Can The Attic Be Converted To A Living Space? [And How To Go About That]

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The attic can be an excellent space to be transformed into a guest room, a family room, or even an eye-catching bedroom. But, you may have questions about how an attic can be converted into a comfortable, beautifully curated space. Not to worry, as we researched how to change an attic into a functional and visually appealing room.

Attics aren’t only for storing heirlooms and out-of-season possessions. Consider the benefits of increasing your living space by converting an attic into a bedroom, guest room, or an additional living room. A converted attic can also be turned into a showstopping walk-in closet of luxurious proportions too. Some attics may not be easy to convert, so familiarize yourself with local building codes before leaping into a costly conversion.

Be inspired by trendy and practical uses for a converted attic turned into an additional room. You might find yourself falling in love with the idea of a finished attic and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Continue reading to discover suggested wall treatments, lighting ideas, and handling sloped ceilings.

An attic bedroom with white bed and skylight, Can The Attic Be Converted To A Living Space? [And How To Go About That]

The Attic’s Potential Unleashed

The attic is typically a part of the house that is not ventured into often. Unless troublesome animals are roosting, you need a space to store boxes or dust off family heirlooms; the attic is rarely used. Find a new purpose for an underused attic by converting it into a private study, an entertainment room, a bedroom, or additional space for house guests.

Small hotel room interior

Now, there are times when structurally, it would be too expensive or not feasible to convert an attic into a living space. Note that it will need to uphold modern building codes for structural soundness and safety standards when an attic is converted.

Usually, a transformed attic will need new stairs.  A structural engineer should review your home for required changes to bear the weight of the converted room, and the costs may be significantly higher than first estimated.

If your home’s design and structural integrity can handle transforming an attic into a new bedroom, office space, or kid’s playroom, go for it. It can be a fun challenge scouring sources for furniture and lighting that will complement an oddly-shaped room with sloped ceilings, small windows, and exposed beams.

Common Room Ideas For Attics

Attic modern bedroom with white bed and skylight

The attic in a home provides a place for hot air to escape, and this space is often exposed to more extreme temperatures than other parts of a home. Ensure there is sufficient insulation, good lighting, and proper air circulation for comfort and safety alike. Some excellent room ideas for a converted attic include, but are not limited to the following.

  • An office
  • A bedroom
  • A family room
  • A kid’s play space
  • A luxury bathroom
  • An at-home hideaway

What limits you with an attic conversion rests mostly on your house’s original structure, the cost of changes, and what type of room best fits the space and your lifestyle.

Cost Breakdown Of Conversion

After deciding to convert a finished or unfinished attic into a new room, it is essential to understand the cost breakdown. It is one thing to know the average cost of a renovation may run up to $50,000, but it is necessary to understand why and where the money is going. Some of the most inexpensive attic conversions are a sleeping loft or a simple home office.

Prepare to pay an average of $50 to $200 a square foot to transform an attic space into a room. A beautiful master bedroom with an included closet and bathroom costs an average of $22,000 to $64,000. If you wish to install a dormer for lighting, the cost depends on the shape of your roof and the style of dormer. Create more space and a nook to relax with a dormer and invest $2,500 to $20,000. An attic office typically runs between $10,000 to $40,000.

The floors of an attic may cost between $3,000 to $16,000. The walls and ceilings run an average of $2,800 to $8,000.  Let the light shine in an attic conversion and spend between $1,000 to $3,400. HVAC and plumbing range between $900 and $3,900. Insulation and fans may cost an average of $2,100 to $4,000. Also, a building permit may run you between $400 to $2,000. Note that transforming an attic space can net you an ROI between 50% and 75% of the cost, so it is worth it.

Building Codes Covered

If you are going to convert an attic, it will immediately need to meet modern building codes. Hire a professional to help guide you regarding your home, as many attics have 2×4 rafters and floor joists. An attic turned into a living room, kitchen, or bedroom will need to be outfitted with 2×10 floor joists and 2×12 rafters, in addition to insulation.

Below a converted attic space, the lower levels of a house may need reinforcement and renovations to support the new heavier load upstairs. Also, check out your local building codes to see whether your house can be grandfathered in for existing structures. Chances are, the steep stairs leading to an attic will have to be replaced and must connect to the floor below.

Note that one of the easiest attic conversions without undergoing lengthy and expensive changes is turning it into a sleeping loft. Remember, in most cases, an attic room should provide a clearance of 7 feet vertically and a minimum width of 7 feet. There should also be a minimum of 70 square feet of space to move about with a connecting staircase to the lower floor for safety. Additional emergency exits should be available via an accessible window or door too.

