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Need advice regarding attic expansion

Posted by newbie007 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 10:53

Hello All, I recently bought a brick English bungalow in Chicago. It is about 60 years old and I have been toying with idea of expanding the attic roof. Basically it will convert my current English style bungalow to Georgian style home. The attic currently has two bedrooms, each 14X10 and a full bath. By expanding the attic ceiling, each bedroom would then be 14X22 size. So there is a significant amount of space for me upstairs. Please see the attached picture to get an idea. Please advise if anyone has remodeled their house in the similar fashion. Do I need to be wary of anything? How much would it cost and whether it will enhance the beauty and the value of my house?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

picture attached


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

So, you are talking about going from a 1.5 story to a full 2 story?

Height restrictions in your neighborhood?

Snow load on the sidewalls/foundation due to a less-pitched roof?

Any other rearrangement of the rooms, or just larger?

Seems like a costly thing to do for not a lot of benefit, frankly.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

Hi Kirkhall, thanks for the message. Yes, it is going to be a 1.5 story to 2 story conversion. I don't think there is a height restriction in the area. As a matter of fact, there are a few houses on the same street that are two storied buildings. For now, I don't have any plans on rearranging the rooms; just two huge bedrooms. If this idea is feasible, any ballpark estimates on how much would it cost if it were brick expansion or vinyl siding expansion?


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

Check the Zoning ordinance to see if the added floor area would exceed the Floor Area Ratio limit. Usually a floor area where the ceiling height is lower than 4 ft is not counted. A building built before the Zoning Ordinance or on a larger lot could be larger than yours is allowed to be.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

I just checked and verified that my building with the proposed expansion of the attic will fall well within the limits of FAR limit. By raising the roof, I will be adding an additional 336 sq ft. Please share any of your experiences..


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

Check that your foundation will support a second floor load. Unless the existing foundation meets the requirements to support a two-story load, you may have a great deal of settlement and cracking.

Good luck with your project.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

That's a complete tearoff of the top and rebuild. IF the foundation will allow it. That means all new electrical and plumbing---to current codes--which are rather complex and restrictive in your location. That translates to more expensive than average. 250K would be about average in your metro location.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

You'll never be able to match the brick on the exterior. Given the limitations of a new exterior surface, you'll have a bungalow with a box on top. Enhance the beauty? Not according to my taste.

That said, tons of home in and around Chicago have done what you are proposing.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

I agree that it wouldn't be an aesthetically pleasing addition. Nor would it be a financially sound one for the amount of square footage that would be gained.

However, in for a penny, in for a pound. If the regs would allow it, since you'd have to do a complete tearoff and rebuild anyway (and possibly rebuild the foundation) why not make adding even more square footage for the money a priority. Add a third floor master suite. Yeah, it's probably another 75-100K, but now you're actually adding real square footage that adds value to the home. And all the hard work will be for the second floor part. The third floor part is a piece of cake once the logistics for the second floor are worked out.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

It will be a very expensive 336 s.f. You could achieve 70% of the added area for half the cost with large shed dormers on each side and leave the front and rear facades alone and avoid replacing all of that brick since you can't match it. That's why you see more dormers than torn off roofs.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

Renovator8, virgilcarter, GreenDesigns, jmc01 and live_wire_oak, thank you so much for your suggestions. I really like the dormer idea as my wife and I were discussing about not messing with the existing brick look. We are a newly wed couple and not in urgent need to expand the attic at this time; but it is in our remodel list. I also have a full unfinished basement. Does it make more sense to finish the basement first than expanding the attic? Also, can anyone of you please recommend me a good architect in the Chicago area to get an estimate and design for the dormers? Thank you all!


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

My first contribution is the structural engineer we've used and he's in OP. Ingenii LLC. We've used him twice and he's awesome, honest and reasonable.

Architect - Doug Gilbert in OP or Frank Heitzman also in OP. Your home looks Galewood-ish and well maintained. How muddled (unoriginal) is the interior?


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

Hi jmc01, I apologize, but what is OP? Could you share any images from your remodel? I have done quite a few updates to my interior. The major ones being - two bathrooms and the Kitchen. However, I did not alter the structure of my interior what so ever.


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

OP = Oak Park


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RE: Need advice regarding attic expansion

Oh ok. Thanks renovator8. Thanks jmc01 for the architect and engineer contacts...


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