as private as can be. Or perhaps your teenager needs more space – but you can’t imagine where you’ll make it. Maybe you want a little rental unit, or a romp room for the kids. The answer you’ve been looking for might be, literally, over your head.

You have two choices if you want to add onto your home’s living space: either build outward, or convert an unlivable space into something you can live in, instead. As attractive as it sounds to add on to the house, it usually costs much more to build an addition, plus you have to worry about easements, buried lines and much more. For most people, it isn’t very practical.

Almost everyone has an attic, however. Of course, some simply aren’t practical to convert. Others are begging to be transformed. As an added bonus, an attic conversion increases your home’s value significantly. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, an attic bedroom adds almost 85 percent of the cost of the remodel to the home’s value (also referred to as the ROI, or return on investment). This analysis is based on an average cost of about $50,000, so if you can perform some of the work yourself, your ROI will be even higher.

Here are some essential considerations to help determine if attic conversion is feasible for your home.


1. Do You Have Rafters?

The first thing you need to determine to find out if your attic is convertible: Do you have rafters or trusses? Grab a flashlight and take a quick peek inside your attic and you’ll know.

Rafters are large internal beams that create a triangular structure with the floor at the bottom and the roof peak at the top. The inside of the triangle provides an opening that’s easily remodeled.

Trusses are a network of W-shaped boards that support the roof. With no central opening, one must be created. This should never be done by a DIYer, as the trusses are load bearing. A structural engineer must determine how to support the weight while modifying the trusses. In the end, it may not even be practical to convert an attic with trusses, due to the costs involved.

2. Is There a Staircase?

You probably don’t have a permanent staircase leading to your unfinished attic space – but you will need one. Building codes will not allow a permanent living area without a permanent stairs leading to it. (In the case of a rental unit, you may build a staircase on the outside of the house, if desired. Consult your local building code or a builder for more information.)

Stairs aren’t difficult to build, but they do eat up a large amount of space. A straight stair will take 10 to 14 horizontal feet of floor space, while a spiral space will take up about 5 feet. Think about where you might want the stairs and how you will work around the space. Keep in mind typical code requirements:

Stairs must have a minimum of 6 feet 8 inches of headroom the entire length of the stairs.

Stairs must be at least 36 inches wide.

Treads must be at least 10 inches deep.

Risers must be at least 7 ¼ inches high.

3. Is There Enough Headroom and Space?

Building codes vary on headroom and space. However, most require that at least half of the attic has a height of 7 feet 6 inches. Don’t forget to factor in the inches you will lose with flooring and ceiling coverings. In addition, the living space must equal at least 70 square feet with a minimum width of 7 feet.


4. How’s the Floor Strength?

Your attic was probably built with dead loads in mind – things such as boxes and trunks that don’t move. When converting your attic, you need to consider live loads – people, animals, and anything that moves. As home improvement expert Bob Vila explains, most building codes require a load capacity of 30 pounds per square foot. Consult a structural engineer or professional builder for assistance. (You can use an online calculator to assist your estimates.)

5. What About Lighting?

Some building codes require a certain amount of lighting. Here’s where dormers work like magic. Not only will a dormer raise the roof height (helping you attain the minimum headroom) and add light, it also provides a second exit – which most building codes require. Check your local building code for further information.

6. Can You Heat It?

You’ll probably want to add insulation to keep the space warm. More importantly, you may need to extend electrical lines, plumbing and HVAC systems. According to Bob Vila, building codes generally require that the heating system be capable of keeping the attic temperature at 68 degrees. Consult professionals for assistance or more information.


Loft conversions London

Sellers Behaving Badly: The Top 3 Ways to Turn Off a Buyer

Not all real estate transactions turn sour. In fact, few do. But once in a while, a bad apple ends up either selling or buying a home, and can throw the entire transaction into chaos.

From buyers allowing their children to run wild through a house they’re viewing to sellers trying to hide home defects, the potential to behave badly in a real estate transaction is ever-present.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways homeowners sabotage the sale of their homes.

Dirty Houses

If you’ve ever sold a car instead of trading it in, you probably spent some time spiffing it up: cleaning the upholstery, vacuuming the interior, washing and waxing the exterior. Why? Because you know that to get top dollar for the vehicle, it needs to look like a car worth paying top dollar for.

Yet so many homeowners don’t seem to understand the value of thoroughly cleaning their homes before putting them on the market. A home is the one thing most people own that is probably worth more than any other possession, but many don’t take the time to ensure that it brings top dollar in a sale.

A messy, cluttered house screams out to homebuyers that you don’t care. They may imagine that if you put off cleaning your house, you might have put off maintaining it as well. This, in turn, justifies lowball offers.

