Attic Cost Guides

If you crave extra living space but don't want to take on the hassle and expense that come with building a home addition, an attic conversion may be an attainable option. An attic conversion can add livable square footage to your home while transforming storage space into the perfect master bedroom, guest bedroom, playroom, media room or office. Of course, not every attic is a candidate for conversion; it’s important to consult with an architect or a structural engineer to confirm that your attic can support the added weight and stress before you start planning your project.

The average national cost for attic renovations is $49,438; however, project costs will vary depending on a number of factors. The square footage of usable space, the amount of work that needs to be done to bring the space up to code, and the materials used to bring the space to life will all contribute to the overall cost of your project.

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  • Install Blown-In Insulation Costs
    Most homeowners spent between:
    $875 - $1,897
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  • Install Batt, Rolled, or Reflective Insulation Costs
    Most homeowners spent between:
    $969 - $2,151
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    Low cost:
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  • Install an Attic Fan Costs
    Most homeowners spent between:
    $341 - $752
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Attic Configuration & Size

Configuring your attic renovation may prove to be more complicated than configuring improvements in other areas of your home. The amount of usable space in your attic is largely dependent on the number and type of trusses used to support the roof, the joists and the pitch of the roof, for example, so a sloped roofline may present some challenges. Further, building codes dictate strict minimums when it comes to matters of size. In most areas, building codes require homeowners to follow the "rule of 7s," which mandates that a finished attic total at least 70 square feet with minimum height and width requirements of 7 feet. Additional requirements dictate the number of windows, the method of heating and the safe installation of stairs. Generally speaking, the larger the attic, the more you can expect to spend — particularly when it comes to materials sold by the square foot (e.g., drywall, carpeting, insulation, etc.).


At least 8 percent of an attic’s usable floor area must be glazed, containing a 4 percent openable area. If your attic spans 100 square feet, for example, your window area must equal a minimum of 8 square feet, with 4 square feet opening to the outside. Homeowners who’ve installed fewer than five windows report spending an average of $2,219 on this project.

Ceiling Height

To qualify for conversion, your attic must contain at least 70 square feet of floor space, with ceilings at least 5 feet high. Further, at least half of usable area must contain ceilings at least 7 feet high. In an attic with 200 square feet of usable floor space in which the ceiling is 5 feet high, for example, at least 100 square feet of that space must contain ceilings at least 7 feet high.

Many homeowners opt to install dormers (windows that project from the sloped area of the roof) to raise ceiling height. The average cost of dormers runs from $1,800 for DIY dormer installation to $2,500 to $20,000 for professional installation.


Most building codes will require that your home's heating system be able to sustain a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in your remodeled and converted attic. In most cases, rising heat and attic insulation should be sufficient to sustain this temperature, negating the need for heating system upgrades. Homeowners who have invested in heating system upgrades report spending an average of $1,087 to install ducts and vents and $3,942 on a new furnace.


To comply with building codes, your attic must contain fixed stairs with a load capacity of at least 30 pounds per square foot. Floor joists must also meet local support requirements. Consult with a local architect or structural engineer for answers to these important questions before starting your attic project. Homeowners report paying an average of $50 to $150 per hour for structural advice related to attic renovations.


If you currently access your attic via pull-down steps or a hatchway, adding stairs may be a significant project. To comply with building codes, your stairway must span at least 36 inches wide with a maximum rise of 7.75 inches between treads. Treads must be at least 9.5 inches deep, and steps must have head clearance of at least 80 inches. Keep in mind that installing steps typically means losing several square feet in both the attic and the level below. Professional stair installation costs roughly $2,240 to $3,126, according to the national average.

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Turning Attics into Livable Space

Once you’ve determined the amount of livable square feet in your attic the structural requirements necessary to meet local building codes, you’ll need to determine how you’ll use the space. Homeowners commonly convert their attics for use as:

  • Recreational rooms with billiard tables and video games
  • Television or movie rooms containing big-screen TVs and plenty of plush, comfortable seating
  • Guest or master bedrooms with sunny windows, luxury bedding and attached bathrooms
  • Multipurpose workout, office and library spaces

No matter the goal for your space, you must start by installing walls and ceilings and then move on to adding flooring and lighting.

Walls and Ceilings

New walls and ceilings go a long way in transforming an unfinished attic into a livable space. Installing walls costs an average of $1,886 and installing ceilings costs $1,559. Finishing options include:

  • Drywall: Hung in sheets, drywall offers smooth walls and ceilings ready for painting or wallpapering. Drywall installation costs an average of $1,629.
  • Wallpaper: The variety of modern textures and patterns available makes wallpaper a versatile way to personalize your space. Wallpaper installation costs an average of $505.
  • Paint: Available in a nearly endless variety of shades, paint is one of the fastest and easiest ways to finish your attic and bring the space together. Professional paint jobs average $1,669.
  • Installing trim and crown molding: Trim — from basic baseboards to ornate crown molding, shiplap and beadboard — will provide a finished look to your space. Basic professional trimming costs an average of $1,094 to $1,304.


If there is a bedroom located below your attic, be sure to consider soundproofing when finishing your floors. Insulation will offer some sound relief in addition to climate control, but choosing a plush carpet over a plywood subfloor is your best bet when it comes to muffling footsteps and activity. Popular flooring options include:

  • Ceramic or porcelain tile: Ideal for use in a kitchen or bathroom, this flooring material offers easy cleaning at an average cost of $1,643.
  • Hardwood: Hardwood exudes warmth and elegance and coordinates equally well with contemporary and traditional decor for an average cost of $4,396.
  • Carpeting: Carpeting comes in a variety of colors and materials with pile height that ranges from flat to plush. Carpeting costs an average of $1,490.
  • Laminate: Pet-friendly and water-resistant, laminate flooring offers a traditional look with easy maintenance for an average cost of $2,748.

