7 posts / 0 new
Last post
Mr. Bananas
Adding Dormers to Attic

My house is a small cape cod 2be 1ba with an attic that is being used as a 3rd bedroom. The highest point in the attic is about 6'4" inside, the same height as the dormers. The dormers are the only reason I can use this as a 3rd bedroom.

I live in NJ where my property tax is 3.4% and I don't want to add a second floor to my house because the value would increase to $300K+. The lack of a proper second storey is keeping my property tax "low" (by NJ standards).

So, my idea is remove the set of dormers as you see below and replace them with 2 sets, one set towards the front and one towards the back to have a total of 4 dormer windows, each with the same dimensions as now (about 7.5' wall-to-wall). I would also like to extend my roof so it covers my front porch.

According to this article, each dormer would cost about $15K. Does this cost of each dormer sound right? Also, how much would it cost to extend my room to cover the front porch? And, does it make sense to do this instead of adding a proper second storey, not minding property taxes?

Thanks

A. Spruce
Re: Adding Dormers to Attic

1 - You can't relate Florida pricing to your own location, it doesn't work that way.
2 - The writer is an architect, not a tradesman, and doesn't likely have a firm grasp on actual costs of things. The only real way to know what dormers will cost is to consult with a few local contractors. You're probably a lot closer to $5-7K than the $15k quoted in the article. If you plan to do any of the work yourself, even more savings for you.
3 - Extending the house roof over the front porch is completely doable, though will be dependent upon the structure itself, meaning, if the porch is built sufficiently to have the house extended over it, GREAT! If not, well, additional expense will be required to bring the porch up to snuff before the house is extended over it.

ed21
Re: Adding Dormers to Attic

I agree the only way to get a grasp on the cost is to get estimates. Costs in NJ are typically not cheap.
Another thought is you still only get a room with a 6'-4" ceiling height max at some locations.
Are you sure your assessment won't be increased? Maybe not as much as a real second story.
I would also price in the cost of an entirely new roof since the work looks extensive.
While the roof is mostly torn apart will you upgrade the insulation over the entire roof?
Just a few more things to consider.

Mr. Bananas
Re: Adding Dormers to Attic
A. Spruce wrote:

2 - The writer is an architect, not a tradesman, and doesn't likely have a firm grasp on actual costs of things. The only real way to know what dormers will cost is to consult with a few local contractors. You're probably a lot closer to $5-7K than the $15k quoted in the article. If you plan to do any of the work yourself, even more savings for you.
3 - Extending the house roof over the front porch is completely doable, though will be dependent upon the structure itself, meaning, if the porch is built sufficiently to have the house extended over it, GREAT! If not, well, additional expense will be required to bring the porch up to snuff before the house is extended over it.

I was hoping to do some net research before speaking to contractors. Yes, I will likely need to redo the entire area under the front porch. I didn't state this above but I want to add a single parking space to the front of the house. In that process, I would make sure there was a foundation to add the extension onto. Thanks.

Mr. Bananas
Re: Adding Dormers to Attic
ed21 wrote:

I agree the only way to get a grasp on the cost is to get estimates. Costs in NJ are typically not cheap.
Another thought is you still only get a room with a 6'-4" ceiling height max at some locations.
Are you sure your assessment won't be increased? Maybe not as much as a real second story.
I would also price in the cost of an entirely new roof since the work looks extensive.
While the roof is mostly torn apart will you upgrade the insulation over the entire roof?
Just a few more things to consider.

I'm not 100% the assessment won't be increased. BTW, how should I ask this question?[/U] I feel like I would be drawing attention to myself by bringing this up with my town.

I didn't state this but I would be using closed-cell spray foam under the roof to make the area completely livable. My latest utility bill covering mid-July to mid-August was nearly $300 due to my AC in my attic running constantly. If you don't have good insulation in the attic, it can be hell.
Here is my old thread on the insulation issue:
https://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?128482-Conflicting-advice-on-insulating-attic-and-or-space-below-attic

A. Spruce
Re: Adding Dormers to Attic

You can ask probing questions of the building/tax assessment authorities without drawing attention to yourself. When you walk in the door, they have no idea who you are or where you live, so all they have to go on is some random person asking questions.

The tax assessor can answer questions on what they consider taxable living space, then all you do is manipulate the words you use to describe your project and maybe bend the definition of things a touch. Case in point, I had a client that wanted to finish out the granny quarters above his garage. This was space that already existed and was a selling feature of the property from the builder. When the neighbor finished their granny quarters it cost them months of time and close to $2k for the permits. I found through multiple conversations with different authorities within the same office that they didn't want to issue permits that increased the population density of the property, so they exorbitantly priced the permits and made the requirements completely insane. By the time I was done, I walked out, permit in hand, for only $350.

In my case, they didn't want to see "living space", so I quit calling it granny quarters and started calling it a day-use rec room. Also, so as not to be considered living space there could be no cooking device, and had to have non standard counter height, and non standard sink. Easy, I simply raised the cabinets a few inches and put in a wet bar sink. As for the cooking device, it was a bare room when the inspector signed off, what the homeowner put in there after the fact was his own business. We had wired the place for a fridge and microwave, but you can't tell that by looking at an outlet cover.

So, what I'm saying here is this, figure out how the authorities define taxable spaces, then DO NOT use those terms, use terms that imply the space is for storage only. Then, leave the space unpainted, no floors, and unfurnished until after the assessment audit is done. When the inspector leaves, do whatever you want with the place.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Adding Dormers to Attic

The 6'-4" ceiling height will probably prohibit it from legally becoming "Habitable" IIRC the minimum for that is 6'-8". But what happens once the final inspection is signed off is up to you, and that's enough headroom for most people.

Homes here are often sold with a partially finished "Bonus Room" over the garage. Buyers think of it as a bedroom which it could legally be turned into and often is, but it's actually permitted and taxed as "Storage Space" which has to be legally changed for the new usage prior to use. If a potential buyer asks, they're told "It could become a bedroom if you want it to" which covers the agent and the sellers backside legally. Never heard of any problems till somebody tries to sell later on and lists it as a "Bedroom" instead of a "Bonus Room".

Phil

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.