Assessing the Accessibility of an Unfinished Attic

If space is less accessible, the contractors will charge you higher rates as it will likely take them more man hours to complete the job. Most attic lack pipes, ducts, and wiring hence you may have to install them so that you can achieve a fully functional space.

Attic space used to install a HVAC system

Fully utilizing the attic space with an air conditioner

Heating and Cooling

You should have an HVAC specialist analyze your space for you to know whether you need any addition. In most cases, the existing forced air blower can be sufficient. If it is not enough, you can opt to install a window air conditioner. It costs about $300. An electric baseboard heater can cost $150 to $200. You can as well choose to install more ducts and vents to boost the HVAC system.


Homeowners should hire fully licensed and insured electrician for the services. The average cost is about $50 to $75 per hour. The electrician will assess the electrical home panel to know whether it can handle the increased load to your attic. He can install a new attic or run wires to the attic (average cost $1,500 to $3,000).


If you opt to convert the attic into a master bedroom or family room, then you need plumbing. You can locate the bathroom close to pipes carrying water to the septic tank so that you can save on cost. A professional plumber can cost $150 to $450. Installing plumbing fixtures costs an average of $1,000.


Turning Attics into Livable Space

After you have determined the actual space available in the attic and the structural requirements, you will then have to determine the way you will utilize the space. Homeowners can convert or remodel the space available for the following uses:

Common Attic Conversions

  • Recreational rooms equipped with billiard tables and video games
  • TV or movie rooms which contain big-screen TVs and plenty of plush with comfortable seating
  • Guest or master bedrooms which have sunny windows, luxury bedding as well as attached bathrooms
  • Multipurpose workout spaces, library, and office spaces
Attic remodeled with bookshelves.

Aside from the slanted ceilings, would you have guessed this to be an attic?

How to Start Attic Remodeling / Converting

It does not matter the use of your space; you should start by installing ceilings, and walls then proceed to add flooring and lighting.

Walls and Ceilings

Ceilings and walls play a crucial role in transforming an unfinished attic to a livable space. To install walls, you can spend an average of $1,900 and installing ceilings can cost $1,300. To have the help of a professional you have several options such as the following:


With drywall, you have a smooth wall for the ceiling, which is easy to install and generally an off white color. . They also allow easy painting or wallpapering. The drywall can cost on average about $1,700.


Wallpapers are versatile due to a wide variety of patterns and textures available. It can cost $505 on average, but you will achieve great freedom in personalizing your walls. You should also note that for the last decade or so, wallpapers have been going out of style, and while they are functional, they may not be stylish.


It is available in a wide variety of shades. It is among the fastest and easiest ways to finish your attic. Professionals can cost about $1,669 on average.

Installing trim and crown molding

You can install trim out of basic baseboards or from ornate crown molding. Other sources include shiplap and beadboard which will provide a great finished look to your space. A professional can charge about $1,094 to $1,304 on trimming services.


If you have a bedroom below the attic, then you need soundproofing. Insulation can offer soundproofing apart from climate control. Choosing a plush carpet over a plywood subfloor can be the best option. It perfectly muffs footsteps and activity on your attic floor. Some of the popular flooring options include the following:

Ceramic or porcelain tile

It is an idea for the application in the kitchen or bathroom. The flooring material offers easy cleaning and has an average cost of about $1,500.


With hardwood, you enjoy warmth and elegance. It works well with contemporary as well as traditional décor with an average cost of $4,500.


It comes in a variety of materials and colors.Height ranges from flat to plush. It can cost $1,500 on average.


A pet-friendly laminate with water resistant feature will offer a traditional look with easy maintenance. The average cost is about $2,748.

Before you decide on flooring materials, you should take into consideration its cost per foot, use and its look as well as feel. When adding a bathroom to the attic, you should use tile or water safe materials. For a bedroom or game floor, you can consider wood or carpet.


