Attic Conversions: Using the Space You Have

Moving Tips

dormer on the roof of a house in Rhode Island

Consider looking up if you want to remodel to add more space in your home without having to move. An attic conversion could be your dream come true.

This is because attic conversions can cost less than other remodeling projects that require changing a home’s footprint, provided there’s enough space beneath the shingles. You also need to do some research and know what you want.

“They have to consider the function and purpose of their attic,” said Alonso Rodriguez, managing partner of Los Angeles Garage Conversions, a general contractor. “Do they just want to use it to store stuff? Or are they going to use it to have their own man cave or additional room they can lease?”

Attic conversions are a popular choice these days due to the high cost of real estate. It can be harder to scrape together money to move to a bigger place across town than to remodel at home, said Elizabeth McKenna, director of marketing for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Read on for tips from our experts to learn if an attic conversion is a good idea for getting more space out of your place!

dormer the roof of a yellow house in Glendale

Attic Conversion Costs

The good news for homeowners: our experts say converting an attic can be relatively inexpensive, depending on the space you have and how workable it is. Costs vary by region and size, of course, says McKenna.

If you can fit the project into your home’s existing footprint and don’t need anything fancy, you’ll save the most.

In L.A., as just one example, the most basic attic conversion starts from $5,000—for the easiest project to add flooring for storage—to $20,000 or more depending on the amount of work and the quality of the finishing touches, Rodriguez says.

Changing the roofline to increase the size increases the price even more, to $30,000 to $50,000, he said.

That’s compared to a national average of $41,994 and up to $108,000 or more for large additions, according to the contractor referral website Angie’s List.

You’re paying for carpentry, drywall, insulation and paint. Extending AC, electrical and plumbing for a bedroom or bathroom attic conversion can require plumbers, electricians and more, and can increase the price. You might also need to reinforce the space to hold extra weight.

“Dormers are commonly used to increase the usable space in a loft, to create window openings in a roof plane,” he said. “It’s more than extra space. It’s a big enough space for you to use as a recreational room or lease out a large bedroom.”

With added dormers, and the slanted roofs of most homes, the unique shapes of an attic make it a popular choice for a children’s bedroom, and the large size also make it ideal for a master suite or rec room, said McKenna. The choice is yours!

attic window on a stucco house

Is A Conversion an Option in Your Attic?

Consider the space between the “floor” and “ceiling” of your attic as it is now compared to the living areas downstairs. This is one of many important details that will offer a clue about whether you can fit rooms in your attic’s space without raising the roof.

You also need to figure out where to put stairs to the attic, and how to make them fit without interrupting the flow through your existing rooms. If you’re adding a living space, you probably want to be sure to get it permitted, to ensure it’s done to code and to ensure you get credit for the extra square footage when you go to sell.

It helps to work with an expert with experience with this type of project.

“Does that stairwell meet the general universal standard for minimum width, size of step, with a hand rail and head room?” asked McKenna.

Of course, as with any remodel, there are a lot of other basics to keep in mind, such as following local building and electrical code, said McKenna.

“When you think of long term benefits for the homeowner, think about what’s your plan for your home,” she said. “Are you going to make this renovation and stay in your home, or is it for the purposes of resale?”



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