» more from Slideshows

Jencks' Attic

Type: Attic Conversion
Footprint: 850 square feet, including a deck
Location: Northern California
Created: mid-1990s

Attic conversions are a good choice on small lots, and potentially economical ones if there is already enough headroom. However, it can be one of the more expensive and difficult in-law builds to undertake, and it works better for a younger family or tenants due to the stair access.

Legend has it around the neighborhood of this 1908 single-story home that its attic first became a living space during a divorce. The husband moved upstairs and installed some handsome built-in cabinetry, but curiously didn't put in insulation. This clearly needed to change when the present owners decided to convert it to a rental apartment, in hopes of eventually moving into the apartment themselves so they can rent out the downstairs and travel more. Master carpenter Alan Jencks expanded the living space, soundproofed the floors, and added a laundry and a small roof deck.

Photo: Muffey Kibbey | "In-Laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats " published by The Taunton Press in 2011