To enhance the usability of the space, you should always choose the right light for your attic. You can opt for desk top lamps or even integrated overhead lighting if they work well. Homeowners can install a ceiling fan which costs about of $242 to enjoy both overhead air circulation and light. Other options you can consider include the following:

Recessed lighting

The lights are installed in the ceiling. They leave the lines of the roof intact while offering light. They cost about $50 to $200 per light.

Traditional ceiling-mounted lights

They offer a variety of styles which range from domes which sit flush to the ceiling with dramatic hanging chandeliers. They can cost about $100 to $200.

Wall lights

You can choose from traditional sconces to various modern wall lights. The fixtures allow users to develop targeted lighting which supplements the overhead lights. The average cost is about $100 to $250.


Attic Renovations and Conversions Introduction

Introduction to Attic Renovations

If you need extra living space but you are not ready for the hassles and the huge expense involved in having a room addition, and then you should opt for attic conversion. With attic conversion, it is easy to add a livable square footage in your home. It allows transformation of attic to storage space, a perfect master bedroom, playroom, guest room, media room or even office. Not all attics will do well in room addition; it is necessary to work in close collaboration with your structural engineer or an architect to know whether attic can support the added weight before you commence the project.

On average, attic renovations can cost about $40,000. But, the project cost can vary depending on several factors. Some of the factors include the square footage of unusable space, labor required to bring the space up to code and the material requirement.

Small hunting cabin with a bed in the attic after renovation

Finished attic in a hunting cabin, Northern Wisconsin

Attic Configuration & Size

Configuring your attic is complicated than other configurations in a home. The amount of space in your attic will depend on the type and number of trusses used in supporting the roof. Other factors include joist of the roof and pitch. A sloped roof can pose several challenges. Building codes dictate some strict minimums when it comes to the size of the building. Homeowners are required to follow “rule of 7s,”. It stipulates that the finished attic should have at least a total of 70 square feet with a minimum height and width requirements of about 7 feet. Other conditions dictate the number of windows, the method of heating as well as the safe installation of stairs. The larger the attic, the more you will spend due to material needed such as carpeting, drywall, and insulation.


It is required for at least 8% of the attics space floor to be glazed, and 4% should be an open area. For instance, if your attic opens for 100 square feet, the windows should be 8 square feet. 4 sq ft should allow the opening to the outside. For homeowners who have installed fewer than five windows, they report having spent about $1,900 on average.

Ceiling Height

For the attic to qualify for conversion, it should have at least 70 square feet of the floor space. The ceilings should have at least 5 feet high. At least half of unusable area should contain ceiling of at least 7 feet high. For an attic with 200 square feet of floor area which can be used and ceiling 5 feet high, at least 100 square feet of the space should contain ceiling of at least 7 feet high.

Some homeowners prefer to install dormers, which are windows that project out of the slope of the roof. Raising ceiling height is essential. On average, dormers can cost from $1,300 for DIY dormer installation. They can cost $2,000 to $18,000 for professional installation.

Tall attic with large slanted ceiling

Rustic attic with wooden beams



Building codes require homeowners to sustain a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in remodeled and converted attic. Rising heat and attic insulation can easily maintain the temperature. It can help you negate the need for the heating system upgrade. For home owners who invested in heating system upgrades, they spent an average of $1,000 to install ducts and vents. They also spent about $4,000 on a new furnace.


For building codes compliance, your attic should have stairs which can support at least 30 pounds per square foot. Joists should meet local requirements. You can consult your local structural engineer or architect to get the standards right. Homeowners admit spending an average of $50 to $150 per hour on structural advice concerning attic renovations.


If you are using the pull-down steps or hatchway to access the attic, then installing stairs can be a significant project. For you to comply with the codes, the stairway must span for at least 36 inches wide. It should as well have a maximum rise of 7.75 inches between threads. The threads must have at least a depth of 9.5 inches. The steps must have the clearance of about 80 inches. Installing steps leads to losing of several square feet in the attic and the area below. Professionals can charge you about $2,000 to $3,000 to install the stairs.