Last but not least, research whether you will need to get building permits before beginning an attic conversion project. You will have to account for needed changes to the ventilation and heating systems if they are rudimentary or of poor quality. Attics can become pretty hot, cold, and damp, so an attic room should be outfitted to reduce these problems. According to Home Advisor, the average cost of an attic conversion runs about $40,000.

Converting The Attic

An interior view of a house attic under construction

Ready to get started converting an attic into a brand new and improved room in your home? Once you have the money to invest in your property and call in the professionals for assistance, it’s time to get to work. First, clean up your attic and remove any loose, damaged, or old insulation, drywall, and flooring. If the flooring is sound, you’ll need to install a subfloor and additional support to bear the weight.

Have an electrician come in to wire the attic and make sure there is at least one outlet for each wall for every 12 feet. Install insulation, caulk any leaks, and fill spaces that could create energy loss. Next, install drywall, ceilings, and add a paint treatment. Finally, add the flooring. Carpet is suggested for attics to cut down on noise and add insulation and comfort underfoot.

Before starting any home renovations, don’t forget to get any needed permits, follow local building codes, and hire a professional. Installing necessary wiring and electrical work, plumbing, walls, and flooring can be easily botched if you do it yourself versus a certified, licensed professional.

Can All Attics Be Converted?

Sometimes it’s not worth converting an attic, or it is too expensive to do so. If an attic is outfitted with 2x4s for the flooring and rafters and is too costly to augment, you might want to pass. Additionally, attics may need to be rewired for lighting, new HVAC systems should be installed, and windows might need adjusting or installation to allow for natural light. Many people considering converting an attic look into installing dormers.

One of the most expensive things to consider is installing a whole new set of stairs which should reach the lower floor for access. Check local laws to see what details of your home can be bypassed and what must be up to code for safety and health standards. In some instances, it might be better to change the entire top of the house rather than transform an existing attic.

How Much Does It Cost To Convert An Attic Into A Room?

The cost of an attic conversion into a living room, bedroom, or space for guests depends on a few factors. Remodeling a finished attic can set you back $11,940 to $28,810, depending on your plans for the space and the attic’s layout and structure. Prepare to spend an average of $40,000 to $50,000 to fully convert an attic into a room. Don’t shy away from converting an attic because of the cost, as the ROI is typically up to 62% for your investment into your home.

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Can You Put A Bathroom In The Attic?

If the idea of a bathroom in the attic has you excited and curious, know that it is possible. Do check local building codes before you start to get any necessary permits. Hire a professional to help you assess your home’s needs to make building a bathroom in the attic a reality. The tub in a bathroom can be pretty hefty, so it is vital to build a durable subfloor, strengthen the joists, and erect non-load-bearing walls for the interior.

There needs to be a window that can open, install exhaust fans, and prepare to have wiring installed with at least two 20-amp circuits for lighting. Additionally, call a professional plumber to install supply and drainage lines for the toilet, tub, shower, and sink.

Take a good look at the walls in an attic, as sloping sides may make the placement of fixtures tricky. Note, the average cost of installing a bathroom is $5,000 to $35,000, and to flip an attic into a bathroom can cost $9,600 to $52,000.

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Does A Finished Attic Count As Square Footage?

A finished attic or an attic converted into a room can count into a home’s square footage if the ceiling height meets the building code requirements. Staircases and closets also count toward a home’s square footage too. If an attic is left untouched and is not finished, it does not count toward a property’s square footage. For a space in a home to be considered finished, it should have flooring, a ceiling, wall coverings and can be lived in annually.

In Closing

We hope you have learned more about converting an attic into a living space and feel confident about doing so for your home. A new room in an attic space can add visual appeal to a home, raises the property value, and provides another well-used space to enjoy, entertain, and thrive. Make sure to get familiar with local building codes, understand the high cost of undertaking an attic renovation and conversion, and hire professional help.

Many changes that need to be made to an attic to ensure that it is structurally sound, can bear the weight, and is safe to live in cannot be done by yourself. Do get a permit before beginning conversion to an attic. Instead of being a forgotten far-off space in your home, a converted attic can gain a new life as a bedroom, kid’s playroom, office, or secret getaway.

Before you leave, don’t miss out on the following helpful articles.

Is The Attic Considered A Story?

Can You Add An Attic To A House – And Is It Worth It?

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