When you're deciding on a flooring material, consider both its use and its cost per square foot in addition to its look and feel. If you're adding a bathroom to the attic, for example, tile or another water-safe flooring material will be most appropriate. For a game room or bedroom, you might consider carpet or wood.


From desktop task lamps to integrated overhead lighting, installing the right types of lighting in the attic is essential for enhancing the usability of the space. Installing a ceiling fan, which costs an average of $242, offers a combination of overhead lighting and air circulation for a one-two punch. Other popular options include:

  • Recessed lighting: These lights are installed in the ceiling, where they provide overall light while leaving the lines of the ceiling intact. Recessed light fixtures average $50 to $200 per light.
  • Traditional ceiling-mounted lights: These common light fixtures offer a variety of styles ranging from domes that sit flush to the ceiling to dramatic hanging chandeliers. They cost $88 to $222.
  • Wall lights: From traditional sconces to modern wall lights, these fixtures allow users to create targeted lighting that supplements overhead lights for average costs of $90 to $230.

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How accessible is the space? If contractors have a difficult time hauling their tools and equipment in and out of the attic, homeowners can expect to pay higher labor costs. Additionally, because most attics don't include wiring, pipes and ducts, you may have to install these utilities to create a fully functional space.

  • Heating and Cooling: Have an HVAC specialist evaluate your space to see what, if anything, needs to be added. In some cases, your existing forced air blower may be sufficient. If not, you may need to install a window air conditioner (average cost $295) or an electric baseboard heater (average cost $150 to $200). Other options include installing more ducts and vents to piggyback off your existing HVAC system.
  • Electricity: First, homeowners should hire a licensed, insured electrician (average cost $50 to $100 per hour) to evaluate the home's electrical panel to determine if it can handle the increased load of a finished attic. The electrician can easily run wiring to the attic or install a new electrical panel rated for the increased electrical load (average cost $1,300 to $3,000).
  • Plumbing: Homeowners who opt to convert the attic into a master bedroom or a family room with a bathroom must install plumbing. To reduce costs, consider locating the bathroom close to the pipes that carry wastewater to the septic tank or sewer line to reduce the length of new pipe needed. Hiring a plumber costs $169 to $460 and installing plumbing costs an average of $1,058.

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Insulating the attic is important whether you're converting the attic or not. Adding insulation can save up to $600 in heating and cooling costs by making the entire house more airtight. Homeowners can choose from several types of insulation, each with its own benefits and potential costs, including batts, barriers, blown-in and spray foam insulation.


Batts are usually made from fiberglass or cellulose that's packaged in rolls with varying thicknesses. Installation costs an average of $1,533. The large rolls fit neatly between studs to fill voids and prevent air from leaking in and out of the exterior wall. Costs average $0.64 to $1.19 per square foot. This type of insulation works best in attics with few obstructions and standard joist spacing.


Radiant or reflective barrier insulation installation costs an average of $1,533. This insulation uses thermodynamics to increase the home's R-value, which represents the attic's ability to resist heat flow. Barriers work by absorbing and reflecting heat to maintain moderate temperatures. This type of attic insulation is best for homes in warm climates. It costs an average of $0.15 to $0.30 per square foot.

Blown-in Insulation

Blown-in insulation costs $1,346 to install, according to the national average. It offers efficient insulation with a high R-value and an average cost of $0.26 to $0.62 per square foot, with an additional $64 to $80 per hour in labor charges. Blown-in insulation usually consists of white cellulose, a paper-like material made from recycled cardboard and newspapers. This insulation offers easy installation, even in tight spots. Additionally, blown-in insulation is pest and moisture resistant.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam installation costs an average of $1,879. It comes in two types: open cell and closed cell foam. Although both do a good job of sealing gaps and leaks in attic walls and flooring, closed-cell spray foam offers the highest R-value of any insulation material. Closed-cell foam also provides a water vapor barrier. Open-cell spray foam acts an air barrier, and it offers the added benefit of sound reduction, which makes it a good option for insulating the attic floor. Open-cell foam costs an average of $0.44 to $0.65 per board foot. Closed-cell spray foam costs an average of $0.70 to $1 per board foot.

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Attics & Cooling

Temperatures in the attic can be the highest in the entire home, so remodelers should think ahead about cooling options. Window air conditioners and vents are one way to go, while installing fans can be effective and far less costly.

Whole House Fans

Whole house fans install in the attic's ceiling, and they vent hot air to the outside. These powerful fans create positive pressure that forces hot air out, and occupants can open windows in the rooms that need cooling. While the fan runs, negative pressure draws cool air in to lower temperatures in the whole house.

This type of fan costs approximately $1,000 to $1,600 to install. Homeowners who opt for these fans benefit from reduced cooling costs. Running a whole house fan costs between $0.01 and $0.05 per hour of operation, while running an air conditioner costs $0.17 to $0.20 per hour of operation. One downside of these fans is that they can be noisy. Additionally, whole house fans work best for homes in climates that have cool nights and the ability to leave windows open without worrying about security concerns.

Attic Fans

As the name implies, attic fans only exhaust air from the attic, removing the super-heated air from the room and creating negative pressure to help hot air escape through roof vents. Although an attic fan may help bring some of the cooler air from the second floor up, it doesn't offer the efficient, home-wide cooling of a whole house fan. Attic fan installation costs an average of $544 to install.

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