A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Attic Remodel Update

Some of the good news we’ve had in the past month is that our plans for the attic were approved by the village —— no changes required. Yippee!

Back in January, I outlined all the stumbling blocks we were running into. In general, what seemed like hindrances have turned out for the better.

We contacted the architect and went over everything. Yes, it did cost us a little more to make changes at this stage, but it will be well worth it in the end. Maybe we could have avoided the additional cost if we had spoken to some contractors after the first sketch phase and before he drew up final plans. Another one of those things where you think you’re covering all the bases only to find out in the end you didn’t.

We did move the dormer to the south side of the house, which overlooks our patio and side yard and will extend to the exterior brick, thus alleviating the structural issues we were encountering with setback rules on the north side. This dormer will house the master bedroom and bathroom.

Initially, I didn’t want the bathroom to be “en suite”, but in order to have the bathroom accessible from the hallway we would have lost in-room access to a closet. The other upstairs room won’t be a bedroom as long as we live here, so to fulfill our needs it won’t be a shared bathroom and we’ll have sufficient closet space in the bedroom.

While that closet will be tucked into the kneewall, two other closets will be full ceiling height and will flank a large window in the dormer addition, thereby creating a much-desired window seat that will overlook our garden.

The bathroom will be small and nothing fancy: toilet, a single sink and shower. The shower will be large with a built-in bench, however, and I’m hoping to get some nice shower fixtures to bring a little more luxury to it.

The new location for the bathroom places it over the kitchen instead of the first floor bathroom. Since we have to open the kitchen wall to expand the staircase, this will make it a little easier to run pipes. The downside to this is that the sewer line is still on the north side of the house.

The upside is that we’ll go through with my plan to tear out the blue-and-yellow tile in the main floor bathroom in order to run the waste pipe to the sewer stack. I have an idea that would make it a relatively inexpensive and fairly easy remodel, and one that I can live with for a long time.

Using a principle outlined in the Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live book by Sarah Susanka, we would also drop the ceiling in the hallway. According to Susanka, dropping the ceiling in a hallway like this defines the rooms beyond and makes them feel more open.

From a utilitarian aspect, by dropping the ceiling we can easily run the waste pipe from the second floor bathroom across the hallway ceiling and over to the first floor bathroom wall and sewer pipe.

The roughed-in plumbing to the second floor, which the PO did, will not go to waste and will be used to supply the small laundry and utility room on the other side of the staircase.

All-in-all, I’m much happier with these changes.

As far as the floor joists go, the final determination is that the span for our particular project is within the maximum horizontal width allowed for sleeping spaces. This doesn’t mean that we won’t be sistering joists where necessary, such as the bathroom and in the dormer area.

We’ve narrowed it down to a couple of contractors, so I hope we’ll make a final decision very soon. We could be starting on this in the very near future!

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