Are you allowed to use the attic in your condo for storage?
Many condo owners store things in the attic. Let’s face facts, there’s rarely enough storage room for all your stuff. But, are you actually allowed by the condo bylaws to use that space? Who owns it?
Most people, both buyers and sellers, don’t realize that quite often, the attic space isn’t owned by the homeowner. Many times it’s owned by the condo association. When selling condos, we’ve seen where the homeowner (or possibly a previous homeowner) installed a pull down staircase to give access to the attic for storage. In most towns, fire department regulations require attic access in case of a fire. This access is usually gained through a small hatchway, not a pull down staircase. However, there’s not much room to get stuff through a 14″ wide opening. As a result, sometimes people install a pull down staircase. And quite often, in order to get the staircase installed, the roof trusses get cut or partially removed to make room.
And this can possibly cause a serious problem. The truss system is engineered to support the weight of the roof, plus any additional load that is placed on the roof, such as snow. The trusses are actually a series of 2x4s designed to support all of that weight. When any of the trusses are cut, or even partially remove the truss, the structural integrity of the roof may be compromised. If the trusses are compromised, and if the roof fails, the responsibility will probably be on the homeowner’s shoulders, not the condo associations. Additionally, the fire wall between the interior of the house and the attic is almost always compromised.
If the condo association learns about a pull down staircase being installed, most of the time they’ll insist that it’s removed, and the trusses get returned to their original condition. Also, some towns won’t issue the Certificate of Occupancy unless the pull down staircase is properly removed. And the Certificate of Occupancy is necessary for the condo to be sold.
If you wish to make use of the attic space in a condo, you should speak with the association or read the bylaws. Maybe you can use the space, maybe you can’t. If you’re allowed to add a pull down staircase, have a licensed contractor install it. And get a permit as it will be much easier when it’s time to sell.
Speaking of selling, we’re Realtors. So when you’re ready to either buy or sell a home, please give us a call.
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