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The Attic Renovation: Lighting and Heating

We parted ways with the contractor in January of 2006, but the second floor was far from finished. We still needed to install the flooring, doors and trim. More importantly, we needed new hot water radiators and to replace the undersized pipes running upstairs. In fact, the entire hydronic heating system had to be overhauled, and it would be another year and a half before we could afford to have that work done. There was no sense in finishing the floor until the plumber did his work, since he would have to cut access holes in the floor to run pipes.

In the meantime, I painted the second floor and finished off the electrical work, installing the lights, plugs and switches.


We selected a 3 light pendant fixture with an oil-rubbed bronze finish for the hallway. The light is controlled by 2 switches upstairs (one located outside of each of the two bedrooms) and a third switch at the bottom of the stairs.

hallway light
Hallway light. (The wires hanging to the right are for the smoke detector)

Daughter’s bedroom

There are three ceiling fixtures in our daughter’s room. 2 matching lights in the main part of the room, and a smaller globe fixture in the back dormer area,

bedroom lights
Lights in the larger bedroom (our daughter’s room)

Side Attic

A single bulb provides sufficient light for the side attic. No need to change the air handler filter in the dark. A light bulb cage protects the bulb, flexible conduit protects the wire.

light in side attic
Side attic.

Guest room

A single fixture provides the light in the guest room.

guest room light fixture
Guest room light.

Smoke detectors

You will notice that there is a smoke detector in each bedroom, and you will also see wires hanging from a junction box in the ceiling in the hallway. The smoke detectors are the hardwired type with battery backup.

Plumbing for hydronic heat

We have a hot water boiler system and it was in need of an overhaul. In the summer of 2007, we hired a specialist to re-plumb the entire house separating it into different zones. Each of the two bedrooms upstairs are on their own zone which allows them to be heated independently. There are also separate zones for the addition, the main floor and the indirect hot water tank. We added another zone in 2009 for the in-floor heating in the main floor bathroom, kitchen and hallway.

boiler zone control
Boiler zone controls. Two of those pumps are for each of the upstairs bedrooms.

Momentum slows

In the fall of 2007, I began patching some of the floor that the plumber had cut away for running the pipes to the radiators. But we soon dropped all extra spending so we could concentrate on reducing our overall debt.

In the spring of 2008, my father passed away and I focused my attention on getting my childhood home for the market.

It is unfortunate that it took a death in the family and the resulting inheritance to give us the financial means to finally finish the second floor. We wanted to make sure we did things right, so we hired an architect to oversee an extensive renovation project that would deal the structural issues of our house from the ground up, while giving us a new bedroom, bathroom, laundry room and kitchen. Finishing the second floor in 2009 became part of that project.

As it turned out, the endless delays in finishing the second floor renovation worked in our favor. There were significant structural repairs that had to be made on the lower levels which resulted in substantial stress cracks in the drywall on the upper level. The floor in the guest room was also sagging quite a bit because a supporting wall had been removed below it on the main floor. Finishing the rest attic before the structural repairs were made would have been a waste of time, money and effort.

The Attic Renovation