How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic?

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Updated May 2, 2022
fully furnished attic living room
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

The typical cost to finish an attic is $4,600 to $16,400, with an average cost of $10,500

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Attic renovation costs vary depending on what jobs the finishing involves, but typically costs between $30 and $60 per square foot for standard tasks including drywalling, adding insulation, and installing a fan. If the attic needs extensive work to turn it into a living space (think dream craft room or a clubhouse for your kiddos), expect to pay up to $200 per square foot.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Square Foot?

Finishing an attic generally costs between $30 and $60 per square foot, including labor and materials. This gives you an average overall cost of $4,000 to $16,000. Of course, the cost depends on how big your attic is and what type of finishing is required. If you're doing more than just basic refinishing, you can pay as much as $200 per square foot.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Task?

Attic remodeling costs vary based on what tasks are required to finish your space. First things first, address necessary cleanup before renovating, especially if your attic has experienced any damage. Cleanup and repair after pests can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000, while water damage repairs average between $3.75 and $7 per square foot if you’ve had a leak in your roof or extensive moisture problems. Finally, if you want to remove existing insulation before having new insulation installed, plan to spend $1 to $1.50 per square foot for removal.

If all you need to do is add drywall, costs will only be around $1,000 to $2,600 for an average-size attic, even with professional installation from local pros. But if the floor joists are pretty ancient and not strong enough to cope with the swanky new living space you're creating, you can pay up to $10,000 for replacement. 

Basic attic finishing jobs include:

  • Drywalling: $1,000–$2,600

  • Insulation: $1,700–$2,100

  • Subflooring: $500–$800

  • Floor joists: $1,000–$10,000

  • Fan installation: $400–$900

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic Yourself?

Finishing an attic yourself can cost as little as $300—if all you're doing is installing a new fan. But if you're turning a dingy old attic into a beautiful, tranquil, kid-free primary suite, even if you have the skill you can still pay up to $50,000 for materials. 

Plus, it'll take you much longer to DIY compared to hiring a pro. And if you don't do the job right, you'll have to hire a contractor to come and sort it out anyway, which will cost you more than if you'd just hired the pro to begin with. Not to mention the wasted time!

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic by Type?

There are different types of attic spaces, suited for different purposes. A simple storage space costs less to finish than a bedroom or bathroom attic conversion.

Cost of Finishing a Walk-Up Attic

Finishing a walk-up attic costs between $8,100 and $26,000 and usually involves installing a staircase and flooring. Adding a staircase costs $1,000 to $2,900 and installing wood flooring in a walk-up attic costs $2,500 to $6,800.

Finishing an Attic as a Storage Space

Finishing an attic to use as a storage space can cost as little as $4,600 for a basic setup in a small attic. Larger attics and more elaborate storage spaces can cost up to $18,900. Adding simple closet organizers, which are popular and practical for smaller spaces, costs between $900 and $2,500

Cost to Finish an Attic With a Dormer

If you're turning your attic into a bedroom, you'll need to have an egress window that measures at least 5.7 square feet to meet basic building regulations. The most common choice for an attic is a dormer window. Adding this type of window, plus finishing the attic, will set you back between $4,600 and $16,400

Cost to Finish an Attic Above a Garage

The cost to finish an attic above a garage varies significantly based on whether you need to install heating, ventilation, and insulation. Prices range from $4,600 to $24,000.

Finished attic apartment with rooftop deck
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

What Factors Influence the Cost of Finishing an Attic?

Plan your budget carefully by considering basic finishing costs, size and configuration, the purpose of the space, whether you need to add heating, cooling, plumbing, electrics, and more. 

Size and Configuration

Unsurprisingly, the bigger the attic, the more you'll pay to finish it. Similarly, if it's oddly shaped or difficult to access, the price will increase. 

The amount of usable space, which determines cost, depends on the following factors:

  • Number and types of trusses

  • The joists and the roof pitch

  • The number of windows in the attic

  • The method of heating

  • Safe installation of stairs

Purpose

How you’re reimagining your attic space has a huge impact on the remodeling price. A simple finish for extra storage costs as little as $4,600, while a conversion to a primary suite can cost up to $80,000.

