May
19
2014

The New Office in the Attic

Posted at 8:00 PM on May 19, 2014 by I am THAT Lady: Mark

May 19th, 2014

Check out how we renovated our ugly attic into an AMAZING 500 sq ft Office!

I know many of you who follow this blog have been very interested to see what our newly renovated attic looks like… so here it is!

In this post, I’ll share what we did, why we did it, and how much it cost.

When we found out we were pregnant with our 4th, we immediately decided that our house was too small, and we had to move.  We love our home, but 1,850 sq ft is a little tight for a family of six, especially when having a dedicated office is a necessity.  We went so far as to have our house on the market and a purchase contract signed for another home.  But we felt uneasy about it, and took our home off the market after only a few weeks and were able to withdraw our offer on the other home.

That still left us with a problem – not enough space.  But we had another option – one of the reasons we bought our current home in 2010 was that there is a huge & open walk-up attic, one that we thought could be finished someday.  Since we weren’t moving, that thought was now a reality.  In fact, when I decided to leave my job and join Lauren full-time, finishing the attic into office/living space was one of my stipulations.

So we began… and it was quite a process.  I wish we had a before-before picture (i.e. no insulation, TONS of stuff packed up there).  So this one below will have to do.  We actually had our office in the attic looking like this for a few months… Lauren HATED it.  The floor creaked, it was dark, there were random nails and staples lying around.

Attic - Before (with insulation)

The first step was insulation… and we had a problem.  The rafters in our house are only about 5 inches thick, which doesn’t leave much room for insulation.  With a bit of research and talking with contractors, we realized that our best bet was closed-cell spray foam insulation.  The only downside is that it is really expensive.  However, it has an R-value of about 6.5 per inch, which is double anything else on the market.  Plus, it seals up the attic tight and brings air leakage to just about zero.

Cost: Insulation: $4,200, 4 Windows: $800 – Total: $5,000

Spray Foam Insulation

This is a stock photo, not the actual guy spraying the insulation in our house.  But we did have a couple guys in full Hazmat suits walking up and down our stairs for a day.

Next – we needed a contractor to:

  • Run electricity
  • Frame half-walls
  • Frame wall separating into 2 rooms
  • Drywall
  • Sub-floor

Attic - After drywall

Attic after insulation 2

Our contractor (Aaron Standish from Standish and Sons) gave us a very fair price and worked his butt off.  The stairway leading up to the attic isn’t exactly full-sized, so every single piece of sheetrock needed to be cut prior to carrying it up.  This also meant A LOT more seams and mudding (as you can see from the pictures).  The dormers had some pretty interesting angles to deal with, but he pulled it off excellently.  If you’re in the central New York area, I would highly recommend Aaron for just about any home improvement job.

The next step was my job – painting.  I have painted quite a bit over the years, but I realized that I had never actually painted a bare unfinished room before.  And there was quite a bit of prep involved:

  • Filling all trim nail holes
  • Caulking all baseboard, door and window trim
  • Priming all walls, ceilings, trim and the door (I used 5 gallons of primer – I didn’t realize how much the bare drywall sucks it up)

Just the prep took me about a week of evenings and on/off during the day.  Then – FINALLY I could paint.  1 coat on the ceiling, 1 coat on the trim, and 2 coats on the walls.  There were a few late nights for me.

Then carpet was installed, which is never cheap.

I won’t break out the cost of all the other pieces because I don’t want to share exactly how much our contractor charged us (since every job is different, and prices fluctuate seasonally – but it was very reasonable, especially for the quality of work done).  The cost for all labor, framing, drywall, electric, sub-floor, trim, paint supplies and carpet was an additional $9,000, bringing the total to $14,000.  In my opinion, it was well worth it.

Office Pano

Here is a panoramic shot before we added furniture.

Finished Attic 1

Finished Attic 2

Many YouTube videos will be filmed from that chair.

Also – take a look at some of that drywall work – I’m glad I had a skilled contractor to do it.  Thanks again, Aaron!

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 10.32.17 PM

Yes, Lauren’s desk is nicer than mine…

Finished Attic with Drums

…but I have a drumset in my office.  So that more than makes up for it.

Lego room

I started to clean up the Lego’s before taking a picture, but then I stopped… what’s the point?

Spare room

Oops – I still have to finish fixing the smoke alarm to the ceiling!

Finally – we have a space that is dedicated to work, and we LOVE it!  And the kids love it too!  The spare room up here (which Andrew is convinced will be his bedroom someday) has quickly become the “lego room”.  I wish I had a room like that when I was a kid.

Best of all, we were able to stay in our home!  We love our home and plan on being here for the long haul.

Now, the question many of you might be wondering from a property value point of view – was it worth it?  That question and more will be answered in a post later this week.  Stay tuned!

 

 

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