May 13, 2011

Attic Access: A Progression Of Sorts

When we first moved into this house, we couldn't figure out how to get into the attic. The house inspection report included the attic, but since we weren't here for the inspection, we could not for the life of us figure out how the inspector got up there. We looked in all the logical places first, then all the illogical ones. At long last we found it....

It was inside my closet.

Now, consider that the ceiling in this closet is almost 9 feet high. Consider that the closet width is barely 2 feet. That the shelf and clothing rod have to be removed in order to get a ladder in there. That the ladder barely fits anyway. Do ya reckon this one qualifies for a "what in the world were they thinking" award?

At that time, we were working on tearing down the old chimney, and installing chimney pipe for the soapstone woodstove. I didn't really feel like taking all my clothes, rod, and shelf out of the closet every morning so we could work in the attic. Nor was it easy to haul tools and heavy chimney pipe up that way. We finally opted for the field expedient method, and cut a rude opening in the front porch ceiling.

This ceiling is a disaster anyway and will have to be replaced when we do the front porch, so what's one more big ugly hole? At least it was close to the part of the attic we needed to work in.

Of course, this is at the front of the house. Now we need to work in the attic area above the kitchen, at the rear of the house (floor plan here.) Not only will we need to haul more chimney pipe into the attic for the wood cookstove, but also materials so that we can remove that stupid post in the middle of the kitchen.

All of this was leading up to the decision to install proper attic access. In some ways we were reluctant, because after the detour with the back porch, we've been anxious to get on with the kitchen project. But really, Dan needs to be able to get up there for that, and in the long run we'll be glad we did it.

Where to put it? We decided that the back porch ceiling would be the most logical location.

Now we have a foldable aluminum ladder, just a cord pull away. I'd also like to put down a sheet or two of plywood on top of the ceiling joists for a little bit of attic storage space as well.

Up next? Well, we're on a slight goat detour at the moment (more on that soon), but the next project on the house will be the electrical work and moving the service panel. For that I need to have my lights, switches, and outlets figured out for the kitchen, (also neglected due to kidding and garden). Funny how summer has a way of shifting our project focus, but we plan to get back on track with the kitchen soon.


Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Well I guess if you didn't put the new access door in, the attic would have been a good place to hide your valuables. No one wAs going to that much trouble to get up there.

Renee Nefe said...

I wonder if the attic access in your closet was put in afterward also?
Glad that you got your ladder. I keep trying to talk my hubby into one of those ladders (every year when we're getting the Christmas decorations) but he won't budge on it...says we don't need it. oye! note: I didn't bother trying to get those decorations the year he wasn't here.
I hope you can get your kitchen done soon!

Michelle said...

Were attics not important back in the day? I know they were, in general, but my house was built in 1940, and the only attic access is a hole in the ceiling of the back porch. It's extremely difficult to get up there, much less haul things up there for storage. And the worst part? There is almost a whole 'nother house up there! We have yet to decide on a "good" place to cut a hole in our ceiling, either. :-/

Donna said...

Perfect place for it if you ask me. I'm sure the hole in the closet was an afterthought, its just not practical.

Leigh said...

Jane that's true. Likely no one would be able to find it either, LOL

Renee, that could be. So many things about this house have left us scratching our heads. My DH wasn't too sure we needed one either. After the fact he's glad. We do need to do a lot of work up there, but I'll be happy for a little extra storage as well!

Michelle, that is odd. Now my grandparents house, build in the late 1900s, had full stair access to their attic. I loved it when I was a kid, and I'm sure my grandmother loved the storage.

Donna, definitely not practical. It was probably the best place for an unsightly hole in the ceiling!

Woolly Bits said...

we don't have a proper attic, it's only a crawl space - but with the recent rat damage up there I'd have been extremely happy to have a proper ladder and standing space! even if you don't store things up there - proper access will pay off in the future! funny though how they hid the opening:)) maybe the previous owners were already too old to even attempt to go up there and just wanted to hide the access from sight?
I know how summer/garden etc. can shift priorities - when you have to work outside you have to be flexible to use good weather etc. you'll be able to work on the kitchen during bad weather in the autumn/winter period?

DebbieB said...

What a goofy place for your original attic access! Who wants to remove all closet contents every time they need to get up there??

