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Attic Conversion - Making It Liveable

Stephen Perkins
4 months ago

Hi Everyone -

Appreciate any input/feedback you can give on this attic conversion I'm considering.

I purchased a great home in Western PA last year that was originally built in 1926. It’s three stories, with the top floor being a finished attic space. We recently completed a nearly whole house renovation and tackled every floor other than the attic space, which is next on our list. The attic space is large enough to form two bedrooms. It's currently finished, but was poorly done.

The current finished attic gets INCREDIBLY hot in the summer. I’m talking easily +90 degrees on hot days. I haven’t been up there on single digit days in the Winter, but I’m sure it gets cold as Hell in there then as well. There are windows on each side of the attic and I’ve tried putting window units in each one during the Summer, but they don’t make a real difference. The rest of my house has central air, but the second floor won't cool because the heat in the attic can get so high.

The house has a slate roof, no gable vents, soffits or ridge vents. The only ventilation that I’m aware of is a mounted vent on the roof that seems to be controlled by a thermostat. There's a switch for that fan in the attic. I have no idea where the thermostat itself is located though. It seems like it may turn on when the heat gets to a certain degree. The attic has kneewalls and no ductwork.

If I were to “re-renovate” this space - meaning, completely tear everything out of the attic and start over - what should I do to make sure the space if liveable from a thermal perspective? Is there a particular type of insulation system or product that would work best for this situation? I'm not able to run duct up there, so I'm planning on installing a dual mini-split (handlers in each room) once the space is finished.

If helpful to know, the home is brick, with lathe and plaster throughout.

Thank you!

Comments (7)

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