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  1. #1
    NikGee's Avatar
    NikGee Guest

    Default Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    I am not an inspector, and therefore reaching out to you folks for some basic understanding of this situation.

    I am looking at buying a house and the previous owner had an attic conversion done. The Attic conversion has staircases leading down to it. That is because this is the space above the garage, and behind the formal living room. Structurally it sounds good as I walked as well as jumped on the floor and felt nothing shaky.

    The question however is this. There is no secondary egress. There is just the door & staircase leading to it. That is it.

    Can it be classified as a living area? I ask because the current owner believes it to be and is including it in the house square footage. However, he has never reported it to the city, and therefore never inspected by the city inspectors.

    Help!

    Inspection Referral SOC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    Out of curiosity, are there any windows in the converted space?

    Work done without pulling permits can be an issue. I'd research with the building department. Building permits would most likely be required. Possibly electrical and mechanical permits as well.

    Another curiosity question; do you have a realtor? They should be all over the reported square footage for living space. For a converted attic space to be considered living space for reported square footage purposes, the space will need to satisfy a number of requirements. Minimum floor space may apply; required ceiling heights may come into question; fire/life safety requirements; requirements specific to the stairs, and the fact that attics in garages are often designed for light storage. With that in mind, the garage attic can have some serious structural deficiencies regarding to converting it into a living space.

    Do your DUE DILIGENCE!!


  3. #3
    NikGee's Avatar
    NikGee Guest

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    Thank you for responding James.

    The attic finished room has no windows, but has AC vents that work. It is finished out. It is 210 sq.ft and the midpoint of the slanted ceiling is 8 ft high.

    The realtor and myself are all over it, but the realtor has a dog in the fight (ie reducing value of property = less commission) so I have to take what he says with a grain of salt.

    That said, this house has had 2 prior owners with this attic in place, and even the prior owners appraisal report show it as Living space. However it is not reported to the city. How does that happen? I am confused as hell right now.

    I forgot to mention: This house has been built in 1986, the attic conversion @ 1999.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,340

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    It's an illegal addition that will become your responsibility if you purchase the home.
    If your town/city has a building department, you should go down there and chat with them.

    I bet that the number of modifications needed for this conversion to pass city inspections would be numerous and expensive.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    Definitely have someone qualified look at this before purchasing. If no permits were pulled, the work is definitely suspect. The house burns down from an illegal addition, Insurance company will pay squat.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
    Posts
    1,984

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    - Load rating for joists for full occupancy use
    - Compliant light and ventilation for occupancy use, i.e. windows
    - Sufficient fire separation from garage
    - Sufficient heating and cooling for your area, especially a return for that space along with any supplies
    - If this is above the 2nd floor level from grade a second egress may be required
    - When was the conversion done and what electrical requirements were in place at that time, i.e. number of receptacles
    - Is roof / ceiling insulated
    - Is floor to garage insulated

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,446

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    It sounds like they built a storage closet.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    McKinney Texas
    Posts
    475

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    Like Markus said in his first bullet. The joist in this attic space are likely not designed for live loads, meaning people. If they put down plywood on the ceiling joist, you might have some deflection. I would inquire about the spacing and size of the joists. My 2 cents.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    In my experience in my neck of the woods putting faith in a muni inspection is not always to your benefit. I'd be more interested in seeing design specifications. That would at least demonstrate whether someone had thought this project out as well as what work was intended to be done.

    When we remodeled our 2nd fl mbath we had to explain to the local inspector that the reason we were sistering the joists and replacing the header over a 1st fl. sliding door was because we were taking out a small shower stall and putting in a large hydro-massage tub. Apparently the load path concept wasn't clear to him. Spending $$ on the permit was pointless.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Rolla, MO
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Attic Conversion into Exercise room / Media room and Egress requirements

    Many houses have an optional bonus room over the garage as part of the original construction. These rooms are not constructed with normal trusses. If this is a true bonus room the floor joist or bottom chord of the attic truss will be larger than a 2x4. Many of these bonus rooms have a small attic access on either side you could access to determine the size of the floor joists or bottom truss chord.

    Randy Mayo, P.E.
    Residential Engineering & Inspection Services
    http://www.rlmengineers.com

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