Need More Attic Space? Let’s Talk About Dormers.
In last week’s article we talked about unlocking your attic’s hidden potential for adding more finished space to your home’s footprint.
Refinishing an attic can be a lower-cost alternative to a traditional home addition. With a good layout plan, many attics are great candidates to be built out as
- spare bedrooms,
- cozy work from home offices,
- and more.
Another benefit? Giving your home another restroom.
Attics are above the existing systems in your home. That means if you’re looking to add another bathroom it can be far less expensive than adding one in, say, your basement or a built-out addition.
All this adds up to a great return for you- the homeowner- whether your current home is a long-term asset or a flip.
How? Take a look:
Are you in a starter home? Or looking ahead at an empty nest lifestyle? Adding an extra bedroom increases your home’s value by an average of $50k…and that number only goes up if you can incorporate a bathroom!
Do you plan on staying put for a while? An extra space that can become a spare bedroom, a craft room, or an office means flexibility for you through decades of career and family growth.
Today, let’s dive a little deeper into your attic’s potential.
What’s the biggest challenge homeowners face when considering an attic remodel? Floor space.
That sloping roof can be a problem.
On one hand, steep roof lines make great interior architectural features. Finished out to show off your home’s unique bones, your attic can become a prized hideaway you can’t help but showcase on your next Zoom call.
But what do you do with the dead space where the attic meets the floor? Hundreds of square feet go to waste when the roof slope becomes too low to walk, sit, sleep, or even build shelves under.
Your ceiling height needs to be a minimum of 7’ to be considered a quality addition to the footprint of your home. And that sloping roof can cut into your attic’s current potential.
Great news! There’s an answer. Dormers.
The problem is? Most people (and contractors!) just don’t think of it. Why?
Simple. Most companies specialize in just roofing, just new build, etc and don’t have the capacity to design around special circumstances. Not so with us. At Martin, you know we’re different. Not only do we know roofs, we know homes.
But- I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s talk about what dormer’s do and why they’re a powerful solution to adding solid floor space to your attic.
What is a Dormer?
Don’t know what a dormer is? Don’t worry. We’re not trying to convince you to add an exotic architectural feature to your home.
Chances are you’ve seen dormers all of your life but just didn’t know their name. Let me introduce you to my favorite roof feature…
A dormer is a build out from your roof, like this
There are so many types of dormers: shed dormers, dog house dormers, even false dormers that are there just to make your house look bigger!
But today? Our focus is on dormers that help add floorspace to your attic.
Speaking of exteriors…
Here’s another challenge homeowners face: Once you see a house with a dormer, it’s hard to imagine it without. That means if your home doesn’t have dormers…wrapping your head around
how they could look on your home isn’t easy!
Adding a dormer to your roof completely changes the look of your exterior. Check out this example:
That “night and day” difference isn’t just a coat of paint. The large dormer built into this bungalow’s attic makes this home look like a spacious cottage retreat that 3-4 people could easily enjoy.
Here’s another before and after featuring the addition of two small dormers:
Before the dormer? This home looks like a bachelor pad.
And after? This home appeals to an entirely different market: small family home buyers.
Did you notice how the addition of these small dormers bring the eyes “up” when you first see it? That’s another great feature of this type of build out. A good architectural dormer creates value for your home by adding curb appeal. That curb appeal translates into more value- and a wider pool of buyers- when the time comes to sell.
Is Adding a Dormer to a House Expensive?
Here’s the short answer: The cost to add a dormer to your home can run anywhere between $5,000 to $20k+.
But the real question is: if you want to add usable floor space to your home, is a dormer a good use of your budget?
Our answer: Yes.
If your attic checks all the right boxes for being refinished…but needs a little more floor space (or natural light)…you’ll find adding a dormer will be less expensive than most home additions.
It makes sense. If you compare refinishing an attic to a traditional addition, a dormer costs less than:
- Digging out and pouring new foundation
- Adding supplemental HVAC systems (like mini splits, etc) because your addition is too far away from your existing system
- Building a new roof and 3-4 walls of exterior
Your budget goes further if you take advantage of a less invasive build.
But again, the best choice depends on your home’s existing structure and how much space you’re looking to gain.
If you want to add a small bedroom for grandma when she comes to visit, a dormer is a great way to maximize your budget.
But if you want a 20’x30’ rec room? There comes a point where a traditional home addition is a better fit.
How Do I Know if My Home is a Good Fit for a Dormer?
Good question. First, know why you want to add a dormer.
Are you looking to add exterior appeal to your home? Or are you wanting to add a dormer to create more space in your home?
Not every type of dormer is a good fit for every architectural style…or budget.
If your attic is a good candidate for refinishing (read more here) your best bet is to find a reputable contractor who can
- take a look at your current roof construction
- make a recommendation
- And show you a virtual example of what options you have
Trust me, you don’t just want to make a major change to your home’s structure without taking time to consider what’s best for your unique home situation.
When is the Best Time to Add a Dormer to My Home?
The best time to add a dormer to your home is when you need a new roof. Dormers build out from your existing roof’s structure. If you’re replacing your roof, the process of adding one becomes much more simple (and less expensive).
Can a dormer be added to your home even if you don’t need a full roof replacement? Absolutely. Just make sure you talk to your contractor about how they plan on tying your existing roof materials into the new addition.
Now, I know you might be feeling the expense of New Roof + Adding Dormers + Attic Remodel is just too much to tackle all at once.
But, if you’re looking to do major renovation on your home- like replacing the roof- a good contractor should already be asking you questions like “How long do you plan on being in your home?” and “How do you see your home functioning in your day to day life?”
So talking about dormers? It’s a natural next-step improvement.
At Martin, we can help you make a long-term project plan for your home so you can break up your big dream into smaller steps.
Through our visualization software, we can show you how your home will look with the improvements you want and then help you make a plan that fits your budget. Maybe you want to refinish your attic, but you know your roof is getting old, too. Creating a step-by-step project plan can make big home improvements manageable.
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