Attic in duplex

4 Replies

Hello all,

I'm looking at buying an additional question and have a unique scenario that I'm hoping someone else has run into. The present owner was attempting to renovate and live in one side. In his efforts, he removed the staircase to the attic on one side. The attic has great headspace and would be a wonderful finished space to add to the building when we reno. Because the one staircase has already been removed, I am considering just giving the one unit the entire third floor. 

Here are my concerns:

1. Has anyone done this before? Any issues with fire rating on the floors? Would I have to fire rate the attic floor even though the ceiling below was never removed?

2. Any concerns with long term value? Obviously one side will rent significantly higher due to the extra space.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'm looking forward to hearing if anyone else has run into this. Thanks in advance for the help!

How many beds/baths?  I would say you will end up having to not only add floor joists to the attic to withstand the additional load and would have to be fire rated as well, if not sprinklers as well.  Depends on your local building codes.  The big question to me is the extra return worth the expense?  

@Katie Miller

I have a duplex that's laid out the same way. I advertise it as an extra bedroom and charge an extra $150 than the unit below. My current tenants use it as their master bedroom since its a larger space. I did not check with code to be honest since thats how it was when I purchased it.

@ Michael Hicks

Currently, the one side is a 3/1 and the second side is a 2/1... Attic is only accessible via the 3 bed side currently. My thoughts would be to make the third floor a master suite for the three bed unit and have combine two tiny bedrooms into one on the second floor, yielding a three bedroom total for that side.

I thought about the floor joists as well. They are true 6" lumber so they may make me sister them worst case scenario. I have another unit where the building dept. didn't make me do anything with the existing joists. I would be rolling the dice on that portion, but thats not a huge cost. 

I have never had to add sprinklers in anything residential at this point. I believe our code only requires that if there are three or more adjoining units so it is treated as commercial.

On the costs, the units are going to have to be almost completely stripped to the studs everywhere so my thoughts were now is the time to do the work and force appreciation. I plan to hold on to it for awhile... the area is really up trending.

@Michael Barbari

Good to know it is working out for someone! I wish it was done in advance for us as well so we could get grandfathered in on any code issues.

There are open permits at the property from the previous owner so there is no way I am sneaking anything by on it at this point.

Thanks for your reply.

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