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The most common attic remodel project is to turn the space into a new bedroom, often with a bathroom. It’s a relatively easy way to increase living space and avoid some of the zoning restrictions associated with adding more square footage to a home. Before beginning an attic remodel project, homeowners must first ensure that local building codes allow it, that the house’s support structures are strong enough, and that existing electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems won’t be affected. In general, converting an attic to a bedroom is a good investment, yielding a modest return when the house is sold. According to the National Association of Realtors, an attic bedroom conversion that includes a small bath has a national median cost of $65,000 and retains 61 percent of its value when the home is sold.

Nevertheless, an attic renovation represents a significant outlay of money, so homeowners should consider the cost factors carefully: contractors, inspection and license fees, and materials.

Building codes

Before building, homeowners should make sure their existing attic space is tall enough to meet ceiling codes, which are usually about eight feet. The space should also have room to add a staircase and windows to the outside. A structural engineer can help determine whether the attic floor joists can support the additional weight of a remodeled space and find out if the rafters can hold drywall, lighting, electrical work, plumbing, and HVAC system parts. This consultation usually costs around $100 an hour.

Scope of work

Remodelling an attic requires hiring a bevy of people, including a general contractor, electrician, plumber and HVAC specialist. General contractors, such as 3D Remodeling in Apex, North Carolina, or American Home and Hardscape in Burtonsville, Maryland, typically design the new room and oversee the entire project. Some general contractors might do tasks such as hanging drywall and others might subcontract this task out.

Electricians, such as KJ’s Custom Electric in El Sobrante, California, or Allegiant Electrical in Longmont, Colorado, typically charge $40–$100 an hour to run new wires, add new outlets and possibly install new lighting, such as overhead recessed lighting for about $80 per light. The total electrical cost for an attic remodel is usually $1,300–$3,000.

Plumbers, such as A.C.E Plumbing in San Diego or Absolute Renovations in Lake Oswego, Oregon, charge $50–$200 to install new pipes and drains for the bathroom as well as a sink, toilet and possibly a shower or bathtub. Not including the fixtures, plumbing costs for an attic renovation tend to be $1,000–$1,500.

The new room must also be attached to the existing HVAC system for heating and cooling. HVAC companies, such as Comfortech Heating and Air in Minneapolis or First Choice Heating and Air in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can charge $40–$250 an hour, depending on the work that needs to be done.

Finishing a room

Transforming a dusty attic into comfortable living space requires contractors to build walls, hang drywall, lay a floor and install a ceiling. Installing walls costs about $1,900 and a ceiling costs about $1,500. Drywall for an attic costs about $1,600 and professional painting runs another $1,600. Hardwood floors cost about $4,000 while carpeting costs less than $1,500. Tile or laminate for the new bathroom floor costs $1,000–$2,000, depending on the size of the floor. Most attic rooms also include basic baseboards, which start at $1,000 to install.

Adding a staircase

One of trickiest parts of an attic remodel is adding the staircase—codes don’t allow simple ladders to a new upstairs bedroom. Straight-run staircases are the least expensive to build, but they require about 40 square feet. Depending on the finishing touches, such as fancy hardware, a straight-run staircase can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 to construct. Kits for compact spiral staircases typically cost $2,000–$6,000 and installation for those costs $600–$1,200. A carpenter, such as Conn’s Carpentry Service in Redwood City, California, can design and build the right staircase for the project.

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