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attic bedroom

Should You Convert an Attic to Living Space?


Jul 25, 2020 by Maurie Backman

For many homes, the attic is nothing more than a storage area. Some attics, in fact, are left ignored for years. But if you'd rather make good use of that space, you might consider finishing your attic the same way you would a basement. The critical question: Is that a worthwhile investment?

What will an attic remodel cost you?

Converting your attic to living space could involve a number of things:

  • Putting up walls.
  • Installing floors.
  • Running electricity.
  • Adding insulation.

As such, the National Association of Realtors estimates that turning an attic into living space will cost $80,000 on average. Clearly that's a significant outlay. But will you get that money back when you go to sell your home?

Unfortunately, you'll generally recoup just a portion of that investment -- $45,000, or 56% of the sum you'll need to put into the project. As such, only 2% of Realtors have suggested that sellers convert an attic to living space before listing their homes.

In addition to the money you might spend finishing your attic, you may find that your cooling bills get more expensive in the summer. Because heat rises, your air conditioner may have to work extra hard to get that newly finished space cool enough to enjoy.

Is a finished attic a good investment for you?

If your goal is to get a good return on investment, then there are different home renovations you should look into before you consider converting your attic to living space. Similarly, if you're in the business of flipping homes, it may not pay to put much, or any, money into finishing an attic.

But if you're itching for more living space in your current home and you don't want to pack up and move to another home or neighborhood, then finishing your attic may be a worthwhile move, even if you don't fully recoup the cost involved. If you're eager to add a new bedroom to your home so that each of your kids can have his or her own room, or if you've started working remotely and need a dedicated home office, your attic could solve those problems. Or, you can turn your attic into a play area for your children if there's not another room in your home you can designate for that purpose.

You might especially consider converting your attic to living space if your home doesn't have a basement or an attached garage that can serve the same purpose. And while you'll spend money to finish that attic, you might also save money: You won't need to pay a real estate agent a fee to sell your home or pay movers to haul your belongings when your lack of space prompts you to buy a larger home.

The bottom line on converting your attic to living space

Ultimately, from an investment standpoint, finishing an attic generally doesn't make a lot of sense, so if you're flipping a home or renovating one in preparation to sell, you shouldn't bother. But if you want to stay in your home and need extra living space, then it's a reasonable solution to consider.

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