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Old 05-06-2013, 01:26 AM  
smittenbritt
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Default Project cost estimator.

We desperately need to be able to get into our attic and use it for added storage. And we need to get it done by August this year. Our current access is a tiny square in what is meant be my daughters walk in closet. But it's too small and almost blocked by the closets shelving and poles. I'm not too fond of its location anyway. So we have decided we want to relocate the access (possibly to the hallway, though it means moving recessed light) making it bigger than the current one and install pull down attic stairs. After which we would have to floor the attic with plywood. I'm worried about our ability to do this ourselves. But also the cost is scaring me as well.
I found this website that claims to lay out (used my zip code as part of the math) estimate costs for installing attic stairs for both the DIY route and PRO installation. But I'm not clear on if its taking into account there already being a hole in the ceiling for an access or if a whole new one has to be cut. For my area I was getting somewhere between $600 and $800 for pro installation (I'm in Los Angeles) does that sound like they would be cutting a new hole? Or just installing in a new stair set?

Thanks this is the link to the page I was looking at http://m.diyornot.com/Project.aspx?ndx1=1&ndx2=14&Rcd=14



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Old 05-06-2013, 07:54 AM  
nealtw
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It's not whether you can do it, should you do it?
Are the ceiling joists strong enough to carry anymore weight. Ceiling joists , 2x4, 2x6 or? and how long are they? How far apart are they?
Most times the hall ways of a house has one bearing wall where that supports the ceiling.
If the joists are 24" on center you can cut out a hole 22 1/2" by the width of the hall.
Most pull down stairs need more than 22 1/2".
The small hole you discribe in the closet may indicate the joists are at 16" on center.
In order to install a drop down stairs you may have to cut joists. If you have engineered trusses, the answer is no you can not cut them!
If they are just joists you may be able to cut them but then the cut joists would have to be supported as they won't be sitting on a bearing wall.
The quotes you have will not include all this extra work?



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Old 05-06-2013, 10:03 AM  
CallMeVilla
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Framing could be an issue for two reasons: (1) width of stair kit and (2) structural support in the attic for weight load.

Some amount of re-framing or bracing is typical. Adding a cross-brace is in your range of skill if you can cut and drill. Here is a basic primer on doing the install without too many complications. The guy is very patient and detailed:


It's always fun to find "good old boys" who take the time to show you a more advanced version of the stair install. (Multiple videos) This guy is a lot of fun and his series of videos takes on the more complicated versions of the process. It should give you some confidence on dealing with crossing over ceiling joists.

The weight load is another point. As Neal says, DO NOT cut engineered trusses. You can add cross-braces to the joists for strength. However, I suggest NEVER putting heavy items in the attic. Keep it to light boxes.

Also, you will encounter ROMEX that runs your electrical all over the house. DO NOT put plywood over the wiring where it overlaps the ceiling joists ... this pinches the wiring and could cause a fire.
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:58 AM  
smittenbritt
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Thanks.

Because I'm clueless about DIY (first house) an engineered truces is? The main support bearing beam? I'm not clued up the correct lingo.

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Old 05-06-2013, 11:01 AM  
nealtw
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Villa: I've watched your clips. The first one is great if you find joists running in the right direction and placement in the hallway to allow the hole to be somewhat centered without cutting one.
The second clip is a perfect arguement for building inspectors. The joist on each end of the hole should be doubled up, the side that is over their temp wall should have been doubled as all three of these are now load bearing beams. You do see one hanger in there but every joist should have had a hanger or old school pressure blocks, something that would allow the eight or ten nails to hold each one.
Lets look at the weight they have put on two joists. If the room is 12ft across and they have 1" of drywall, each joist was carrying about 30 pounds of drywall. By cutting out three, there 90 pounds have to go the the two joists that are left. So those to are carrying 75 pounds each and noe we are going to put a man on the ladder with whatever load he can carry to store in the attic or put a floor over that area and put who know how much weight on it. All on a few end nails holding up the joists.

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Old 05-06-2013, 11:33 AM  
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We do have another space that technically we could investigate putting an access in. But I assumed it is impossible. The previous owners converted the side garage into a 3rd bed and bath. They raided the roof to match the height of the rest of the house. But didn't create another attic. Instead the top of the bathroom is sort of like an open gallery (very small) next to what was the outside wall of the house. And we use that for storage as well (but we need much more, and have no garage) I thought about maybe having a door installed there. Like a walk in one but tiny (think the movie coralline ) but I assumed it would be impossible as its prob still the outside load bearing wall. I assumed the cost of doing that properly and safely would be ginormous? Either way we have no choice finding a way to add storage. My daughter needs her bedroom. And right now it's full of everyone else's stuff. And I can't even step I'm there for boxes.

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Old 05-06-2013, 12:28 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nealtw View Post
The second clip is a perfect arguement for building inspectors. The joist on each end of the hole should be doubled up, the side that is over their temp wall should have been doubled as all three of these are now load bearing beams. You do see one hanger in there but every joist should have had a hanger or old school pressure blocks, something that would allow the eight or ten nails to hold each one.
Lets look at the weight they have put on two joists. If the room is 12ft across and they have 1" of drywall, each joist was carrying about 30 pounds of drywall. By cutting out three, there 90 pounds have to go the the two joists that are left. So those to are carrying 75 pounds each and noe we are going to put a man on the ladder with whatever load he can carry to store in the attic or put a floor over that area and put who know how much weight on it. All on a few end nails holding up the joists.
You bet Neal! I was noticing the same thing as I watched his subsequent clips. We (you and I) need to help the new guy understand these issues. Since he may or may not tackle this project, our knowledge is going t keep him from making serious mistakes (like cutting an engineered truss).
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:33 PM  
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Smitten, you are very smart to be here asking honest questions. Pre-planning and learning can save you a lot of problems later. Plus, the process is FUN.

Many houses are built with engineered trusses. This carry the weight of the roof and tie into the walls to create a unified structure. Cutting a truss compromises the structure and causes weakness in the building. Translation: bad thing.

Here is what a somewhat typical engineered truss looks like. What do you have in your attic? Take a pic and post it.



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Old 05-06-2013, 12:36 PM  
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The idea of a door might acually be easier, the structure still has to be considered. It would be nice if you could get some photos from the inside of the attic, both that wall and the ceiling joists where you would like to put the stairs. And we would still want to look at the strength of the joists to carry any extra weight and what might need to be done to make it stronger.

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Old 05-06-2013, 01:26 PM  
smittenbritt
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Thanks those pictures and explanations helped a lot. I think I better understand what an engineered truce is now. My husband (he's been up there, I'm too chicken you know what at the moment as the ladder we have frightens me and I have to watch our daughter) says the beams go from the from the front of the house to the back of the house which is the direction we were thinking of installing the attic stairs if we put those in. But he did say he may have to cut one or two beams when I asked him if any would need to be cut. I need to show him this website. It's very informative and helpful. And perhaps he can get the pictures and post them. I can only post pics of our ceiling possibly the current access as you see it from dds room and the wall in mil's room from a distance. I though dh did say once the beams were typical spacing when I was reading up about putting plywood down for flooring.

How many people on hand do you think a project of this type would take? Would knocking a hole in what technically is/was the outside load bearing wall and putting a door in be a professional job? Costly?



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