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Attic Remodeling Costs: What They DON’T Want You to Know About

Attic Remodeling Costs
An attic remodel can gain your home a lot of added space. If you want to grab hold of this space, you will need to prepare yourself for the costs involved. The truth behind your attic remodeling costs is that it will include items like reinforcing your current attic structurally, to finishing it out into living space.

The cost to remodel your attic will greatly depend on how luxurious you want to make the room. A simple attic remodel project with nice carpet and painted walls will be much more inexpensive than one with high end carpet, expensive wallpaper, and gilded finishes. There are some numbers that will help you decide if you can find enough money to pursue your project though.

When considering if you want to tackle an attic remodel project, you need to have an idea of the amount it might cost. The national median for attic remodeling costs is around $60,000. As non-math majors may forget, a median is the middle ground. It indicates that there are as many reported costs above that amount, as there are below. So it is a good average sort of number to consider as you begin your planning process.

The other number to keep in mind as you decide is how well it will add value to your home. Reports indicate you should be able to keep about 60% of money you put into your remodel when you apply it to your home’s value when it is completed. Again, for the non-math wizards among us, for an attic project that you put $60,000 it should increase the value of your home overall by $36,000.

Structural Costs

  • Wall Construction ($50/ft): A 10’x10’ wall section costs around $500. This includes framing and drywall. It does not include paint or wallpaper costs. To finish your wall you will need to consider which is the best option.
    • Painting your wall adds about $100 per wall (including labor, $50 if you do it yourself).
    • Average quality wallpaper will cost around $50/roll, and to have it hung will cost an additional $40/roll for a professional.
  • Floors ($300/linear ft): The floor of your attic may, or may not, have been built to support the weight of a finished room. If your attic flooring is not made to support the weight you will need to add supports. This is done usually in a method called “sistering” where another 2×4 or wider piece of lumber is nailed to the existing supports. This will cost between $100 and $300 per joist, depending on board width and accessibility.
  • Ceiling ($4/sq ft): The ceiling for your new living space is another cost that you must consider. To finish off the ceiling you can expect to pay around $4 a square foot. Additional costs will arise if you do any sort of tray ceiling.

Space Gainers

  • Access ($2000): Most attics are not accessed by permanent stairs that are up to code. Access into the new attic space will likely need to be installed. A set of prebuilt straight stairs is the cheapest option. This cost does not include renovations to the room where you will put the stairs in from. These costs vary depending on how much work must be done.
  • Dormer ($5000+): A dormer creates space usable space in your attic. By flattening out the pitch of your roof it gives it a consistent height that may be necessary to comply with codes. The cost of your dormer depends largely on your roof and the exterior of your home. This price includes the structural work. Add more to match your interior and exterior finishes.


  • Skylights ($900/light): Skylights are an excellent way to increase the amount of natural light into your new attic remodel. Since the skylights do not need extensive structural work to get to a lower floor they are cheapest to put into an attic space. A fixed skylight will be the cheapest at around $900 to install. This cost can increase as you choose models that open, either manually or automatically depending on light and moisture. A high end skylight can cost $1300 for the skylight alone.
  • Windows ($500/window): Each window you put into the attic, including those in a dormer, will cost around $500 installed. This cost is for a standard sized, double paned and insulated window. If you decide to use specialty windows, bay sized windows, or other options this cost can quickly become much higher.

Finishing Costs

  • Trim ($7/ft): Bare walls do not make for a finished looking room. Your walls will need baseboards and trim to truly look good. Standard non-ornamental trim work should run between $5.25 and $8.57. Higher end trim and molding will be more expensive.
  • Cabinetry ($300): Almost all attic remodels have near unusable space where the angle of the roof makes the area too short to do much with. Knee wall cabinets are great additions for this type of area. By turning this unusable space into storage you increase the square feet you can devote to living space. Installing cabinets in this space will cost about $300 for a 12’x12’ room. This cost can be much higher depending on cabinet quality and the hardware that you pick.

Heating and Air

  • Heating/Air Conditioning ($1300+): Of all the rooms in your home, an attic bedroom or living space is going to be the most in need of good heating and air conditioning. Even with properly installed, energy efficient insulation your attic space will always be hotter or colder than the rest of your home. This will require that you tie your attic into your heating and air conditioning system. This can often be done cheaply before you put your subflooring in. Occasionally it will be necessary to remove some drywall in a room below. If you need to do this, it will increase the costs. The price to tie in your existing heating and air conditioning may be around $1000.
    • New System ($5000): When adding new spaces to your existing setup you have to ensure it is capable of supporting them. If your existing system is sized to be able to just barely heat and cool your home as it is, adding more square feet will make the system incapable of doing the job properly.
    • Separate Control ($300): Even if your system is capable of handling the additional square feet for your attic remodel, a separate control is a good idea. Installing a thermostat that controls the temperature of your attic separately from the rest of your home makes it possible to keep your air conditioner from overworking itself.
  • Insulation ($.75/Sq Ft): The importance of insulation in your attic remodel is hard to make clear enough. Without proper insulation no heating or air conditioning system will be able to make this space livable. For your attic space the best option is spray foam insulation. The pitch of the roof can make batten insulation fall away from the roof and become much less effective. Spray foam insulation fills the cavity and won’t fall away from the roof itself. The cost for spray foam insulation will cost approximately $1.00 per board foot.

Flooring and Plumbing

  • Flooring ($850): The structural cost to get your floor up to code doesn’t include any sort of floor covering beyond bare plywood. This means you have to budget for some sort of flooring. The cost of this varies widely depending on what bedroom flooring options you choose. Putting in a sheet vinyl floor will be much less expensive than high end rare wood flooring. There are a lot of bedroom flooring options that you have to choose from. Your choices in a bedroom normally fall into either carpeting or hardwood flooring though.
    • Carpet: The main benefit of carpet is in the softness that it provides, and the insulation that it provides to your room. Carpet that is in the average price ranger will cost around $300/square yard. For a 12’x12’ room this can cost in the neighborhood of $450.
    • Hardwood: Most buyers in today’s market are looking for hardwood flooring. Just like there are many different options for bedroom floors, there are also many different hardwood flooring options. Average quality solid hardwood flooring
  • Plumbing ($6000): Making your attic into a true master suite will mean adding in a bathroom. You can try to reduce this cost by placing your bathroom over an existing bathroom below. This allows you to tie into the vent stack and plumbing with less cost. A simple bathroom may cost upwards of $6000 depending on the size of bathroom you decide to create. Something else to consider is weight, while you may want a marble tub and marble flooring the costs involved to increase the weight bearing capabilities may be extravagant.