Maximum Home Value Storage Projects: Attic
It’s easy simply to dump boxes of old clothes and other random items in your attic. But by turning an underused space into a finished storage area or living space, you instantly increase its usability and unlock value in your home.
- Proper insulation and ventilation. They’re not necessarily trends, but more like requirements when finishing an attic. When you install flooring, make sure you properly insulate the attic; doing so will minimize utility bills as well as ventilate the attic and help prevent heat from building up and damaging your roof.
- Accessible storage. “You used to just lay boxes on each other, and every 10 years you’d go up and remember what you had,” says appraisal expert Leslie Sellers. But these days, he says, more homeowners are treating the attic like a large walk-in closet, installing shelving and drawer systems to store and access items more frequently.
- Cedar closets. Many homeowners are building closets in the attic, including some with cedar lining to store winter clothes and keep them smelling fresh. “Using mothballs is the old way and makes your clothes smell,” Sellers says.
Sellers points out that homeowners need to have a plan and budget in place when remodeling the attic. “The biggest mistake is to cover over ventilation,” he says. “When you add more insulation, you aren’t getting heat out of the attic, and that adds stress on the AC unit in the summer. Plus, your roof will not last as long.”
Another big mistake is putting too much weight in one particular area of the attic.
“Don’t put heavy books on a roof rafter that isn’t intended to hold that much weight at one time,” Sellers says. “The sheetrock starts to crack and can damage your ceilings. The weight should be distributed evenly.”
- On a Budget: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a finished attic. If you plan to use it solely for storage, fit and finish don’t have to be perfect. Wood planks, plywood and vertical boards are fine for flooring, and it’s a simple process to buy insulation you can install yourself. “You don’t need to worry about looks as long as it’s structurally sound,” Sellers says.
- Mid-Range: For real value, turn your attic into a combination living and storage space. Depending on the size of the attic, the ceiling heights, whether the roof is sloped or not, and the attic's overall accessibility, you can convert it into living space with functionality in mind. Consult a professional before taking on a major project.
- High-End: In luxury homes, large attics can easily be converted into an additional bedroom, play area or bonus room. If you don't want to add full windows, skylights and small picture windows will help ventilate the area and bring in natural light. These types of projects should be done by a professional contractor, not a DIYer.