Vaulted Ceilings: Pros and Cons

Vaulted Ceilings: Pros and Cons
Vaulted ceilings

Does your house feel small and cramped inside? Are you looking to add space and value without creating a home addition?

Today we are going to talk about vaulted ceilings, how they can add value and space to a cramped interior, what is involved in that process, and whether the price and the hassle are worth it in the end.

Is Your House Right For a Vaulted Ceiling?

Not every home can support a vaulted ceiling. Only a contractor and a structural engineer can tell you for sure.

However, with a quick trip up to your attic, you can get an idea of whether a vaulted ceiling is right for you.

Here’s what you need to look for:

Framing & Pitch

Is your roof framed with rafters or trusses?

The difference between these could mean a 40% difference in price or make a vault impossible.

Rafters leave much more open space between the lumber used for framing.

Trusses, on the other hand, are more complicated. They have what’s called a web inside each framing piece, using more lumber and leaving much less space.

It’s more complicated to adapt trusses to a vault.

In fact, in some cases, you would have to remove your roof and start over to get the vault you want so that it might be a deal-breaker.

The pitch of your roof also factors into the price.

Masonry

Do you have a chimney slanting through your attic space?

Although relatively uncommon, some old houses have a chimney slanting at about a 45-degree angle once it hits the attic.

It’s sometimes called a “witch’s bend,” according to old wives tails to keep witches from flying in.

More likely, it has something to do with making some part of the framing simpler to do accomplish.

In any case, vaulting a ceiling with a chimney isn’t necessarily a problem, unless your chimney has a bend or is unfinished through the attic space. Rebuilding a fireplace could be an expensive undertaking.

Electrical, Plumbing & Ductwork

Much of the innards – if you will – of a house is hidden up in the attic. Moving electrical lines, which are often attached to the tops of the joists, is an easy task.

However, moving some types of plumbing lines and HVAC ductwork (or your air conditioner) could get more tricky, and expensive.

The price all depends upon how complicated it is to move this stuff around.

Can You Vault Your Ceiling Yourself?

No part of vaulting a ceiling is a DIY job. It’s potentially dangerous from beginning to end because of the structural, electrical, plumbing, and height issues involved.

Whenever you mess with the structure of your house, you need to make sure you’re doing it right, or you could have significant problems down the road.

Pros and Cons of Constructing Vaulted Ceilings

Pros

If your house is an ideal candidate for a vaulted ceiling, the cost could easily range from $18,000 to $25,000. In addition, it could take about a month to complete for an average 20 x 20-foot room.

That’s a relatively small investment in time and money to get through a major value-adding renovation.

This type of construction lends itself well to other changes like opening up your floor plan and putting in skylights, both of which make an otherwise average home much more attractive to future buyers.

You could boost your home’s resale value.

Vaulted ceilings add space without the expense and major renovation factor of building an addition.

Cons

A ceiling vault is still a significant renovation. You will have to completely move out of that part of your house and probably suffer through several days or weeks without heating, cooling, plumbing, or electricity while those things are run.

The cost may be prohibitive. Although many 1990s tract homes have 8-foot ceilings and chopped up floor plans, some higher-end homes won’t gain as much value from this renovation simply because it’s expected.

It’s always a good idea to check with a realtor if resale value is on your mind.

Additional projects, such as adding skylights or moving walls, will add time and money. Sometimes these renovations have a domino effect, where you can’t change one big thing without also or first changing three other things.

A project like this can quickly get out of hand without detailed planning.

Takeaway

Vaulted ceilings are beautiful. They add light and space to an otherwise cramped interior. Moreover, they can add a value to the right house without the need to build an addition.

If you are considering vaulting your ceilings and live in Southeast Michigan, please give us a call. We’re here to help!

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