Home Renovation 4 MIN READ

Average Cost To Finish An Attic

Remodeled attic with exposed beams and hardwood floors Written by Adam Berns

Key takeaways: 

  • Attic prices range from a few thousand dollars to a hundred thousand dollars, depending on your room specifications.
  • The average attic cost ranges from $40,000 to $50,000. 
  • Attics have some of the highest ROI of any remodeling project.  

Average Cost To Finish An Attic

When you’re working with finite space in a home, sometimes you have to build upwards. And for many homeowners, an attic can add significant square footage to their house. 

If you’re willing to invest the money, attic space can be more than a simple storage room. For the right price, you can transform it into a functional space, which adds considerable value to the home.

Here’s what an attic project may cost you, on average. 

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Finished Attic Costs 

Young couple reviewing their finances

Finishing an attic will likely be more expensive than a ground-floor project like a kitchen remodel. One reason for this is that there are structural and architectural concerns that must be accounted for. As a result, you’ll probably also need to hire an architect to help consult on the process, which can add thousands of dollars to the total costs depending on their hourly wage. 

Per the 2019 Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors, a homeowner can expect to pay an average of $40,000 – $50,000 to finish their attic. Likewise, according to the Remodeling Calculator, “In terms of cost per square foot, you can expect to pay $192 per sq. ft. (materials and labor) to finish an attic and convert it into a liveable space.”

Although attic remodeling may be one of the most expensive home improvement projects, it also has one of the highest ROIs. The same Remodeling Impact Report estimated that you might recoup up to 62% of your investment on an attic remodel. 

How to Finish an Attic: The Bones 

Man working in attic with insulation

Simply constructing the foundations of an attic can be costly. That said, your plans for space will dictate those costs. Naturally, a master suite with a bathroom will be pricier than an office space. 

Common construction costs include:

  • Insulation – Proper attic insulation doesn’t just impact the attic staying warm and dry. It can affect the entire house. Typically, an insulation cost can add up to thousands of dollars, depending on the materials used and the space’s square footage.
  • HVAC – Having a heating and cooling system is necessary for most homes in the country, and the attic is often the ideal space for an HVAC system. The cost of one could range from hundreds to thousands depending on your heating and cooling needs. 
  • Plumbing – If you plan to add a bathroom or a sink to this liveable space, that will cost more since you’ll likely have to run pipes up to the top floor. Even if you can build atop existing plumbing, ensuring the job is done correctly will cost you. 
  • Electrical – If you’re building out a new space, odds are it doesn’t yet have electrical installed. If not, you’ll need electrical wiring to run wires, add outlets, and install electronic fixtures. 
  • Ceilings – To be considered a “livable space,” IRC building codes require rooms with sloped ceilings to have at least 50% of the square footage with ceilings that are 7ft or more. If your ceilings are not high enough, raising them to proper standards could potentially add tens of thousands of dollars worth of costs to the total project.    
  • Access – If you want to list the new attic as a room, building codes require the space to have easy access. A ladder won’t do. Instead, you must build a staircase that’s safe for daily use. 

How to Finish an Attic: The Interior 

Once the foundations are laid, you’re halfway there. Next up is the attic’s interior. This includes: 

  • Flooring – One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what material to use for the attic floor. Whether it’s carpet, hardwood, laminate, or waterproof tiles, depending on the materials used, prices can range from $3,000 – $16,000. 
  • Drywall – If the attic doesn’t already have drywall, you’ll need drywall installation before erecting the walls. This can vary from $2,800 – $8,000.3 
  • Ceilings – After you’ve installed the drywall and insulation, you can add the interior ceiling. A carpenter will typically charge between $900 – $2,400 to perform this service.3
  • Windows – Similar to the access point, building codes stipulate that an attic has two points of egress. Adding egress windows can be costly due to the architectural constraints, ranging from $1,000 – $8,600.3 

How to Finish an Attic: Furnishing the Space  

After everything has been built, there are still additional costs you must consider. There are a variety of furnishings you’ll have to calculate into the total equation, including: 

  • A bathroom (if you have one) will require fixtures like sinks, bathtubs, or toilets.
  • A bedroom will require a bed frame, mattress, closet, or other room furnishings that make a bedroom feel inviting and livable.
  • An office will require a desk, lighting, and proper wiring infrastructure. 
  • A living room will require a couch, tables, rugs to make the space feel cozy.  

Again, costs will depend on your preferences and the square footage, but it’s smart to leave approximately $4,500 in your budget to furnish the space. 

Building Up 

Even though it may cost a sizable amount of money, an attic can be a worthwhile investment, especially if you convert it into a bedroom, bathroom, or office space. In doing so, this once-absent space can be used to collect extra rent, or simply free up other space in your home. What’s certain is that an attic installation will certainly increase the value of the house.

Should you plan to do a full renovation, you can expect the average cost to finish an attic to be around $50,000. 

By budgeting and planning ahead, you can ensure that space is everything you dreamed it would be. 

Sources:
National Association of Realtors. 2019 Remodeling Impact Report. https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-remodeling-impact-10-03-2019.pdfIRC. 2015 IRC Sections R303 through R310. https://shop.iccsafe.org/media/wysiwyg/material/4117S15-Sample.pdf.Home Advisor. Cost Attics. https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/attics/#live


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