Author Topic: Finishing an attic  (Read 1629 times)

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2341
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Finishing an attic
« on: December 01, 2010, 06:41:01 AM »
Hey everybody,

The wife and I are thinking about refinishing our attic to be a family room, with a part set aside for a keezer and some pub-y stuff. Anyone have experience doing this? We've got a slate roof that's uninsulated (the house is about 150 years old), and would need to of course repair some leaks in the roof first. There's 50 m2 of space (500 sq feet ish) available, which I feel like is enough. One other point, and you may call me crazy: we're renting. Our landlord lives next door and is a super cool guy, and we're on a standard 3x3 French lease, which is to say, we're locked in for 9 years with 3-year intervals for renewals, rent increases, etc. Before doing ANYTHING I'd get something written that guarantees he wouldn't jack our rent or kick us out to try to get more money for the place (although there are laws in place that make it really difficult for him to do something like that). As I said he's a cool guy, so I'm not really worried about it, but I figure it'd be good form to do it anyway. We've already done a bit of refinishing in the basement (knocked out a brick-supported old old old sink, and installed a whole-house filtration/anti-hard-water system) that cost us about 700 euros, he didn't bat an eye although I assume he was pretty happy.

Am I crazy?
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!

Offline kerneldustjacket

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 179
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2010, 06:58:02 AM »
No, you're not crazy. Assuming you will be in the house for something like 5 years or more, then you should get a return on your "investment." Which is to say, if you look at how much you'll spend and then look at how long you'll get enjoyment from it, then it may indeed be worth it. Heck, if the "per-hour" enjoyment you get from it is less than the cost of a family trip to a movie -- popcorn, drinks and all -- then you're certainly ahead!

<snip> Before doing ANYTHING I'd get something written that guarantees he wouldn't jack our rent or kick us out to try to get more money for the place (although there are laws in place that make it really difficult for him to do something like that). As I said he's a cool guy, so I'm not really worried about it, but I figure it'd be good form to do it anyway.<snip>


I've heard a story where a guy's son was renting a house that was in need of extensive repainting. So he asked the landlord if it was OK for them to do it, using their own money. Landlord said "sure!"
When it was done, the landlord tripled the rent, claiming "I can get more for it than what you're paying." His son refused and moved out, and they lost the money they spent repainting the place.
But that was here in the US and things may be different there, both in terms of laws and landlord attitude.

Good luck...and post pics if you do it!
John Wilson
Savannah Brewers League
Savannah, GA

Offline oscarvan

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1707
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2010, 08:05:54 AM »
I know things are different in Europe, but human nature is human nature. I would visit Monsieur l'avocat (or Madame as the case may be) and get advice. Maybe draw up a very simple piece of paper that spells out who can, and will do what, and what not.

Peace of mind for a few Euros.

After that, have at it. Insulation is #1. Working under slate is tricky. The slate needs to breathe so you can't go right up to it. But, 4 or 5 centimeters is enough. I would think a foil faced foam board installed between the rafters and then finish it across the rafters with either a gypsum board or tongue and groove wood. You'll need heating too. Since you're so close to the roof you may be able to install a thermal solar panel. (depending on orientation). Wouldn't that be cool......"green" beer.
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline Mikey

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2010, 08:20:48 AM »
I've had rental property over the years and I never had renters offer to do extensive remodeling, as you described. In most cases I wouldn't have trusted them to do it anyway.

If it was me, I'd never put money into someone else's investment. If the landlord was willing to reduce the rent by at least the cost of the materials alone, then I might possibly be tempted, but probably not.

Offline Malticulous

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 367
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2010, 08:33:59 AM »
I've thought about doing something with my attic. The ceiling joyce are much too small to support a floor. Framing and subfloor would be most of the work.

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2341
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2010, 08:53:56 AM »
I've thought about doing something with my attic. The ceiling joyce are much too small to support a floor. Framing and subfloor would be most of the work.

Thankfully mine's already finished and "walkable."

I know things are different in Europe, but human nature is human nature. I would visit Monsieur l'avocat (or Madame as the case may be) and get advice. Maybe draw up a very simple piece of paper that spells out who can, and will do what, and what not.

Peace of mind for a few Euros.

After that, have at it. Insulation is #1. Working under slate is tricky. The slate needs to breathe so you can't go right up to it. But, 4 or 5 centimeters is enough. I would think a foil faced foam board installed between the rafters and then finish it across the rafters with either a gypsum board or tongue and groove wood. You'll need heating too. Since you're so close to the roof you may be able to install a thermal solar panel. (depending on orientation). Wouldn't that be cool......"green" beer.

Yup, that's the idea - get a lawyer to make things 'tres propre.' For heating, I was actually thinking about going with a wood-fired stove since it doesn't need to be hot all the time in there - http://www.castorama.fr/store/Poele-a-bois-HF-3930-PRDm993298.html?navAction=push&navCount=19&categoryId=cat_id_370&sortByValue=&isSearchResult=

Solar panels are a great idea, but I dunno if the roof can handle the weight. Eventually I want to build my own house, colonial row-house style, somewhere near here, but land prices are $$ and building materials are $$$,$$$,$$$,$$$.$$ so that project is a ways off - once I do it, though, I'm definitely using solar and putting up a wind turbine. Construction material costs are the real trouble, honestly, and it's high on my list of reasons I miss the US and A.

Oh, yeah - I forgot to mention, in the vein of modifications - I built a deck on the property already. Wood is SUPER EXPENSIVE here, I used treated polish pine and it came out to about 900 euros for wood alone. I remember a Lowes quote at something like $200. Here's the finished product:



So, he knows I do a good job when I go to do something, so hopefully that'll swing in my favor.

If it was me, I'd never put money into someone else's investment. If the landlord was willing to reduce the rent by at least the cost of the materials alone, then I might possibly be tempted, but probably not.

