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How much does an attic renovation cost?

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?

Why renovate an attic?

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.

What impacts the cost of renovating an attic?

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:

Total square footage of your attic

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.

Whether it currently meets code requirements

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.

Whether you need to make structural changes

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.

What building regulations do converted attics need to meet?

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.

Total square feet

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.

Staircase

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.

Fixed and operable windows

If you're converting your attic into a bedroom, most codes 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.

Ceiling height

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.

Flooring

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 rafters

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).

Extending heating and air conditioning

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:

What steps are included in an attic remodel?

To convert your attic space, there are attic and loft conversions companies 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:

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 $140 - $200 Electrician $40 - $100 per hour
Paint the interior $300 - $900 Interior painter See project rate
Window installation $2,650 Window installer $135 - $250 per window
HVAC installation (optional) $40 - $250 HVAC contractor $50 - $70 per hour
Plumbing (optional) $1,000 - $1,500 Plumber $50 - $200 per hour

Cleaning out the attic: $110 - $160

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.

Adding insulation: $800 - $3,500

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.

Adding flooring: $1,000 - $10,000

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.

Hardwood floors cost about $4,000 while carpeting costs less than $1,500. Tile or laminate for the new bathroom floor costs between $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the size of the floor.

Windows and skylights: $2,650

Installing windows and skylights vary a lot in cost, but the average price to install a new window is $2,650. 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.

Adding walls and drywall: $375 - $1,500

If your attic doesn't yet have it, you will need walls and dry walls. Drywall installation costs are, on average, between $375 - $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.

Adding lighting: $140 - $200

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 $140 - $200, on average.

Electricians typically charge between $40 to $100 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.

Painting the interior: $300 - $900

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 $300 - $900 on average nationally.

HVAC: $40 - $250

The new room may need to be attached to the existing HVAC system for heating and cooling. HVAC contractors charge on average between $40 to $250 an hour, depending on the work that needs to be done.

Plumbing: $1,000 - $1,500

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.

How can you save money on an attic renovation?

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.

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