Attic Renovation – “Finished” !!

I put finished in quotes because I still have to install some trim and Gina wants to do something to pretty up the bulkhead door and for the continued reason that often times projects like this are never really completely done.  They haunt you forever…

Dad and I put the final parts of insulation in place and laid the final rows of cedar planks in this past weekend and the room is sealed and ready for use.  The insulation seems to be working well so far and the temps in the room seem to have regulated nicely.  We’ve had some cold days and warm days during the duration of this project and the temps in the space certainly aren’t like what they used to be.  You can really tell the difference when you open the new bulkhead door to the unfinished attic space.

I have to say I’m pretty pleased with how it came out.  This is by far the largest single DIY project I’ve undertaken starting in late January and wrapping up in late April.  It consisted of several phases and we hit very few snags along the way.  I really wish I had a true before picture of what this space looked like at the very beginning still with everything we had stored in it.  This very much seemed like an insurmountable task with all the crap we had in there.  But we were able to slowly pull a purge off and get rid of a lot of stuff we were holding on to for really no reason.  Long story short we are proud of ourselves.

Now we’ve got a much nicer space to store things, allow the cats to play / hangout, and a spare bedroom in a pinch.

Photo Apr 24, 2 23 15 PM

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Attic Renovation – More Floor, Ceiling & Electrical

I kept debating on whether I should post on all these aspects again or just wait until they are all completely done….and then I realized I hadn’t posted in a while and work is still getting done so here are some updates.

The floor is completely done.  Went with vinyl planks because we like them and I know them.  I was a bit wary of going for the install solo because I have only ever done them as a two man crew.  But this room is (basically) square with very few special cuts required so I went for it.  I’m glad I didn’t wait because I ended up flying through it in about 4.5hrs total.  3hrs on day 1 to complete maybe 97% of it and then saved the final row that needed all the special cuts around the door etc. for day 2.  That is my tip with these…orient the rows to try to minimize any special cuts (lengthwise etc.) and if possible save them and do them fresh. i.e. not immediately after a full days work.

Photo Mar 27, 11 40 23 AM

I also finished off the electrical work I wanted to do by splitting the lighting of the two attic spaces into two separate switches.  Originally all the lights were controlled by one switch but with the spaces now split that seemed like a pretty big waste of electricity lighting the other space all the time when it didn’t matter.  I had picked up some electrical tips from Tony and based on some wiring diagrams I found online I figured I could handle it.

Photo Apr 02, 11 01 25 AM

I still always expect to get electrocuted and or fry something whenever I work with electrical though even when its something as simple as this.  I pulled it off and minus installing/wiring the switches upside-down at first there were no mishaps and everything works as intended.

Only thing left to finish now is the cedar planks and final insulation behind my pocket walls.  Planks have been purchased and we’ve started laying them in place.  I’m now into the time of year where I am balancing home owning with weekend ride time so I hope to finish the planks in the next week or two.  THE END IS IN SIGHT.

Photo Apr 09, 11 04 52 AM

Attic Renovation – Floor, Ceiling & Electrical

I was able to keep my momentum going even with my renovation partner on siesta in Aruba.  I needed assistance / expertise from Tony on the electrical stuff I had in mind anyway so the original plan for the weekend was to just rewire the attic fan to run off of a switch. For some reason whoever installed the fan terminated the Romex directly into a plug adapter so to use the fan you had to plug the Romex into an outlet.  Seemed kind of stupid and looked pretty sloppy.

Got that taken care of very quickly with Tony’s help and with the extra time that morning I talked him into making a HD run to get plywood sheets for the floor.  I had been on the fence as to how to do the floor and finally settled on a simple plywood base and finishing things with the vinyl planks I have used twice in other rooms that we like.  Both for look and easy pet clean up.  Our animals puke a lot.

Photo Mar 12, 2 15 25 PM

The plywood actually went down fairly easily and I only had a few issues crop up with the room not being perfectly square.  It was a huge bit of unexpected progress for the day.  I also got some good ideas from Tony on how to handle the apex of the ceiling by using 1×12 planks with a bevel cut to sit flush with the ceiling joists.

Lucky for me Tony has every tool under the sun including an old school table saw that makes quick and easy work of a 40 degree bevel cut down the length of a plank.  I bought the planks midweek, got help from Tony making those cuts and was able to knock that out as well Friday morning before heading North for a ski weekend.

Photo Mar 18, 11 35 18 AM

I rewired the small existing light bulb fixture into a little track lighting set to modernize things a bit and get some additional lighting in there.  It was a bit tricky installing the planks solo but I pulled it off.  Pretty pleased with all the unexpected progress and with how things are coming together.

