How much does it cost to finish an unfinished attic or third floor?
We were recently asked this question: "We love this additional space on the third floor, and think it will make an incredible retreat for the kids. How much does it generally cost to finish an attic?"
In the Raleigh area, basements are not nearly as common as in other parts of the country. However, it is more likely that you'll see an unfinished third floor, or some attic space that can be finished.
It all depends on the size and price point of the home, as well as the style and size of the roofline.
If the builder has included stairs to the third floor or attic, the space can often be finished and add to the available living space of the home.
Some ideas for this space include:
- Hobby area
- Game room
- Kids play area
- Sports center
- Guest retreat
So what is the cost to finish an unfinished attic or third floor?
Generally, the minimum cost will be about $50 per square foot. This will include:
- Basic lighting
- Basic electrical outlets
- HVAC system (which will require an additional heat pump, AC unit, and duct work - the cost for this is usually about $6,000 alone)
- Basic required trimwork
- Standard level carpet
Because the heating and air conditioning alone is such a high cost, it can be less cost effective to finish a smaller space, and the total cost per square foot will vary based on the size of the space being finished.
If you'll need to add a staircase, the price tag can be much higher - depending on what needs to be done to incorporate a staircase from the second floor to the third.
The expense of the project can also increase if you need to add any kind of windows or skylights.
Not only will you need to purchase the window, but if the structure is complete, you'll also need to remove siding and roofing, reframe the structure, add the window, and replace the siding and roofing.
Ask for a detailed quote for finishing.
Usually this will not include a bathroom - and the cost of adding a bathroom will vary depending on the finishes desired as well as what stage of construction the home is in.
If requested at planning stage, the plumber, framers, and electricians will be able to complete all work as they are finishing the rest of the home, resulting in some savings.
A third floor can be a great space for a homeowner to finish themselves over time, with some significant labor savings. Check with your local jurisdiction to see if any permits are required - you'll want to be able to count the area as finished square footage if you should ever want to sell your home.
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