4. Finished Attics
In New England, we have a lot of cape style homes, the old one and a half story castle. We squeeze a lot of use out of those finished attic spaces, but they are usually done cheaply, and end up causing long term damage to the roof of the house from structural instability and condensation related issues.
Insulated roof planes either need to be sealed or ventilated, and they often cannot be both properly insulated and ventilated. This leaves us with the only realistic option being spray foam, which is anything but cheap, but then again, a rotting roof, pooling condensation, and mold induced anaphylaxis are not cheap either.
The expense of framing dormers is greatly underestimated, and as a result many dormers are collapsing the roofs they are supported by. Your average gable roof is a two-legged stool. It relies on the attic floor to tie it together. It isn’t a magic trick, but if you remove structure and add load, you will get a “poof, and it’s gone” result. Again, good design saves you time and money.
If you are making changes, be sure you consult with the right professionals. Finishing an attic or dormering a roof are absolutely not a "three quotes and go" type project. You will need at a minimum: a designer or architect; an engineer; and a general contractor. Start with either a designer or a contractor as an entry point, and confirm that your project will be built with engineer stamped plans if changes are structural, and to energy code compliance standards. If you can't afford the designs, you definitely can't afford the work.