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.