To convert an attic into a living space, you need to meet the same building code requirements as other rooms in your home.

Space regulations can be a problem for homeowners. You need to have enough usable space and the right kind of space to meet certain regulations in order to satisfy the building code.

Many older homes don’t have the right types of attics for all the space regulations needed.

We are going to talk about the space requirements when you are converting attic to living space. 

We will then look at the types of living spaces you might want to convert your attic to.

Last but certainly not least we are going to go over the estimated cost in your conversion plan.

Is my attic suitable for conversion?

Floor Space Minimum and Dimensions

The minimum floor space is 70 square feet.

The reason for this is to make sure there is adequate usable living space.

It is required that you have at least 7 feet in any direction. This would mean a minimum of 7′ x 10′.

The reason for this is to prevent dangerous spaces from being built by homeowners. An example of a 70 square feet floor space is not allowed because of its 4′ x 17′ dimensions.

Ceiling Height

At least 50% of the usable floor space should have a minimum ceiling height of 7 ft. or more.

Homeowners should not create living space that does not allow people to stand up.

Roof Rafters or Trusses

The presence of roof rafters is one of the factors that can affect whether or not converting attic to living space is even possible. 

The traditional rafters look like triangles where trusses look like triangles with smaller triangles inside of them. These are called chords and webs.

The extra support that comes from the trusses is considered to be a superior method of framing a roof structure. The clear space in the rafters provides a better environment for an attic conversion.

It will be very difficult to rearrange the trusses to allow for clear space. If your roof is made with trusses you should look for other areas in your house to get the extra living space you desire.

Flooring Requirements

The attic floor might have been built with dead loads in mind. Boxes, trunks, suitcases, and other items that do not move are called dead loads. The things used by people are called live loads.

In rare cases, the attic in new construction homes may have been built unfinished, with the proper flooring in place, to allow the homeowner to finish the space later on.

In most cases, the joists are unable to support live loads, and may not even be covered with boards. If you open up your attic, you might find bare insulation between the joists.

Suitable Stairway Access

There is a chance that your attic currently has a fixed ladder, a pull-down ladder, or no ladder at all. A set of code-compliant attic stairs is what you probably don’t have.

To convert an attic into a livable space, you can’t use a pull-down ladder. The staircase must be built and fixed to the structure of the home.

  • The entire walking length of the stairs should have a minimum of 6’8″ of headroom.
  • It should be at least 36″ wide.
  • The treads must be at least 10 feet deep.
  • The risers should be at least 7 inches high.

What can I convert my attic into?

Master Suite

A master bedroom suite can be created from the large attic space found in many homes.  

The cost of adding additional living space is reduced if you decide to remodel within the footprint of your home.  

A master bedroom suite in an attic can be a great way to use unused space as well as save money.

Guest Bedroom

If you have an unfinished attic, you may think it’s hard to turn it into an additional bedroom.

You might think you’re going to spend a lot of time and money on one small room.

With the right planning and pre-conversion considerations, an attic bedroom conversion can be done with minimal stress.

Children’s Bedroom

If you’re dealing with a narrow space, it may be more practical to turn your attic into one or two smaller kids’ bedrooms. Using bunk beds might be a good choice giving extra space for playing and toys.

Make sure to keep the space cozy so it will get plenty of use. 

Teen’s Retreat Bedroom

We know every teenager likes their own space.  They like an area where they can spend time with friends out of the earshot of their parents. That’s why an attic can be the perfect teenage bedroom conversion.

Dressing Room Or Wardrobe Closet

If you love the idea of incorporating a dressing room into your attic space, you can use an open wardrobe or clothes rack to create extra storage and cut down on the amount of space required. 

Kids Playroom

If your attic is going to be a playroom, pile on vibrant colors to make the space bright and happy.

A modular sectional makes a great place to snuggle and lounge.

Carpet tiles are also a brilliant choice for playrooms; if one gets stained, swap it with one in a less conspicuous part of the room.

Home Office

A home office is a good idea if you don’t need an extra bedroom for your family and you work from home.

In order to maximize productivity, a home office needs plenty of natural light so don’t use black-out blinds or heavy materials.

A built-in desk can create a bigger living space in your office for chairs and other furniture.

Home Library or Reading Hideaway

Are you a big fan of reading?

You might want to consider creating a dedicated spot for your collection of books, vinyl, or anything else you care about. Even a small area can be used to its fullest potential.

Home Theater

Home theaters work best in attics that have insulation to create a comfortable environment. Extra residential renovations may need to be done on unfinished attics.

A bare minimum of insulation, floor coverings, and wall coverings is required for an unfinished space. Once you have a comfortable space, you can move on to the basics of home theater installation.

Dormer Window Attic Conversion

Over the last few hundred years, the use of dormer windows in residential construction has not changed much. Today, homeowners are more interested in choosing a style of window to complement their house design.

Windows in dormer loft conversions are still very useful for bringing natural light into attics and lofts.

Additionally, dormers are used as escape windows. You also may know it as an egress window. In case of a fire or other type of disaster, escape windows are extremely important.

