Under the 2009 International Residential Code, there is a new definition of a habitable attic space. The new language more clearly defines an attic space that can be considered habitable by mandating compliance to other areas of the code that fall under habitable spaces. For example, a habitable attic space now has to have minimum headroom heights per section R305, a minimum square footage of 70 sq. ft., and emergency escape and rescue access.
Many new homes include a space that is designed into the truss system of the roof which can provide a cost effective and easily accessible space for storage or even a bedroom and or bathroom. When we design these spaces into a home or addition we take into account what the space is going to be used for. If it will not be finished and will only be used for storage it does not have to be designed with exiting and access like regular living spaces. However, if the owner decides that they want to have the space as a bedroom or recreation room whether at the time of design or in the future, we include the life safety components to meet what the IRC defines as habitable space. In effect, the new definition does not change how we design these spaces.