Attic Renovation – Walls

or maybe I should say “Walls”.   They aren’t exactly fully built out or designed to really carry any significant load I just needed them to square off the room before the roof met the floor.  Now I can continue the ceiling planking down to the floor when I get to that part of the project.

It worked out nice.  The ceiling joists provided an easy place to mount studs at acceptable intervals.  Mounting to the floor was interesting.  I wasn’t 100% sure how the floor / ceiling of the kitchen was constructed and I didn’t want to go through pulling up all the rigid insulation on the floor in the attic to find out.  Soooo I made some assumptions based on the limited stuff I had seen and just went for it.  Whats the saying?…Measure 0 times, make some assumptions, start cutting / drilling.

Photo Feb 28, 11 21 08 AM

It wasn’t quite that reckless…they were educated assumptions.  I had to counter sink the holes a bit in the 2×3’s because the decking screws I had around the house that I thought were long enough weren’t quite long enough.  Luckily counter sinking worked just fine and an additional trip to HD was not required.

Photo Feb 28, 11 21 20 AM

We are nearing completion.  Really just two major tasks left: ceiling planks and then the floor. My build partner is heading to Aruba for a month though so things will be on hold a bit.  I’ve got a few menial tasks to address during that time…some more insulation, electrical, etc.  Pretty pleased with things so far.

Attic Renovation – Insulating

Work in the attic space continues! This is actually progressing quite a bit faster than anticipated. I’m breaking new ground on much of this work and while I had a plan it was based on little to no experience so I figured I’d run into all kinds of snags but so far so good.

After the door went in the next stages of my plan were to insulate the ceiling and frame up some mini walls.  Decided to tackle insulating first.  Can you believe I fit eleven 2in x 2ft x 8ft sections of rigid insulation in the Fit?  WELL BELIEVE IT because I did.

Photo Feb 06, 2 27 04 PM

Working with rigid insulation is actually pretty easy.  Cutting it was no problem.  Getting things to fit in my irregular not-square house got a bit interesting but we managed ok.  Just a bit of punching and smashing to get things press fit into place.  But end product came out pretty nice.  A few of the sections of ceiling needed a bit of finish work before we could insulate so we’re not totally done yet.

I was able to move some of the electrical that was in the way Sunday and we’ve got a plan to add some 2×6’s at the end of the room for an additional ceiling plank mounting spot.  Then its walls, ceiling planks, floor.

Photo Feb 07, 10 38 36 AM

Attic Renovation – Building Doors

When we bought the house in ’09 there were a few left behind items in an unfinished attic space over the kitchen.  We had a bunch of things we weren’t quite ready to throw out yet so we stashed them in there as well.  Most of that stuff has just sat in there for the last 6-7 years.  We’ve tossed around the idea of trying to renovate it a bit because its a decent sized space.  We still need the storage but if it was insulated and a bit cleaner/nicer the cats would have more room to roam around and who knows what else we could do, we still need to figure that out.

I forgot to get a pic with it still all full of stuff but I’ll use this as our ‘before’ pic (looking in from the entryway):

Photo Jan 16, 11 29 42 AM

I’ve broken my plan out into an order of operations to get the whole thing done.  First step was to build a door to close off the entrance to the other attic space above the addition.  That attic space is less finished off and really wouldn’t be usable in any way. Luckily I was smart enough to ask Tony to come over to get a second opinion on my plans for the space. He gave me a much simpler idea for the door than what I was thinking of.

Basically a reverse bulkhead door using the existing ceiling joists as the frame. Pretty straight forward except for the whole nothing is square in my 100+ year old house thing. Kinda hard to incorporate new square things into old wonky things.  I didn’t feel like trying to mod the plywood to match the specific wonkyness of the opening which may come back to bite me later when installing the planking I’m gonna use for the ceiling but time will tell.

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Dad and I got things installed without much issue.  There were a few key steps that definitely needed some extra hands and manpower. Decided to cover the opening below the door by just continuing the cedar planking across from the ceiling/walls once I get to that step. Still need to insulate the back of the door as well but that will get done when I insulate the rest of the roof in the next stage of the project.

Photo Jan 30, 4 12 04 PM

Gina suggested also mounting the same cedar planking onto the door as I’ll be putting everywhere else to hide the door a bit and give a more uniform look. A not so subtle way of telling me she doesn’t like the unfinished plywood look.  I didn’t really care much because its just an attic but the planking would look way better and won’t be too hard to do or cost that much extra. So she’ll get the credit when this looks better than it would have.