Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Converting a Bedroom into a Loft

Spending a lot of time in the attic suggested that there were two main areas where there was a lot of space -- over the kitchen and over the bedrooms. I thought that the space over the bedroom could be used by taking the ceiling off the bedroom to make it more open and provide access to the attic area. I figured this would be a major change and take a lot of time. And I had only a vague concept of what I would be doing.

So how to determine what exactly to do? I figured I needed professional help, so I looked for an Architect. I found "The Studio of 2 on Sixth", a small studio with a husband/wife team of architects: James Linville and Lina Husodo. They really brought my ideas into reality. They took our old blue prints for the house, scanned them in and converted them to a new computer file. (In the process, they also flipped everything over -- the construction of the house was the mirror image of the blue prints). They built a cardboard model of the house, with a removable roof, so you could see the way everything would fit together. Which was a really good idea, since my mental model was taking the roof off the wrong bedroom. The architects worked from June 2000 to December 2000, and billed by the month, but altogether cost $2468.20.

The architects also put us in contact with KWR Services. KWR Services did an analysis of the impact on ventilation, insulation, and heating/AC issues. This analysis is what drove the decision to install a roof ridge vent and soffit vents.

Plus, the architects considered that if we removed the ceiling from the bedroom, that might make a difference in the structural construction in the exterior wall. The framing for the bedroom ceiling effectively acted to support the middle of the exterior wall. KWR suggested a structural engineer, who suggested that we stiffen the exterior wall by installing a double 2 x 12 the length of the room along the exterior wall, between the "first floor" and the "second floor".

One thing I did was to get a building permit. It seemed likely to me that I would need one -- I wasn't sure. As I happened to be downtown near the building permit office, I stopped in and asked for one. Big mistake. They wanted to see plans, and cost estimates, and schedules. I guessed it would take years to do, and maybe cost $4000, and wasn't sure what would be done. But they were eventually happy to issue me a permit, charge me $110 (20 Nov 2000) and send me on my way, with a permit for "Remodel Attic Space for Loft/Storage Area", and some brochures about permits and inspections.

Most of 2001 was spent in getting things ready for the remodelling work. We needed the roof ridge vent and soffits. I replaced roof supports and extended the catwalk in the attic. I reinforced the floor over the kitchen and doubled the amount of fiberglass insulation over the dining room, living room and kitchen. We had the wind turbines and the power roof vent removed and the roof patched, and then I installed a solar radiant barrier on the attic side of the roof in these areas. I contracted with All Year Heating and Cooling to move some of the A/C ducts, to get them out of the way, extend the ducts to the utility room and master bedroom closet.

Now we were ready for the major remodelling. We contracted with Masterpiece Remodeling to remove the old roof and reframe the new walls and floors. This started 1 Nov 2001, and was done by 8 Nov 2001. This just provided the rough framing. $9100. This also included installing the windows (see below) in the new exterior wall. The previous framing and cedar siding for the gable had to be removed and rebuilt. We took the opportunity to replace the cedar siding with a stone siding that matched the first floor, all the way up.

The design called for two new windows -- a small double-hung window in one of the loft areas, and a larger fixed window above the windows in the bedroom. Both of these were ordered ahead of time from Home Depot. $205.66 for the small double-hung window, an Andersen wood window TW18210 20 inches by 33 inches plus $328.86 for a 5 foot wide by 3 foot tall picture window, Andersen P5030. (ordered 29 October 2001, picked up 25 Nov 2001)

We called All-Year Heating and Cooling back to run new ducts for the new space -- the upstairs loft area (two new registers, plus re-running ducts for the bedroom itself. $1200 (29 Nov 2001), plus another $550 to McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning (19 Dec 2001)

It was clear that we would need changes to the electrical power and probably new circuits. While we would prefer to run them from the main circuit breaker box, that seemed really difficult, so we instead installed one big line to a new secondary circuit breaker in the attic. Jimmie Farrell Electric did this for us. $963.80 (15 Nov 2001). With the circuit breaker in place, I can then run the lines for the outlets and lights myself.

After the electrical wiring was done, as well as telephone and CAT5 cabling for computer and cable communication, I called for my first inspection for the electrical work, 26 December 2001. I mostly passed, but I needed to ground each outlet to the metal boxes, so I would need to do that and then have a re-inspection. In the meantime, it was passed to close off the walls with sheetrock.

The sheetrock work was done by John Hernandez, for $2800. He installed the sheetrock, taped and floated it to cover the seams and make it smooth, and then added a texture to the walls to match the rest of the house. It took 3 days, from 20 Feb to 22 Feb 2002.

We did the painting ourselves. We primed the sheetrock first with one coat of Glidden Speed Wall PVA Primer, white, 4 gallons. Then we use Ralph Lauren paints. Most of the room (and the loft) was done in GH109 Greenhouse Sunglight, 4 gallons. On wall was done in Naturals Pueblo NA39, 1 gallon, as an accent.

We also got two custom doors made by Home Depot. One short door for the access to the attic over the back bedroom, and one short door for access to the attic over the rest of the house. These were just the standard Lauan interior hollow core doors, but 24 x 36 inches for the one and 24 x 52 inches for the other. $219.59, ordered 16 Jan 2002, and picked up 9 Feb 2002.

We bought a Hunter ceiling fan (Model 23853, $552.92) 9 March 2002 with a 4 arm light kit for comfort and lighting. We put fluorescent lights in the loft itself, as well as a smoke detector (since heat rises).

Now we were ready for the floor. We had a 3/4 inch plywood subfloor. It would have been nice to match the oak flooring from the rest of the house, but instead we went with a pre-finished engineered flooring -- Huntington Plank by Robbins, in a Shara Sand finish. Texas Floors supplied the material and installed it for $1952.00 with the installation on 21 and 22 March 2002.

Baseboards and window trim was obtained from Wenco Distributors. They had red oak trim that matched the trim in the rest of the house pretty well. $313.93 on 5 March 2002 for the baseboards and $148.80 on 20 March for the window and door trim. We got James R. Mattocks to install the trim for $720 on 26 March 2002. He also enclosed the double 2x12 stiffening beam along the exterior wall with oak trim to look like a shelf, and topped the half-wall by part of the loft with a nice piece of oak.

One of the intended uses of this space was to hold books. After the framing was roughed in, I noticed that there was space over the master closet and decided to put some recessed bookcases into that loft wall. I framed it all out and then ordered 3 bookcases 42 inches wide, by 33.5 inches high and 10.5 inches deep from the Bookcase Store on 2 March 2002 ($353.98). They were ready on 23 March, and we just slid them into place, then secured them by nailing their wooden trim to the wall.
(Later, in September 2006, we would buy 4 more custom made bookcases from the Bookcase Store for $428.67 and put them along the other wall).

April 2002 was spent finishing the bookcases and trim. Everything had to be sanded and two coats of polyurethane applied.

Now the problem was how to get up (and down) from this space. During all the work, we were just using a step ladder to get up and down, but we needed something better. Our solution was to order a library ladder from Putnam Rolling Ladder Co. We ordered the #1 Top Bent ladder with Satin Nickel hardware, for $1293.00 on 22 March 2002, and took delivery on 29 May, with an extra cost of $118.13 for shipping.

This pretty well finished the work. I called for my final inspections and got (and passed) them on 28 June (Electric and Building) and 3 July 2002 (Heating and A/C).

So it took about 2 years and over $20,000. It opened up the room and added about 200 square feet of left storage space. That's expensive storage space!

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