  • Office: $10,000–$40,000, including materials and labor

  • Primary suite: $27,000–$80,000, including materials and labor for a bedroom, closet, and bathroom

  • Bedroom: $8,000–$30,000, including materials and labor

  • Bathroom: $9,600–$52,000, including installing the bathroom suite and finishing

  • Storage space: $4,600–$18,900 including materials, labor, and the closet organizer installation.

Heating and Cooling

Heat rises, so an attic can quickly become toasty—even breaking 100 degrees Fahrenheit in some climates!  Even if the attic is a storage space rather than a living space, high temperatures can melt plastics and ruin photos, old vinyls, and more. 

In the winter, if the attic isn't sufficiently insulated, it can get uncomfortably cold, which will not only make any attic occupant head for the home’s lower levels but can also damage any belongings you've got stored. The cost of adding heating or cooling is between $2,100 and $4,000

Attic insulation costs, on average, between $350 and $1,750 for 1,000 square feet. The cost varies based on type of insulation.

  • Blown-in insulation: $1,000–$2,100

  • Spray foam insulation: $1,300–$3,700

  • Batt and roll Insulation: $1,032–$2,400

  • Radiant barrier installation: $800–$2,900

You may also need to install an attic fan, which costs $400 to $900. And, if you need to add HVAC ductwork and vents to connect the attic to your home's AC and central heating systems, expect to pay up to $1,000.

Windows

If you're converting the attic into a living space, you'll need to add windows to let in natural light and make it feel more like a vibrant, welcoming loft, rather than a dark cave. Plus, if you're putting a bedroom up there, you're legally required to have an egress window measuring at least 5.7 square feet. 

The cost to install an egress window is $2,500 to $5,100. To capture more natural light you can also add a skylight, which will set you back $1,000 to $2,400

Electricity

Unless you’re envisioning the most rudimentary of storage spaces, your attic needs electricity. You can expect to pay $1,000 to $3,400 for new attic electrics. The price includes:

  • Installing electrical wiring: $600–$2,200

  • Installing electrical outlets: $150–$300

  • Installing lightning features: $200–$850 per fixture

Plumbing

If you’re looking to add a bathroom as part of your attic conversion, this project runs from $8,000 to $35,000, and plumbing is one of the biggest cost factors. Adding plumbing as part of this project costs between $1,000 to $10,000

Hiring a Structural Engineer

people discussing attic renovation project
Photo: Kelvin Murray/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images

For extensive work on your attic, it's probably a good idea to hire a local structural engineer to make sure your home can cope with the added load. For example, if you're planning to put a primary suite in that space, all of the materials you're adding weigh a huge amount. 

It’s important to make sure your home can bear the extra weight—and that you won’t have a queen-sized bed come crashing into your kitchen anytime soon. The cost to hire a structural engineer is $400 to $800

Cost to Raise the Roof 

If you really need the extra living space but there just isn't enough height in the attic, you may need to raise the roof (literally) as part of your project. This adds significant value to your home but is a costly undertaking. Instead, you may want to consider adding a dormer. Raising the roof will cost $60 to $100 per square foot and the average price per project is $15,000 to $125,000. This includes:

  • Planning, including permits

  • Existing material removal

  • Electrical work and plumbing

  • Exterior remodeling

  • Labor and material costs

FAQs About Finishing an Attic

Can I convert my attic into a living space?

Yes—you can convert your attic into your teen's new bedroom as long as your home is structurally sound enough to bear the additional load. 

You'll also need to make sure the space is 7 feet tall, which you can potentially achieve by installing a dormer or raising the roof. You'll need 70 square feet of floor space. And remember, before you start this project, you'll have to get a building permit.

Is it cheaper to finish the attic or the basement?

The cost to finish a basement is $30 to $75 per square foot, while attic renovation costs $30 to $60 per square foot. However, if you're doing a major conversion, the attic can cost up to $80,000 while a similar project in the basement costs $18,500. So if your son is moving back home after college, put him in the basement!

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