Does Attic Count As A Story? (Explained!)

An attic is an indoor space between the highest floor of your house and the roof. Whether you have an attic in your old building already or you are considering buying a new building with an attic, you can be very interested in knowing if your attic counts as a story or not.

An attic can count as a full story or half-story. It all depends on so many requirements like the height of your ceiling, and the size of your attic floor.

In this article, we will take a close look at the different kinds of attics and how they are classified as a story or not.

Attic Count As A Story

Related article: Does a Basement Count as a Story?

Here’s If The Attic Counts As A Story :

According to architecture, for your attic to count as a full story, the walls must be at least 8fts high and the roofline must end above the windows on the wall of the attic.

But if the roofline ends on the floor of the attic with dormers and windows, and not above the windows on the wall, then your attic is considered a half story.

Is An Attic Considered A Story?

Most attics have knee walls.

(“Knee walls” is a term for walls that are very short walls and usually below 3 ft in height)

Since the walls of attics must be 8 ft or more, most attics are usually not considered stories because of these knee walls.

So if your building is old or traditionally fashioned with an attic, then it will most likely not meet the requirements to be considered a story.

But you can add dormers and windows to your wall so you can increase the height of your ceiling to make your attic a half story. And this is very cheap and easy to do, especially if you are currently living in the house with your family.

Renovating your attic into a full story will have to be a major project and cannot be done while people are still living under that roof. So if you plan to do this, it is advisable to do it even before moving into the house.

Also, local building codes and international residential codes count attics under different classes. And these classes often go a long way in deciding whether your attic is to be considered a story or not.

Your attics can be said to be habitable only if it has the markings of a living space. Some of these markings include:

  1. The floor is 70 square feet or more
  2. The roof ceiling is at least 7 ft higher than more than half of the floor space
  3. The roof ceiling over the rest of the floor space is at least 5 ft high
  4. The windows measure at least 8 percent of the floor space measurement
  5. At least 4 percent of the windows can be opened outside in case of a fire.

If your attic does not meet these requirements, then it is said to be non-habitable.

But non-habitable attics are still very useful as they provide you with extra storage space for items and objects.

(Sometimes, your attic may also be required to be accessible by a staircase with a width of at least 36 inches for it to be considered a Habitable Attic)

Does The Unfinished Attic Count As A Story?

Just like the name suggests, an unfinished attic is not habitable and hence does not count as a story.

Most times, unfinished attics are simply used as a storage space for items and valuables. But some can be renovated to become bedrooms, living rooms, etc, and prepared for people to live in them.

These unfinished attics that can be renovated are sometimes called Expansion Attics.

Expansion attics can then be remodeled to follow the requirements for them to be habitable, and then become finished attics.

Some of the conversions to be made include raising the roof and installing windows to increase the ceiling height.

Air and heat vents might also need to be added for proper ventilation, while also insulating the floor.

Note that these renovations might be very expensive. And depending on your location and the local building codes, you may also need to obtain permission from relevant authorities before you start the renovation.

Does A Finished Attic Count As A Story

If a finished attic meets all the earlier requirements, then it can count as a story.

But first, what does it mean for an attic to be finished?

An attic is said to be finished if it satisfies the requirement to be regarded as habitable, and can be accessed from inside the house.

Note that having a staircase may or may not be a requirement for your attic to be considered habitable.

But for it to be considered a finished attic, you must have this staircase inside, even though you could also replace the staircase with a pull-down ladder.

Also note that if you can access your attic through your garage, it is still not a finished attic.

What Counts As An Attic?

If the roof of your house is pitched, the space between the roof and ceiling is called the attic.

Many people keep pitched roofs because it helps them to save their roofs from collapsing due to the heavy weight that snow or rain can place on them. So having a pitched roof helps you to distribute weight and reduce the stress on your roof.

Depending on the design of your home, you may need a pull-down ladder, a staircase, or a door to gain access to the attic.

But sometimes, the only way to gain access to the attic might be through a very small hole. This kind of attic is called Scuttle Attic.

Sometimes, an attic may also be confused with a Loft. But the difference is simple.

If the ceiling of your building covers all the rooms of the building, then the space between the ceiling and the pitched roof counts as an attic.

But if the ceiling of your building covers a few rooms and leaves the other rooms open to the ground floor, then the space above the ceiling might not count as an attic. This space is called a Loft, although it is still very similar to an attic.

Another important difference is that while attics can be considered as a story if they meet certain conditions, lofts can never be considered.


For your attic to count as a story, it must first be finished.

And for your attic to be finished, it must be habitable. It must also be accessible from inside the house.