Clean the house until it is immaculate. If you don’t have the time, consider hiring professionals to do the job for you.

Overpriced Houses

Pricing your home over market value does not leave room for negotiation. It leaves your home sitting on the market for so long that homebuyers get the impression that there is something wrong with it.

When a new listing hits the MLS, it begins the “honeymoon” phase, with a flurry of showings. It’s during this phase that you are most likely to attract the highest offer. By overpricing the home, you are wasting this valuable marketing time, and the home may eventually end up listed for less than market value just to attract attention.

As special as we all think our homes are, they are not worth more than a buyer is willing to pay for them – which is market value. If your home is in good condition, yet still sits on the market for more than 30 days, your price is too high.

Failure to Disclose

If you’ve ever sold a home before, chances are good you are familiar with the disclosure process. If you aren’t familiar with the process, you will need to get up to speed before you respond to an offer to purchase.

As the seller, you are required to provide the buyer with any information about the house that might affect his or her desire to purchase it – including any material facts that might affect the home’s value or desirability.

For example, if you painted the ceiling to hide water stains, you wasted your time. Leaks must be disclosed to the buyer. The items that must, by law, be disclosed vary by state. California, for instance, has some of the most stringent disclosure requirements; such as deaths on the property, neighborhood problems like barking pooches or loud parties, and more. Environmental hazards must be disclosed, as well as known sex offenders in the area.

In other words, the very things you think might sabotage the sale must be disclosed to a potential buyer. Some sellers still keep secrets, which is a big mistake.

The penalty for nondisclosure? Big, fat lawsuits with big, fat payouts for the buyer. Sellers run the risk of having the contract rescinded as well.

No matter how tempted you are to keep quiet about problems with the home or the neighborhood, don’t do it. Disclose every defect that is not readily observable and that is significant to the home’s desirability. In other words, disclose everything.

There are few simple steps to avoid behaving badly when selling your home. Cleaning well, making small repairs and pricing the house right will bring in a buyer. Then treat that buyer with the respect the law demands, and you’ll have yourself a sale.


1. Getting the Price Right

When the National Association of Realtors® surveyed FSBOs (for sale by owner) about what challenges they faced when attempting to sell their homes without the aid of a real estate professional, 13 percent said that setting the right price was a key challenge.

What is the “right” price? A home should be priced at or very near its market value. Therein lies the challenge – how does a layperson determine a home’s current market value? The calculations require access to recent sales in the area, information about those homes, and information about the current real estate market in general.

Without access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), it is nearly impossible for anyone to gather info on all recent home sales in a given area. Although many websites claim to have this information, they are relying on public records, and most of the time they don’t have all of the information required to pinpoint market value.

Would you sell a used car without consulting the Kelley Blue Book, or something similar, to ascertain its worth? Without knowing the true market value of your home, setting a price for it is akin to throwing a dart – where it lands may or may not be the bulls-eye.

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2. Getting the Word Out

One of the most important jobs of a listing agent is marketing the property. Once upon a time, all it took was an ad in the Sunday classifieds. Today, however, it requires a lot more work, and multiple marketing platforms – especially for homes with problems.

Homebuyers begin their search online, and that’s where real estate agents shine in their marketing efforts. They employ multiple strategies across multiple platforms – something a homeowner with no real estate or marketing experience may find challenging.

3. Getting a Handle on the Paperwork

Understanding and completing paperwork is the one task of selling a home that stymied the largest number of FSBOs in the NAR survey. From the purchase agreement to how to deal with changes to disclosure requirements, the typical home sale requires a stack of legal contracts that few outside of the industry know anything about.

You will need to familiarize yourself with all contracts, reading and understanding every single line. Otherwise, when a buyer submits an offer to purchase, you may end up sitting there with a glazed look on your face and no idea how to decipher the pages in front of you.shutterstock_142177390 (2)


Year to date we have doubled our competition in closed units…



You should be talking to a Keller Williams Dallas Metro North agent if you are thinking of buying or selling your home! You need a PROGRESSIVE, PROVEN, PROFESSIONAL AGENT on your side.

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Forget, for a moment, about market trends and interest rates. At any given time, no matter the state of the economy, someone somewhere is selling their home. In any market, homeowners can up the odds that a home sells as quickly and as profitably as possible by giving it a facelift.

Sellers should focus on home improvement projects that either add value to the home or that attract buyers’ eyes and pique their interests. Make them forget any other houses they viewed and want your house instead.

