How Do You Install an Attic Window?

Dormer WindowThere are different aspects to consider on how to install an attic window. Installing a new attic window, also known as a dormer window, will not only enhance the overall look of your home, but boost the equity as well. Older homes typically have unfinished attics that can potentially be ‘dormered’, which will allow light to filter in to a once dark space. In addition to allowing more light in, a beautiful dormer window adds storage and an outlet in case of an emergency. Before you install your new dormer window, it’s important to consider the building code requirements, costs, and which style will best enhance the look of your home.

The following guidelines will give you a better understanding regarding this kind of project and what’s involved so you’ll know what to expect and achieve the desired results.

The Basics on How to Install an Attic Window

An attic window is intended to open up a portion of your roof in order to accommodate light, air, and a plausible exit in the event of an emergency. A dormer window is an attractive architectural feature that has its own siding and roof. From the inside, a dormer provides more overall headroom, extra storage space, and versatile floor space as well.

Drawing Up the Plans for a Dormer Window

In general, a dormer window should visually look the same as the home it’s going to accommodate. The most common kinds of dormer windows include hipped, gabled, and shed. Eyebrow and inset dormers have panache and style but are more expensive to incorporate, according to Houzz. Help your general contractor or architect see how you envision your dormer windows by sketching out some drawings. A professional will obviously have more ideas than you will, which is why you’re paying them. However, your primary sketch will get the ball rolling in the right direction.

If sketching isn’t your strong point, just take digital pics of your home and print numerous copies. Next, draw in your ideas using a Sharpie. Keep in mind, that just because you like one idea or style doesn’t mean you’ll be able to implement that exact vision since many practicalities and structural limitations can potentially change both the location and size of your attic window.

General Contractors and Architects

Your general contractor or architect will identify any load-bearing walls and then research corresponding permits, covenants, and local codes that might be related to your particular remodel.

The cost to hire an architect can vary greatly. But, they can sometimes charge as much as $150 an hour or more just for a consultation and an additional 5-25 percent of the cost of the entire project. Likewise, a general contractor will usually charge a fee for their services which often includes drawing up plans and obtaining permits from the local area building department.

Essential Steps on How to Install an Attic Window

  1. Basic Construction – The contractor makes a hole in the roof of your home, adds the framing, and subsequently installs the window.
  2. Proper Sealing – Next, galvanized metal flashing is installed where the existing roof intersects with the new sides and roof. Be sure a qualified, experienced roofing contractor completes this part of the project. It’s best to thoroughly inspect the new flashing each year in order to keep if free from debris, rust, or pitting.
  3. The Finishing Look – Last, the contractor will finish the new dormer roof and sides to perfectly blend with the current siding and roofing features.

Protection from the Elements

Installing a dormer window means that your home’s roof will generally be open to the elements and expose the inside of your home for about a week. Therefore, your contractor needs to temporarily provide adequate protection from the weather elements at the end of every workday until the project is completely done.

Attic Window Costs

The final cost will primarily depend on the size of your new attic window, the quality of the windows and materials used, and the general steepness of your home’s roof. You should expect to spend anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000 for the external work, while the interior work is extra. The most economical style is a shed dormer, which typically costs around 40 percent less than a standard gable dormer.

Dormer Window Specifications

In order to make sure every aspect of the project harmonizes well from an architectural viewpoint, choose windows that ideally blend with your current windows along with the general style of your home.

Attic windows that offer an emergency outlet should adhere to certain code specifications, such as:

  • The new window must be no less than 24 inches high or 20 inches wide and have an opening of at least 5.7 sq. ft.
  • The part of the window that opens must be big enough to allow an adult person to escape through it.

Choose Energy Efficient Windows

Energy efficient attic windows will greatly reduce the overall cooling and heating costs of your attic. Both the dormer position and climate will affect which window you’ll ultimately choose. Look for the Energy Star label to find which window will ideally work best for your home. For more information on how to install an attic window, consult with your general contractor or architect.

Related Resource: Install a Gliding Window