The national average cost for home remodelers to renovate an attic ranges from $15,000 to $85,000. While converting an attic into a living space can carry a hefty up-front price tag, the remodeling costs could end up being an investment that increases your home value.
According to the National Association of Realtors, converting attic space into a bedroom 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.
Before you hire a pro to bring your lofty loft ideas to life and convert your attic into a bright and beautiful living space, get a breakdown of what an attic or loft conversion would cost.
What's in this cost guide?
- Average cost of finishing an attic
- What impacts the cost of renovating an attic?
- Building code requirements
- Cost-saving tips
- Why renovate an attic?
- How to hire a contractor
- Find an attic contractor near you
Cost to finish an attic
To convert your attic space, you can hire an attic and loft conversions company who specialize in attic and loft conversions. You could also hire a general contractor to oversee the project. If you want to save money by doing some steps yourself, you could decide to tackle the renovation piece-meal, acting as your own general contractor and hiring specialists as needed.
A home remodeler or general contractor should provide a cost estimate for the entire project and break it down by each step. If you decide to oversee the project yourself, an attic renovation will require several specialists or subcontractors to finish the space.
Below is a breakdown of what's included in an attic remodel, and what professional to hire if you need help with that step.
Average cost of finishing an attic:
|Attic renovation step||National average cost||Specialist||National average labor cost|
|Clean the attic||$100 - $160||Cleaner||See project rate|
|Add insulation||$800 - $3,500||Insulation professional||See project rate|
|Add floor and subfloor||$1,000 - $4,000||Flooring installer||See project rate|
|Install drywalls||$375 - $1,500||Drywall specialist||$30 - $60 per panel|
|Install walls||$1,900||Carpenter||See project rate|
|Install ceiling||$1,500||Carpenter||See project rate|
|Add lighting and outlets||$130 - $150||Electrician||$45 - $120 per hour|
|Paint the interior||$200-$2,700||Interior painter||See project rate|
|Window installation||$500||Window installer||$135 - $250 per window|
|HVAC services (optional)||$40 - $250 (installation)||HVAC contractor||$50 - $120 per hour|
|Plumbing (optional)||$1,000 - $1,500||Plumber||$50 - $200 per hour|
Before renovation, you'll need to clear out your attic. You'll need to remove your stuff, clean any water damage, damage from rodent or pest problems, and possibly remove insulation.
You can do this yourself or hire a professional cleaning and insulation service to give your attic the clean slate it needs. The average cost of a professional attic cleaning ranges from $110 to $160.
You will need to install new insulation to make the space habitable. To add attic insulation, expect installation to cost between $800 - $3,500, including materials and labor for a professional to add it.
Many homeowners use spray foam insulation in their attics, since it's easy to use in new construction with open and unfinished walls and attic spaces. Expect to pay between $3 to $5 per square foot on average nationwide to have spray foam injected into an existing home.
Not only is proper insulation a key step to finishing your remodel, it can also help decrease your overall heating and air conditioning costs.
Many attics don't have finished floors you would want in a normal living space. You will need to install the new floors, and possibly subfloors as well. The cost of adding flooring and subfloors varies based on material.
Installing windows and skylights vary a lot in cost, but the average price to install a new window is $500. Adding a dormer window (a roof window that projects slightly from a sloping roof) or skylight can bring natural light into the space. Dormers can also add some much-needed height and change the character of the room, taking away the typical narrow A-line look of most attics.
If your attic doesn't yet have it, you will need walls and dry walls. Drywall installation costs are, on average, between $375 to $1,500 for materials and professional installation — roughly $30 and $60 per panel. If you're installing it on the ceiling too, double that amount.
You will need a carpenter to install walls, which costs about $1,900. For an attic ceiling, that will cost about $1,500. Most attic rooms also need to have basic baseboards added, which start at $1,000 to install.
To complete your conversion of dark, dusty attic to bright, lounge-worthy loft, you'll need lights. Any electrical wiring, which includes new outlets and lights, will add to your costs. Lighting installation costs are $130 to $150, on average.
Electricians typically charge between $45 to $120 an hour to run new wires, add new outlets and possibly install lighting and a ceiling fan. The total electrical cost for an attic remodel ranges between $1,300 and $3,000.
The walls are up. The floors are finished. The windows are in. Once the heavy renovations have wrapped up, it's time to put the finishing touches on by painting the walls. You could either DIY this step or hire a professional to paint your walls. The cost to hire an interior painter ranges from $200 to $2,700, on average nationally.
The new room may need to be attached to the existing HVAC system for heating and cooling. HVAC contractors charge on average between $50 to $120 an hour, depending on the work that needs to be done.
If you're adding a bathroom, expect to pay an electrician on average between $50 and $200 an hour 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 range from $1,000 to $1,500.
