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The Big Truth Behind Small Attic Remodel Costs

Small Attic Remodel Costs
A small attic doesn’t have to remain an empty, unused area of your home. Even a small attic space can be remodeled into a cozy bedroom or a useful guest bedroom. But how much does it cost to remodel a small attic? The cost of remodeling a small attic is not an exact science, each home is built to different standards and have a different layout. While we would love to be able to tell you that you will spend a specific amount it is not that simple. The answer to the question of “How much does it cost to remodel a small attic?” depends largely on the decisions that you make regarding materials and quality.

The small attic remodel that you wish to pursue can be expected to cost in the ballpark of $40,000, much less expensive than a luxury remodel with an included bathroom. This project will add value to your home as well. On average you will retain around 60% of the value of your remodeling budget. This means for an average remodel of $40,000 you will be able to increase the value of your home by $24,000. This is not

  • Walls: Unless you are going for an open concept or loft idea, you will need walls. Each 100 square feet of wall (a 10’x10’ wall section) is going to cost around $500 to construct. If it is difficult to determine costs by this method you can measure out linear feet. To get an estimate measure out how many linear feet of wall you want in your attic remodel and expect to pay around $50.00 per foot.
  • Floors: Most attic floors are not made to support the weights involved with an actual room. The floor joists are thinner and not intended to support walls and furniture. This requires you to increase the amount of weight that they can support. To accomplish this you will usually “sister” the existing joists with new boards to make them capable of holding your new room up. This will cost between $100 and $300 per joist that must be reinforced. For every 12 feet of attic space you can expect 9 joists to be involved, making a total between $900 to $2700.
  • Stairs: If your attic wasn’t intended to be living space it likely is accessed through a pull down stair. Few attics are made with a set of stairs that are up to code. This means adding a set of stairs into your budget. Even a small attic will need proper access. Adding in a set of prebuilt, straight stairs will cost approximately $2000. This includes material and labor.
  • Ceiling: Your attic ceiling will require drywall to be useful as a living space. To put drywall in place this will cost you between $3.40 and $4.35 per square foot. This price includes labor and material.
  • Trim: Finishing off your walls requires baseboards and trim. Baseboard and non-ornamental trim work costs in a range from $5.25 through $8.57.
  • Flooring: The cost to do the flooring in your attic will be largely determined by the quality you wish to buy. Purchasing low end materials will make this price low, high end carpet or rare wood floors will push the cost up much higher.
    • Carpet: The cost for average range carpeting will be approximately between $20 and $40 a square yard. This will equate to around $300 to $600 for a 12×12 room.
    • Hardwood: Costing between $10 and $14 a square foot hardwood is a more expensive option. For a 12’x12’ room this will cost upwards of $1400 to install.
  • Cabinetry: Knee wall cabinets are an almost necessary addition to a small attic project. They free up valuable floor space by moving your storage to normally unusable areas. Cabinetry should cost you around $300 or more depending on quality.
  • Dormer: To gain the necessary space in a small attic will likely require a dormer. A dormer large enough to give you enough room can easily run from $5000 to $20,000. This price includes the necessary window, but does not include the cost of insulation and drywall.
  • Heating/AC: Your attic must have both heating and air conditioning to be a space you can spend any amount of time in. Even with insulation your space won’t be comfortable without it. Extending ductwork up to your new attic space costs up to $1000. A new thermostat is often a good idea and allows for separate control for your attic. Add $300 to install a thermostat in the attic.
    • The other cost to consider is that when you add a whole new space to your existing setup is if your existing system is capable of supporting it. If your new addition will require you to upgrade your system this is another $5000 to include in your budget.
  • Plumbing: Adding a bathroom to your small attic remodel is not the wisest option most of the time. When you are dealing with a small area it is often not large enough to be made into separate rooms. Adding a simple bathroom can cost up to $6000, depending on materials. The more extravagant your bathroom is the higher the cost will be.
  • Skylights: A fixed skylight will allow much needed natural light into your attic. For a small attic remodel this is even more important. Natural light helps a small area seem larger. Putting a skylight into place averages $900.
  • Windows: Your attic will need windows. To put one in place averages $500 for a standard, double paned insulated window. Ornate, larger size, or specialized windows will be significantly more expensive.
  • Insulation: Insulation is of paramount importance for your attic remodel. Without a good form of insulation your attic bedroom will be more like a bedroom sauna. With the angle of the roof making some types of insulation less effective spray foam should be considered. While much more expensive it will last longer and be more effective. Batt insulation can fall away from the inner surface and become ineffective. Spray foam insulation will cost approximately $.70 to $1 per board foot.

There are some special considerations when you are remodeling a small attic. This type of project comes with benefits and drawbacks that are not the same as a full sized room remodel. A small attic remodel can allow you to use higher quality materials that would be too costly in a large room. However, being a smaller space you have to sometimes sacrifice what you want in a room, for what you have space for.