Creating Comfortable Converted Living Spaces
Converting an unfinished area of your home into a livable space is a tempting option to host guests, make money on rent, accommodate a growing family, house an aging parent, create a home office, or simply add value to your home. Attics, garages, and barns can all be converted into additions that expand the livable area of your house. However, as you may have discovered on hot days or cold nights, these spaces aren’t comfortable for inhabitants without some modifications.
Read on to discover how you can convert your spare space from a drafty dwelling to a cozy condo.
The Key to Converted Living Spaces: Insulation & Ductless Mini-Split Systems
Because these spaces were not built for human habitation, they aren’t insulated like the rest of your house is. You’ll need to take certain steps to add insulation so they aren’t prey to drafts and drastic temperature changes.
They’re also not serviced by your home’s HVAC system, meaning that they’re not heated and cooled along with the rest of your house. Fortunately, a simple solution lies in a ductless mini-split system. These systems eliminate the need to install ductwork or rely on unsightly window units. With a mini-split, the heating/cooling unit is installed outside. It is then connected to an inside unit through wires. The inside unit blows air into the room, making it comfortable with maximum precision. Ductless mini-split systems are ideal solutions for single rooms, additions, or small living spaces.
Converting an attic is a tempting option to capitalize on existing space within your home, but it can be a lofty project due to building codes that must be followed. If you’re lucky, your attic will fit your local standards for a livable space. If it does not, you may want to consider converting your garage or building an addition instead. Below are some tips to help you plan your attic conversion with success:
- Do your research – Look into your local building codes to determine if your attic meets the requirements to be used as a living space. These codes often specify minimum heights, widths, and requirements for safety such as a second exit.
- Find out if you need a permit – Depending on where you live, a building permit might be needed to add electrical wiring or change the structure of your home.
- Choose the amount and type of insulation – Depending on where you live and the specific construction of your attic, you may need more or less insulation to hold a comfortable temperature. There are also many types of insulation to choose from, such as loose fill or batt (blanket) insulation. An expert can evaluate your attic to determine which insulation option best suits your needs.
- Consider heating & ventilation – Your attic is likely not connected to the ductwork of your home’s HVAC system. An HVAC professional can evaluate your attic to see if this is advisable, and to ensure that air will be able to flow through and out of your attic. Instead of adding more ductwork, consider a mini-split system to allow you to control your attic’s temperature individually.
Although converting your garage sacrifices parking spaces, it’s a far easier and more obtainable goal than converting an attic. Most garages meet minimum requirements for livable space size without any alterations. Unlike attics, garages are ground level, making them ideal for seniors or anyone else who might have difficulty with stairs. This makes garages an attractive choice to gain extra living space. Below are some tips to consider for maximum comfort when converting your garage into a livable space:
- Use sufficient insulation – Every garage is unique, with some requiring more insulation than others. Have an expert evaluate your garage to advise you on the right amount of insulation needed to make yours comfortable.
- Install a ductless mini-split system – A garage is the perfect space for these dedicated HVAC units. Even though your garage is attached to your house, it’s going to have vastly different heating and cooling needs. A mini-split will allow you to control the garage’s temperature independent of your home.
- Install a dehumidifier – With our area’s humid summers, it’s important to control the humidity in your converted garage for maximum comfort. This will also prevent mold and keep clothing, bedding, and rugs dry.
- Soften the space – Garages can be stark, so a generous use of rugs, curtains, tapestries, and throw pillows can soften your converted garage with warmth and texture.
If you’re up for a challenge, converting your barn into a livable space might be for you. While this project is far more difficult than converting a garage or even an attic, the payout comes in gorgeous, open spaces with high ceilings and a chic rustic style. Below are some steps to get you started in the right direction:
- Consult an expert – You may be a card-carrying DIYer, but paying an expert to evaluate your barn can save you a large amount of money and countless headaches in the long run. An experienced local contractor will be well versed in your area’s building codes and can tell you what is legally required to convert your barn. They’ll also be able to map out the depth of the project for you, including whether you need to insert a foundation, rebuild the frame, or re-roof your barn. Once you’ve tackled those issues, you’ll be able to move on to the normal aspects of converting any space.
- Plan to install electricity, plumbing, & HVAC – Barns are their own separate dwellings, completely detached from your home and unable to draw on your existing systems. You’ll need to hire experts to install your wiring and plumbing. You’ll also need to decide how you’re going to heat and cool your converted barn. Here too, a ductless mini-split system is a simple solution that will allow you to save money and control your barn’s climate without installing complicated ductwork.
- Decide on insulation – As when converting any other space, you’ll need to insulate your barn. An expert can tell you what type and how much is best for your specific building. For barns, spray-in foam insulation is a particularly good choice due to its durability and affordability.
- Plan the interior finish work – Since you’re most likely not going to sleep in a stall, your converted barn will need to be outfitted with cabinets, counters, floors, and everything else that makes any space a functioning residence. This is where your unique tastes will be able to shine through!
How to Make Converted Living Spaces Comfortable
Converting any non-livable space into a comfortable area requires careful planning and adherence to local building codes. Attics, garages, and barns all have their own unique properties to consider when deciding whether you want to invest the time and money into converting them. No matter which space you choose to convert, a ductless mini-split HVAC system is the ideal choice to heat and cool your new living space. These units will not only save you time and money on adding complicated ductwork, but they’ll also heat and cool your new addition with precision for optimum comfort.
If you’re interested in a ductless mini-split for your converted area, contact National Heating and Air Conditioning. Our experts have been bringing Cincinnati the best in HVAC solutions for decades, and when it comes to professional-level service, there’s simply no one better. We’ll work with you to evaluate your converted area’s heating, cooling, and ventilation needs, then help you choose the best unit to ensure consistent comfort. When the time comes, we’ll install it with precision backed with our full money-back guarantee.
When tackling a big project like converting an attic, garage, or barn, HVAC should be one of the easiest aspects to determine and implement. Let us handle it for you so you can breathe easier and move on to more important things, like which style you’re going to decorate your new space in.
For ductless mini-split installation for your converted living space in throughout the Greater Cincinnati area, contact us online or call (513) 621-4620 today.