How much would it cost to raise the ceiling in an attic?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ November 1, 2012 ~ No Comments

The house was a two bed/1 bath home with an attic. The attic has been turned into a living area with 2 bedrooms and bath room added. I'd like to lift the ceilings to a normal height. Is there a solution?

Tony - DFW, TX

Jeffrey Anderson

Tony, one of the challenges faced when finishing attic space is contending with the limitations the roof framing often presents. Depending on the architectural style and roof configuration, the framing can be very restrictive to achieving a lot of usable space. At the very least, the headroom in the attic is usually reduced down to almost nothing as the roof slope reaches the eaves at the house perimeter.

It isn't specified in your question whether the attic was already finished when you purchased the house, but I assume that a prior owner did the project. Without looking at the space, I would think that they made the ceiling as high as possible in the attic center and the ceiling probably slopes toward the outside walls. In many cases homeowners place shelving or storage space around the perimeter where it's impossible for an adult to stand up.

If this is what you have, I don't know of any way of raising the ceiling height short of making major adjustments to the roof framing -- a remodeling project that can be very expensive. I'm not sure if there are any areas where you might be able to see above the ceiling, but if there are, you may be able to ascertain if it can possibly go any higher. My guess is that it would be minimal if at all.

However, one of the solutions for creating a more open feeling for finished attics is to allow more natural light to enter the space. This can be done by adding a few skylights or if the roof system allows, one or two dormers. A roofing contractor can normally install skylights as they fit between the existing roof trusses or rafters.

You may need a trim or sheetrock contractor to do a little interior work to create an opening from the roof down to the attic ceiling. It's also important that you use a reputable roofing contractor as skylights can leak when not installed properly.

Adding dormers is a little more involved and can be somewhat costly, but can make a big difference in the attic space and the exterior appearance of your home. If you want to consider this route, I recommend consulting a local architect. They should have the expertise to design dormers that require the least amount of roof framing changes, which translates to less cost.

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