In my parents' house, where I grew up, the attic access was a regular door in the hallway of the upstairs. You just walked right in! My dad floored most of it, so we had oodles of storage. My current house has access that looks just like your new one, with a wooden stair that pulls down from the ceiling. Since we have the issue with excess heat here in the deep south, we have a cardboard box that sits inside/above the access panel and insulates it so that the heat doesn't leak in. Our access panel is in the hallway to the bedrooms.

BrokenRoadFarm said...

At least you found it - I have watched home improvement shows on TV where the "access" doors are built behind the walls! You are lucky to have a handy hubby who can put a nice new one exactly where you need it.

Tina T-P said...

That's one thing about a manufactured home - no attic -

I hope Jasmine is doing better - one of my spinner guild members is losing one of her corriedales to mastitis - she's had a hard year and has lost three prize winning sheep. :-(

Good luck on your electrical project! T.

Callie Brady said...

Well, I guess the closet access did cut down on a bunch of junk getting stored in the attic. Very nice new attic ladder.

Leigh said...

Bettina, I've thought about your "attic" at times when I'm tempted to complain about ours. I reckon it's making the best of what we've got! I'm just thankful we had room to put the ladder in.

Debbie, that's how my grandparents attic was. It was a house sized room and wonderful storage. During holidays, when all the aunts, uncles, and cousins spent the night, it was a great treat to sleep in the attic on a cot!

BRF, behind walls?!?!?! Sheesh, and I thought ours was bad, LOL. We'd never have found it there.

Tina, And no basement either! Of course, we don't have a basement either, which Dan really misses having.

That is such sad news about your spinning friend and her sheep. I never thought about sheep getting mastitis, but of course any lactating animal can develop it.

Jasmine is back to her old self. After several days of constant, pitiful hollering, (unless I was standing there paying attention to her), she finally is more interested in being boss goat again. This may sound odd, but I'm not entirely certain she has mastitis. She definitely has a problem with the right side of her udder, but she doesn't seem to be producing milk on that side. It's hard as a rock but I can't get anything out of it and it isn't getting larger and more swollen with milk. It hasn't changed size at all. Very puzzling.

Callie, that's a good point! This house was so full of junk when we bought it, more would have been worse!

Kari said...

Those folding stair attic doors are the way to go. Our last house had the attic divided into 3 sections. Two had the pull down ladders and the third had one of those tiny little access holes in a closet ceiling and the roof line was so low there you had to crawl on your belly to get around. Or rather, my poor husband had to crawl around - I was never brave enough to go up there!

I'm glad to see in your comment that Jasmine is doing better. I've been checking your blog every day for updates.

Leigh said...

Kari, how odd about the attic in your last house. What do folks think of sometimes!

Jasmine is doing a whole lot better. She is just like her old self, for which I'm thankful. I was concerned about the infection, but also about her udder problem because the vet told me they'd seen the rupture from mastitis and unreleased milk. The odd thing is that she doesn't seem to be producing milk on that side at all. It's been a week today and that side of her udder hasn't changed at all. That's a relief in one way, but sad in another.

We're trying to decide if we should sell her or not. Her chances of being bred again seem slim, but the vet said it wasn't completely hopeless. I'm just going to get her healed and wait and see.

Kari said...

That is a hard decision. Realistically I know that farm animals are supposed to earn their keep, but I have a bad habit of making everything into a pet. We've talked about trying to raise our own animals in the future, but for now we are buying from my sister and from a local farm that raises grass-fed cattle and sheep. Because as bad as I am about animals, I think my husband might be worse. :)

Leigh said...

Kari I think a lot of us have that struggle. Most of us didn't grow up with farm animals and livestock, but rather pets. We tend to think of animals that way and that's how we treat them. Dan and I have to make conscience choices not to get attached!

chris said...

my house in las vegas was built in 1973, really not that old, but we had the exact same attic situation here. everything here is built like crap. you have never seen such bad construction. dan would think he died and went to hell if he saw some of this. we put our pull down stairs in the 2nd. floor landing. works great, also planked the attic floor for storage. amazing how much daylight can be seen through the tile roof. no leaks though. rain drys in mid air here. can't wait to see the kitchen.

Leigh said...

Chris, you'd think by the 1970s they'd have this stuff figured out! I reckon poor building practices have been around forever. Planking the floor sounds like a great idea. We've talked about it but our ceiling joists are not consistent in size, so the floor would be really wavy! I got a chuckle from your comment about rain. :)