Attic renovations require homeowners to finish an otherwise unfinished space, and is not the same as remodeling other rooms in your house. The total cost of an attic renovation includes the labor cost of contractors, inspection fees, license fees and materials.
An attic or loft conversion represents a significant outlay of money, so homeowners should consider the cost factors carefully. Below are a couple of factors that will impact your attic conversion costs:
The size of your attic space will affect the cost of materials and labor. Larger attics will need more materials and time to turn it into a new space.
Depending on the current state of your attic, you may have to add additional projects and costs to meet code requirements. For example, if you need to swap your old drop ladder for a set of real stairs, a new staircase could cost you as much as an additional $10,000 for a professional to install them.
To increase functionality, you may need or want to expand your attic up or out. Even if your existing ceiling meets height requirements, you may want to change the pitch of your roof to provide extra headroom.
If you want more space, expanding over an adjacent garage or room below can be a good option. Structural changes like these can increase your attic remodeling costs substantially.
Converting an attic may seem simple — flooring, drywall, lighting, and voila, you've got a livable space. But an attic or loft conversion must meet certain code requirements. Local requirements vary and can be highly detailed, but in general they affect the following.
To be considered a habitable room, it must contain at least 70 square feet of usable space. That's at least 7 feet in any direction.
Finished attics require easy access. You'll have to get rid of the drop-down stairs and install a new fixed staircase. Most codes require stairways be 36 inches wide or wider. Some local code may put restrictions on winding or spiral staircases.
If you're converting your attic into a bedroom, most codes require a second means of egress in an emergency, such as installing a full-size window. Building codes require fixed and operable windows meet or exceed 8 percent of the usable floor space, and that 4 percent of the square footage be windows that open to the outside.
Unlike other rooms in your house, your attic wasn't necessarily built for you to stand up comfortably in. Most codes stipulate at least 50 percent of the usable finished space have ceilings at least 7 feet in head height.
The floor joists must be stiff enough and strong enough to handle the weight of the finished space and foot traffic. Your floor should be able to hold a load of 30 pounds per square foot. This isn't an easy DIY calculation, so you'll need to talk to a pro. Your local building inspector has the final say, so check with them first.
Roof structure and security are another concern. Roof rafters may need reinforcement to accommodate the weight of holding the finished ceiling, lighting, electrical work, plumbing and HVAC system parts (if you have heating and air conditioning in your house).
Your home's existing heating and air conditioning system needs to be capable of maintaining a steady attic temperature of 68 degrees. Even with insulated walls and ceiling, you may need to run HVAC ductwork into the attic space.
A structural engineer can help determine what your existing attic space will need to make a renovation possible. Expect to pay around $100 an hour for this consultation. To say money upfront, you can also check code requirements with a local building official before you start. If you need additional HVAC work done to complete your remodel, here are a few cost estimates:
If the overall renovation costs feel like a bit of a sticker shock, use some of these tips to save money on your attic conversion or renovation:
Do some of the work yourself, like cleaning, prep work, or interior painting to cut down on conversion costs. Flooring is another area that offers cost-saving DIY materials, such as carpet tiles and easy to install laminate flooring.
Look for ways to save on materials. For example, laminate flooring is less expensive than high quality wood floors.
Talk to your contractor. Talk to your contractor about your budget so they can help you choose materials and features that you can afford.
Renovating an attic is typically a cost effective way to add square footage and additional living space to a home. For many homeowners, the remodeling cost is less than what a new home addition would be, making it a great way to get a bonus room.
After all, if you have the roof space, an attic can be more than a dusty space for childhood toys and Christmas ornament storage. Many homeowners will convert their attic into a children's playroom, dedicated office space, combination living and storage space, workout or art studio, or an attic bedroom suite. Finishing your attic space could even be an opportunity to open up a wall and turn it into a trendy loft space.
How to hire a contractor
Finding the right contractor to finish your attic takes a bit of work — but it's an essential step of the process. Take the time to find a contractor who has a good reputation, the necessary skills to complete the project and fair pricing. Here's how:
- Search online for contractors near you. Look for attic contractors in your area, and start reading their reviews and ratings. You might find photos of the contractors' past work on their profiles, which can give you an idea of what you should have done to your attic.
- Check their credentials. You should only hire a contractor who has the appropriate credentials for your attic renovation. Many states require that a contractor's license, and there might be license requirements for any professionals who conduct electrical, plumbing or HVAC work.
- Ask for free estimates from several pros. As you're comparing contractors online, reach out to them for estimates. You'll need to give them information about your project in order to get an accurate price.
- Get everything in writing. Before you hire a contractor, make sure there's a written contract. The contract should include details about the price, materials, timeline and more.
Visit the Thumbtack Smart Hiring guide for more helpful tips on how to hire a pro safely.