Potential Project – The Attic

Apparently the art of making fences was not as exciting as I had envisioned.  So this evening I will focus on one of the major projects we’ve identified but can’t yet finance – the attic.  Now I know most attics are quite boring and my attic experiences are limited to adding insulation and dodging spider webs in an effort to get to storage, but this attic is different..

Yes, those are 16 foot ceilings – perhaps an indoor pole vaulting space?

Yes, those are 16 foot ceilings – perhaps an indoor pole vaulting space?

The previous owner decided the exposed beam was beautiful (and it is) but there is no insulation.  You may think there is insulation under the floorboards, but you’d be wrong.  There is a large cedar closet next to the door and a gigantic whole house fan in the middle of the room. 

Is it an aircraft propeller?  No, just a way to cool our house in the summer.

Is it an aircraft propeller?  No, just a way to cool our house in the summer.

You can see in the picture below that each bedroom has a transom window over the door.  In the summer, the outside windows are opened, the transom windows are opened, and the whole house fan provides a steady breeze through the room. 


Vent to the attic in the second floor ceiling

Vent to the attic in the second floor ceiling

I’m actually glad we have a year or more to discuss this project, because we’ll need it.  I like the idea of using the whole house fan instead of air conditioning in the summer due to the costs but I also want to use the space in the attic.  We’ve experienced the attic in the winter and it is quite cold.  I’m sure the summer will make the area unlivable due to the heat.  Some options:

1)      Finish the attic ceiling and add insulation.  I’ve been considering finishing the area between the ceiling beams, leaving them partially exposed.  We’d probably have to remove the whole house fan though.  The space could then be used for a kid’s play area with bunks, games, etc; a rental bedroom; office; or other living space.

2)      Insulate the attic floor and continue to use the whole house fan.  There is a door to the attic so we’d have to make sure that was tightly sealed as well.  We could use the area for storage but not living space.

3)      Maybe vent the whole house fan through the front gable or top of the roof?  I don’t know if this is possible and it may take up some room but we could keep the fan and finish the attic.  We may lose our window in front though.  Our roof is Buckingham slate (which I don’t want to mess with) except at the very top of the structure which is flat and looks metallic.

So what should we do?  Any creative suggestions?  To help your thought process, I’ve included a floor plan of the space.  If we decide to use your idea, it is worth one free lunch or dinner at the Manor.