How Much Does it Cost When Converting Attic To Living Space?

The typical cost for a finished attic is $9,600 to $80,000, with an average cost of $10,000-$15,000.

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, expect to pay up to $200 per square foot.

So many styles, finishes, and factors go into how cost-effective converting attic to living space is.  Here we are giving you the averages.

Turning Attic Into a Living Space Cost

Master Suite$27,000-$80,000

We will provide you with a more accurate and detailed cost once we look at the scope of your attic conversion project.

Cost to Consider When Converting Attic to Living Space

If you want to begin the project, we suggest hiring a home addition contractor. A good contractor like us at BIL Specialties will give a cost estimate for the whole project and then break it down into individual steps of the process.

An attic renovation requires specialists or subcontractors to finish out the space if you decide to oversee the project yourself.

1. Clean Out Your Attic

You need to remove any old junk and building materials that you no longer need before you start converting attic to living space.

If you’re going to add new insulation before installing drywall, remove any old insulation. If the insulation is loose, an industrial vacuum is the best way to remove it.

The average cost to clean the attic is $100-$160.

2. Wire the Attic for Electricity

New wires, adding outlets, and possibly putting in a ceiling fixture are some of the things that this includes.

On average, this will cost somewhere between $1,300 and $3,000.

3. Build a Subfloor

Adding a subfloor will be a must if you can see joists instead of plywood in your attic.

This process will take place once all electrical and ventilation installations have been completed. It’s important to reduce the sound coming from your attic through the floor to the rest of the house.

You can install subflooring over the insulation on the attic floor if it’s in good shape. This will reinforce the existing flooring in order to handle the additional foot traffic and weight.

If it is an old compressed floor structure, then it’s time to replace it.

Subflooring will cost somewhere in the $500-$800 range.

4. Consider Your Heating and Ventilation Needs

If your attic doesn’t already have ductwork, you will need to find out if your current method of heating and cooling will support an additional room.

It’s important that you have an expert look at the capacity of your current heating and cooling system. They can tell you if additional ductwork is needed to reach your attic and also make sure your current system is able to handle the extra square footage.

If you are going to install insulation in your attic, a contractor should check for rafter vents to make sure air can move behind it. Even though the attic is warm attic Vents will help keep your roof cooler.

If ductwork or heating capacity is beyond your budget, a window unit cooling system and portable heating is a good alternative.

The cost to install ducts, vents, or any other HVAC will be $500-$2000 depending on your needs.

5. Insulate Your Attic

Ensuring that your attic has proper insulation is important to maintaining a constant temperature.

It is important to have additional insulation in your rafters, it can help you decrease your heating and air conditioning costs.

To make the space usable, you will need to make sure proper insulation is installed. Installation of attic insulation is expected to cost between $800-$3,500. This will include materials and labor for a professional to add it.

Since spray foam insulation is easy to use in unfinished walls and attics, many homeowners choose it. Depending on the size of the home, spray foam injected into it can cost between $3 to $5 per square foot.

6. Install Drywall and Ceiling

It’s time to finish the attic walls once you have installed the insulation. The hanging of drywall will make the attic conversion take shape.

You can pay between $375 and $1,900 for materials and installation. On average it will cost twice as much to install drywall on the ceiling.

7. Choose and Install Attic Flooring

The flooring choices in your attic will have different costs depending on your plan.

The average cost of waterproof tiling in a bathroom is around $1,600. Depending on material and installation, hardwood, laminate, and carpeting will cost between $1,500 and $4,000.

You need to consider additional costs and materials to make sure you do not have to hear every step downstairs.

8. Paint Attic Ceiling and Walls

The renovations have been done and it’s time to paint the walls. You can either do it yourself or have your general contractor take care of painting the walls.

The average cost to have an interior painter do the work is between $200 and $2,700.

Does finishing an attic increase value?

Converting attic to living space can quickly add up to a lot of money, which may lead you to question whether or not it’s worth it.

If you are converting an attic into a bedroom or bathroom you could see a 50% to 75% return on investment, according to HomeAdvisor. Adding a bathroom and bedroom is more expensive than simply enclosing the space into a room. The highest return on investment is going to be a bedroom and bath addition.

For example, a two-bedroom, one-bath home can now be considered a three-bedroom, two-bath, adding a lot of value to its sale potential or rental desirability.

If you don’t need another bedroom or bathroom adding additional space with a loft conversion is definitely a cheaper option. Going with a loft option will also increase the value of your home because of the square footage you will be adding.


Is converting an attic into usable living space worth it?

The majority of homeowners converting attic to living space are extremely happy with the result.  

This is your chance to convert an attic that is currently used for storage into usable space. Converting your attic into a bedroom, home office, playroom, studio, or entertainment space is a very popular option. If you don’t have attic space then you need to look at adding a full or partial second story addition to accomplish your additional living space goals.

Make the most of this opportunity and you will get that much more value out of your home in terms of enjoyment, as well as a higher selling price.

If you are interested in any other type of addition check out our list of 12 Room Additions That Can Increase Value & Space in Dallas Metroplex.

What kind of living space would you ideally want to convert your attic to?

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