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Q&A: Attic

Utilization of each square centimeter and its transformation into sellable living area is of exceptional importance these days. This trend is not bad because it should lead to a reduction in the uncontrolled contructing and to modernizing of the outdated buildins. Unfortunately in our country not this idea but the economic crisis led to the collapse of the industry. Still, it is always better to turn the empty and dust covered basements and ceilings into cozy homes than to destroy green areas in order to raise up the next "winning" buildings. Here are a few ideas on how to utilize the space below the sloped wooden roof which is typical for many Bulgarian buildings...

Q&A: What to pay attention to when we want to turn the attic into a habitable space?

First of all, make sure that the roof structure is sound and operational. The most common shortcomings in older buildings are:

  • The wood elements are rotten, eaten by worms or unprotected from fire;
  • The tiles have been removed by storms and broken by stones and strong hailstones;
  • The gutters and drains are clogged unfixed and / or drilled;
  • The thermal insulation of the perimeter overwalls and the wooden structure itself is missing;
  • There are no windows and roof openings for light and ventilation;
  • The minimum clear height at the end of the slope is too small.

Q&A: How to renovate and strengthen the wood construction?

The elements which have lost their entirety and stability should be replaced by new ones. In this case you should always choose dry wood, identical by type and dimensions of the sections with the original. Cover and impregnate the entire construction with materials for fire protection. Remember that the nice appearance is something you need to emphasize. The sandpaper, the linseed oils, the lacquers and the wood agers will help you in achieving the goal. The metal plates and screws should also meet the aesthetic requirements.

Q&A: What should we do with the tiles?

Depending on the degree of damage you should decide whether it is more appropriate or safe to replace the entire roof covering. It would be nice to preserve the architectural appearance of the building by using materials similar to the original ones. Do not forget to mount special grilled tiles which would ensure the roof ventilation and should be prescribed by a professional. In case the building is taller and its tiles are either way not visible from the ground or you just find it more convenient and easy, you could use bitumen rolled materials.

Q&A: Shall we replace the gutters and drainage pipes?

Replacement is only necessary if the entire gutters and drainage pipes or significant parts of them are rusted, crushed or pierced. In the rest of the cases, basic purging, strengthening and rewelding of the damaged parts is sufficient enough. It is a good idea to install a heating system for melting ice and snow - the main causes of damage in this case. It is equipped with a sensor for temperature and humidity and a wire which will prevent the icing and clogging with snow.

Q&A: Where and what insulation should we use?

On the surrounding outer walls you should use solid thermal insulation boards of extruded polystyrene with closed cell structure. It is always better to mount them on the outside of the wall. Of course do not forget to coordinate your actions with a specialist in energy efficiency, as well as with the project for general rehabilitation and reconstruction of the building. Regarding the insulation on the roof it must consist of mineral rock wool which has three very important functions at the same time - thermal, acoustic and fire protection. It should be mounted between the wooden ribs and is usually closed by wooden boards, plywood or plaster boards from underneath. As the wool is a highly hydroscopic material which loses its qualities when is wet, it is good for it to be protected by a layer of polyethylene or steam insulation on both sides.

Q&A: What do we have to do if the light in the attic is insufficient?

It is best to choose a building that has window openings in the perimeter walls or at least there is the possibility of creating new ones. Where the conditions do not allow this you should definitely provide sufficient number of large windows in the slope of the roof. Dormers are even a better solution, as they would offer not only light and ventilation but also a better, interesting and variable views. Their construction is however linked to more difficulties and money.

Q&A: What is the minimum usable height?

Typically, the perimeter walls at the edge of the slope are the lowest. According to me you have to restrict the new premises with a wall whose height is not less than 1.50 m in order not to get dysfunctional and difficult to furnish and clean corners. There is the best place to put furniture for sitting or sleeping.