How do I get into the attic?
It is appropriate that this blog is being written on April 1, because sometimes when looking for an attic entrance it feels like a joke is being played on me. There are several ways to enter an attic.
The most common way (and one I love to see) are pull-down steps, often in a hallway or garage. These are typically easy to use although sometimes the area below the pull-down is populated by boxes, furniture or appliances. Usually with pull-down steps there is a floor area at the top of the steps.
The next most common is a hole in the ceiling that has a cover. These require entrance via step ladder. They are a little harder to enter and very typically there is no floor in the attic above. In general these are the attics I dislike the most.
In newer houses there are sometimes a stairwell that can be entered on the main level and you can walk straight into the attic. These are my favorite. Typically these attics are partially floored and you can walk around in them.
Also in newer houses that have a second story, there area often small doors in the wall near the floor in upstairs rooms that lead to parts of the attic or doors in the closets that lead to the attic. These are usually easy to enter, but you may have to go into 4 or 5 different areas to inspect the attic.
In older houses, attic entry holes may be in the top of closets. This can be challenging if the house is occupied and the closet is full of clothes and shelves with items on them. Even if the closet is empty these are difficult to enter.
There are times that you are ready to enter the attic and you can find no entry. On several occasions I have inspected homes that had been remodeled and the attic entry had been covered during the remodel. In these cases the attic cannot be inspected.
Just last week, I inspected a home built in 1930 that had a small door near the gable. As I inspected the interior of the home, I realized there was no interior entry to the attic. This required me to use my ladder outside of the home to climb into the attic thru the door near the gable.
The hardest attic I have ever "entered" was a home built in 1875. After I completed the interior inspection, I mentioned to the buyer that I had not seen an attic entry. He said, "Let me show you where they told me it was." He took me to a closet and said it is behind the ceiling. I looked up and saw a piece of sheet-rock about ten feet up that appeared to be nailed on the corners. I told him I couldn't take down the sheet-rock unless I got permission from the owner of the house. To make a long story short, we got permission. By the time I got thru removing the sheetrock and climbing up into the attic my feet were 10 feet off the ground. After all that trouble, the attic entry hole at the very top was just large enough for me to stick my arm thru and take pictures.