Yeah, that's one thing for sure - I'll ask him to split the costs with me, by rent reduction if necessary.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 08:56:13 AM by phillamb168 »
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!

Offline oscarvan

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1707
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2010, 09:35:19 AM »
For heating, I was actually thinking about going with a wood-fired stove since it doesn't need to be hot all the time in there -

Don't know how much frost you get, but if you're going to have liquids up there....
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline MrNate

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 967
  • Bridgewater, NJ
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2010, 10:45:24 AM »
For heating, I was actually thinking about going with a wood-fired stove since it doesn't need to be hot all the time in there - http://www.castorama.fr/store/Poele-a-bois-HF-3930-PRDm993298.html?navAction=push&navCount=19&categoryId=cat_id_370&sortByValue=&isSearchResult=

So you're thinking about using a fuel that, by your own admission, is regionally scarce and expensive? I'm just sayin.

Is any fuel cheap there?
“If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception.”

Offline oscarvan

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1707
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2010, 11:38:48 AM »
Lumber is scarce......dead branches are not.
Wooden Shoe Brew Works (not a commercial operation) Bethlehem, PA
http://www.woodenshoemusic.com/WSBW/WSBW_All_grain_Setup.html
I brew WITH style..... not necessarily TO style.....

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2341
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2010, 11:42:32 AM »
Lumber is scarce......dead branches are not.

Yup, exactly. And re liquids, it doesn't get that cold up there because warm air rises and my radiator returns go up through there. It's cold but never freezing. Plus, most of the liquids I'll have up there will have alcohol in them which lowers the freezing point ;-)
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!

Offline EHall

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 604
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2010, 01:03:21 PM »
I'm with Mikey, why would you want to invest in someone else's property?! Save your money so you can get your own place sooner. How much of these improvement do you get to take with you?
Phoenix, AZ

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2341
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2010, 02:19:32 PM »
I'm with Mikey, why would you want to invest in someone else's property?! Save your money so you can get your own place sooner. How much of these improvement do you get to take with you?

Thr reason I was even thinking about doing this is because I thought the price wouldn't be more than €5-7k - and it's going to cost us about €400k to build a house - so I was thinking that if we're in the place for 9 years and it costs no more than even 10k, that's only 1k per year, which isn't too bad. I see what you're saying but there's (I think) an order of magnitude of difference between what  this'll cost me versus the cost of te home. Again maybe I'm lowballing the work needed... If it's more than 10k I ain't doing it.
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8197
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2010, 03:31:19 PM »
Thr reason I was even thinking about doing this is because I thought the price wouldn't be more than €5-7k - and it's going to cost us about €400k to build a house - so I was thinking that if we're in the place for 9 years and it costs no more than even 10k, that's only 1k per year, which isn't too bad. I see what you're saying but there's (I think) an order of magnitude of difference between what  this'll cost me versus the cost of te home. Again maybe I'm lowballing the work needed... If it's more than 10k I ain't doing it.
I think as long as you can get the landlord to sign an agreement that he cannot raise the rent based on improvements that you've made, then the enjoyment you'll get out of it for the next 9 years is worth it.  The amount you're talking about spending is a small fraction of what you need to save anyway.  Just consider how long it will delay your goal to spend the money now - adding 3 or 6 months to the end of a 9 year wait doesn't sound terrible considering the benefits, adding 2 years does.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline weazletoe

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2169
  • Mecca, Ohio
    • View Profile
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2010, 04:30:05 PM »
When we lived back in Ohio, my mancave was in the attic. I'll tell you from experience, it gets cold in the winter, and cold in the summer. If I were you, I'd put the brakes on the wood stove idea. Holly is an ibsurance agent, and she knows form dealing with it, unless the house was built with the idea of having a stove, you insurance will be null and void should anything happen. In my old mancave, I put a 40$ electric heater in there, from Wal-Mart. I kept it on low all day, and turned it up, when I was in it. It was comfortable. In the summer, I put a small window a/c unit at one end, and a fan at the other end, to pull the hot air out, and cool ait across the room. It was bearable this way. It was also insulated very well, wich is something you must do. If you heat your attic, and are not insulated properly, snow will melt on the roof, and the water can run down into the walls, freezing there, or behind the gutters, and pull them down. Again, insurance is off the hook, because it is a flaw in the workmanship.
A man works hard all week, so he doesn't have to wear pants all weekend.

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2341
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Re: Finishing an attic
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2010, 03:04:16 AM »
When we lived back in Ohio, my mancave was in the attic. I'll tell you from experience, it gets cold in the winter, and cold in the summer. If I were you, I'd put the brakes on the wood stove idea. Holly is an ibsurance agent, and she knows form dealing with it, unless the house was built with the idea of having a stove, you insurance will be null and void should anything happen. In my old mancave, I put a 40$ electric heater in there, from Wal-Mart. I kept it on low all day, and turned it up, when I was in it. It was comfortable. In the summer, I put a small window a/c unit at one end, and a fan at the other end, to pull the hot air out, and cool ait across the room. It was bearable this way. It was also insulated very well, wich is something you must do. If you heat your attic, and are not insulated properly, snow will melt on the roof, and the water can run down into the walls, freezing there, or behind the gutters, and pull them down. Again, insurance is off the hook, because it is a flaw in the workmanship.

The house was built with wood-burning fireplaces and chimneys on both sides, so I know it's had wood burned in it before. But that's a great piece of advice, to check with our insurance first. Thanks!

For summer, I'm not too worried. We get about a week of an 85-degree "heat wave" and then it settles to 75-78 for the entire summer, so I think I'll be ok. Sure beats the heck out of the Arkansas summers I grew up with. 90 deg f, 70% humidity. No thanks.
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!