Don’t randomly select home improvement projects based on your own tastes or suggestions from friends, either. You won’t be the one living in the home, after all. Research houses in your community and compare features and appraisals to get a better idea what people in your area want. A swimming pool may be a popular upgrade in a Southern suburb filled with young couples and families, for instance. But in the North, a hot tub will have greater appeal. A community with older people, no matter where in the country, will probably value a car port or garage over a pool or spa.

Here are three home-improvement project categories that almost anyone can tackle without a large capital investment.

1.Boost Your Curb Appeal

You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. When potential buyers drive up to your home, if they don’t like what they see immediately, they may not get past the exterior to find the great things inside.

It’s not about planting expensive trees, installing fountains or other fancy upgrades. In fact, some of the most value-added outdoor home-improvement projects cost little to nothing, except for your time. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) suggests some of the following property improvements:

Get out your pruning shears: If your home is on the market, keeping the lawn mowed is a given. Keeping plants and flowers watered is also essential. Pruning trees, shrubs and other greenery is more easily overlooked, but it is one of those touches that will make your home stand out. Follow a pruning guide, like the one provided by Better Homes and Gardens, to get the most out of your efforts.

Dig into some mulch: Mulching is another often overlooked landscaping project with a tremendous impact. It helps conserve moisture, protects roots, discourages weeds, and other benefits. You can choose between all-natural mulches and decorative mulches, such as stone. You can even use compost that you create yourself or mown grass and fallen leaves.

Show off your green thumb: Purchase outdoor containers that complement your home’s style and plant something unusual or interesting, NAR suggests. Place plants on the patio or around the home’s entrance to immediately create a more appealing exterior. Plant bright flowers and foliage to provide a splash of color.

Clean up your home’s exterior: Spend a weekend cleaning your gutters, windows and especially your siding, among other exterior items. Rent or purchase a power washer for a very affordable price to really make your home shine.

2. Add a Coat of Paint

Like a wash and wax for your car, a new coat of paint makes anything look better and brighter. To improve your home’s value and attract buyers, consider a fresh paint job, inside and out.

The “safe” advice is to choose neutral colors, such as beige and off-white, and to avoid vibrant or gender-specific hues such as orange, purple or red. However, safe isn’t always the best bet, arguesreal estate agent Todd Kroepel. “Keeping a home vanilla so that buyers can choose their own style and décor … ignores the fact that most buyers lack the ability to visualize the home differently,” he cautions. Don’t be afraid to add splashes of color and a touch of texture—it can be good to leave a dash of style evident.

Consider painting an accent wall in your living room with a contrasting color, or add some texturizing product instead. Adding hand-painted borders in the bathroom, by using stencils that run vertically or horizontally, is another classy touch.

Before painting, outside or in, ensure that the surface is clean and properly prepared. Use a primer to cover previously unfinished areas or bare wood, to better cover over dark or bold colors, or to block out stains. Inside your home, sand surfaces slightly if you don’t use a primer, to help paint adhesion.

3. Update the Kitchen or Bathroom

Everyone appreciates a well-put-together and comfortable bathroom or kitchen. Renovations to these two rooms usually generate buyer interest and offer a high rate of return on investment when it comes time to sell.

Updates don’t always require a large expenditure and a messy, lengthy remodeling period either. Some of the simplest things can change the entire feel of the room. Do as much, or as little, as you choose—just don’t get too attached to the results.

Replace sink and bathtub fixtures: Switch out generic faucets and handles for newer, better-quality hardware. Think about using brass for a startling contrast, or select a style completely different from the current one.

Install a new sink: As long as you’re replacing faucets and such, why not replace the bathroom or kitchen sink as well?

Refinish the cabinets: Solid wood responds well to sanding and refinishing with stain and a polyurethane top coat, or even paint. Newer cabinets often require refacing with veneer instead. Veneer kits make the job fairly simple: Adhere the material to the cabinet box (the portion left after removing doors and drawers) and then purchase new drawer fronts and cabinet doors to complete the makeover.Bryan

Upgrade your countertops: Replace laminate with stone, tile or even a concrete countertop. If you have old ceramic tile, clean or regrout to refresh the look.

Add lighting and accessories: Think in layers when it comes to lighting. Adding accent lights or task lights in any room of the house makes it more visually appealing. Other little touches include changing door knobs, light switch and outlet covers, or installing ceiling fans or a medicine cabinet. Consider swapping old light switches with dimmer switches or energy-saving, programmable lighting controls.

Highlight energy-savers: Speaking of saving energy, programmable thermostats, upgraded insulation and proper weatherproofing are music to many home buyers’ ears.

While you can hire professionals to do the work for you, rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself will increase the amount you recoup when you sell your home. Each project will increase the value of your property, no matter where you live, and help you sell your home faster.