How to Increase Attic Height

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Adding dormers can increase the attic height and create more living space.

Home owners are always interested in increasing the value of their home and creating more living space within it. Converting the attic into a living space may require adjustments to be made to the roof to increase the height of the attic ceiling in order to meet building codes. Having enough head room in the attic is the first step to making the space into a living area.


Step 1

Go up into the attic, and observe what type of roof supports you have in your home: rafter roof framing or truss framing. You have rafter roof framing if the roof supports meet the floor joists with no extra supports or diagonal bracing. You have truss framing if the roof supports have triangular truss supports in the corners of the roof where it meets the attic floor supports. If your home has rafter roof framing, it will be easier to increase the ceiling height. If you have truss framing, it may become more expensive than it is worth due to the roof reconstruction needs.

Step 2

Measure the square footage and ceiling height at various locations. To meet the building codes, 50 percent of the finished floor space must have a ceiling height of at least 6 foot 8 inches. This 50 percent must be at least 70 square feet.


Step 3

Contact a professional contractor or architect for an estimate regarding the roof adjustments needed to increase the attic height to meet building code requirements. Have the contractor or architect also check the structural integrity of the walls and foundation of your home to make sure he can withstand the added weight anticipated with the remodeling project.

Step 4

Discuss the possibility of adding dormers to the attic to increase the ceiling height rather than rebuilding the roof. Consider stair location, if your attic only has a drop-down staircase or hatch access.


Step 5

Obtain any necessary building permits, and have the necessary inspections completed before beginning the remodeling.

Step 6

Remodel the roof as needed to increase the attic ceiling height by removing the old roof, changing the angle of the new roof and installing rafters, joists, sheathing and shingles. It is recommended to have a professional design and do the construction for this remodeling project unless you have substantial experience in this area.


Consult the building codes in your area as they may vary by location.

Take into consideration the spacial needs for HVAC vents and ducts, lights and any other overhead obstacle when calculating the attic ceiling height.


Wear protective gear when evaluating and working in the attic. Dust respirator, goggles, long sleeves and gloves are recommended.

Beware of stinging insects or other pests when first entering your attic, if it hasn't been occupied for a duration of time.


references & resources

Gabrielle Black

Gabrielle Black has been a professional writer, artist and designer since 2002. Her theatrical designs, puppet design and construction have been featured in "Theatre Design & Technology" magazine and she has written numerous articles for various websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Luther College and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho, both in stage design and painting.