Greenwich has finally repealed its idiotic requirement that attics be unusable, and my friend Louis, "Luigi" Van Leeuwen has started a mini-business to help homeowners reclaim that space.
The new venture ... Greenwich Attic represents a collaboration between Cormac Byrne of architectural firm Jones Byrne Margeotes Partners, which has offices in Greenwich and Stamford, and Louis Van Leeuwen, who runs several businesses including Greenwich Construction and kitchen and cabinetry showroom Curry & Kingston.
For about 15 years, home builders in Greenwich have erected large wooden trusses in attics because of a 2002 rule meant to “curtail the building of McMansions,” according to Van Leeuwen. The trusses acted as a work-around of the regulation and ensured the attic space wasn’t usable for homeowners.
Opponents of the regulation have argued, among other things, that it didn’t have its intended effect on homes’ appearances.
“It didn’t curtail the bulk,” Van Leeuwen said. “And the firemen hated it because the trusses are mostly made from cheap pine that burn more quickly and with more intensity in addition to making it hard to navigate the roof. It was a safety issue.”
Following months of lengthy hearings, the Greenwich Planning & Zoning Commission changed the rule, which went into effect in August.
Although these excerpts from Greenwich Time's "article" make it clear that the paper is merely reprinting a press release, I can personally vouch for Lou's custom built homes and his personal integrity (I have to, or he won't take me fishing on his boat). But this regulation has always provoked me, because it served absolutely no purpose. The whole idea behind our town's floor area ratio was to reduce streetscape "bulk", and rendering attics unusable did nothing to accomplish that: a house remained exactly the same height, but its owners were forbidden to use the space in the attic. What business is it of anyone how much of the interior of his house a homeowner uses?
In any event, the regulation's been changed, and unlike most renovations that depreciate over time, like bathrooms and kitchens, adding living space should add value to your house and yield a positive return on your investment. And even if you just reclaim it as storage space, rather than add to your living area, you'll at least be getting more use from the house you paid for.
I'd look into it.