How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic?

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic?

The longer you live in your house, the more obvious it may become that you need more living space — perhaps for a guest bedroom when your family expands or as a home office where you can work remotely in a telecommuting society. Your first thought might be to build an addition, but the sticker shock may cause you to shelve that idea and instead consider an attic conversion.

Fortunately, an attic conversion is an idea that may be more economical than a complete home addition. Read on for a full breakdown of the cost to finish an attic.

Should You Convert Your Attic Space?

There are many benefits of converting an attic into usable space, including:

•   The space already exists in your home, making this choice both cost- and time-effective.

•   You don’t need to pour a foundation, again making it a more viable and economical option.

•   Wiring is likely already in place and can be modified to suit your needs.

An attic conversion also allows you to use the entire envelope of your home, rather than wasting potential living space.

Before you fully commit to your attic remodel, though, it’s crucial to make sure your attic has the potential to become a usable living space. Better Homes & Gardens provides a litmus test to determine whether your attic is worth remodeling .

Recommended: Renovation vs. Remodel

Tips on Converting an Attic, Plus Associated Costs

One of the first things you might do before converting your attic is to see if your roof is being supported by W-shaped trusses in your attic. If so, it’s likely that building an addition is a better choice. If your attic contains A-shaped rafters, though, that’s a plus; if there’s enough open space beneath the rafters, then you can potentially convert your attic into usable space.

Other considerations that Better Homes & Gardens recommend include to:

•   Check your local building codes to make sure your remodel will fit. As just one example, a typical requirement is that the attic space must be at least 7.5 feet high and over 50 percent of the floor area. The thickness of the material will also factor into the final headroom and ceiling height. The quickest way to add significant costs to your attic remodel is to be forced to change course mid-project because of a code violation (though this is an example of personal loan use that could come in handy).

•   Determine how you’ll get into the space. Will you need to add a staircase or expand the current one? Stairs that go straight up will need more floor space than, say, spiral staircases. Or perhaps your only option is a pull-down access point; this will limit what furniture and materials you can fit into your attic conversion and how utilitarian the new living space might be.

•   Consider whether you’ll need to add windows. If you’re creating an additional bedroom, codes may require an egress window in case of fires. But even if they aren’t required, you might consider adding windows or punching skylights that open to brighten the space with natural light.

•   Decide how much flooring needs to be reinforced, along with any electrical or plumbing issues. If you ultimately decide that your attic has what’s needed for a successful conversion, it’s time to think both practically and creatively to shape what may well become the most interesting — and potentially challenging — room in your house.

•   Prioritize what’s most important to you. Maybe it’s crucial that the attic is fully plumbed for a bathroom because you want this space to serve as a guest suite. To make that happen, perhaps you’d be willing to give up your specialty flooring idea if your budget doesn’t accommodate both or if it could make it harder to get your personal loan approved for the project.

•   Consult with a professional unless you’re already an experienced builder. Ask friends, family members, and building associations for recommendations and referrals, then request quotes from at least three contractors to understand both possibilities and associated costs. When you contact contractors, ask them for credentials. Compare bids and, tempting as it may be, don’t automatically choose the lowest one. Make sure the contractor describes what will be provided as well as the estimated time frame.

Want to know how much value your attic conversion will bring to the table? Check out SoFi’s Home Project Value Estimator.

Recommended: How to Find a Contractor for Home Renovations & Remodeling

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Square Foot?

On average, you can expect to pay between $4,600 to $16,000 — or $30 to $60 per square foot — to refinish your attic. Most high-end attic conversions can cost as much as $200 per square foot.

Overall, costs vary depending on the overall square footage and the materials you use.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic per Task?

If you hire individual contractors for each aspect of your attic remodel, then it’s easy to see what each portion of the remodel is costing you. However, if you hire a contractor to manage the entire project, you likely won’t receive the project broken down into great detail.

Here are some estimates you might expect to pay for various components of your attic renovation:

Cost of Walls and Ceilings

New walls and ceilings can effectively transform an unfinished attic into a space that’s both comfortable and livable. Although prices vary by where you live, attic drywall can cost an average of $1,000 to $2,600 to install, with ceilings costing $120 to $25,000.

Other aspects to consider: Will you paint the walls and ceilings? Add wallpaper? Do you need trim and crown molding? All of these features will be additional costs and can quickly cause your project budget to skyrocket.

Cost of Flooring

Flooring is another important consideration, so first think about what’s located directly below the attic space. Do you need soundproofing? If a bedroom is located below the attic space, you’ll likely want some sound control. Insulation provides that to some degree, and carpeting adds even more dampening.

The cost of attic flooring will depend on the current state of the attic and what materials you choose. Replacing floor joists to beef up the strength will cost anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000, while installing subfloor will run between $500 and $800. Installing the flooring itself averages between $200 and $6,400, depending on material and square footage.

Cost of Windows and Skylights

If there currently are no windows in your attic, you may want to add an egress window, which will run you between around $2,500 and $5,300, as a safety precaution. You also might want windows or skylights to brighten the space with natural light. Expect to pay an average of $200 to $10,000 to install an attic window, and $1,000 to $2,400 to add a skylight.

Cost of Heating and Cooling

Your attic conversion might require additional heating and cooling. The price to install an attic fan is around $400 to $900, and a window air conditioner averages $298. A skillful contractor could also potentially tie in your current climate control system.

For heat, baseboard heaters run $780 on average. Electricians charge $75 to $200 per hour in labor, and installing duct plumbing might cost you between $454 and $2,051 on average.

If your attic is difficult to access during the renovation period, contractors may tack on a surcharge. To get an idea of how much your attic renovation will cost, use our Home Improvement Cost Calculator.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic Yourself?

It’s generally cheaper to go the DIY route than to hire a professional — though you will need some know-how. If you’re making minor improvements to your attic space, you may be looking at an attic remodel cost as low as $300. However, if you’re looking to make a total transformation, your costs for materials could run as high as $50,000.

Though you’ll certainly save on labor costs, make sure to take into account the time involved if you decide to do it yourself as opposed to bringing in a professional.

How Much Does It Cost to Finish an Attic by Type?

How much it costs to finish an attic will also vary depending on the type of attic space you’re creating. Here’s a look at how much an attic remodel costs by attic type.

Cost of Finishing a Walk-Up Attic

The cost of finishing a walk-up attic generally ranges anywhere from $8,100 and $26,000. Large portions of the costs are typically adding a staircase and installing flooring.

Finishing an Attic as a Storage Space

If you’re finishing an attic to serve as a storage space, your costs are generally a little lower as there isn’t as much polishing involved. Generally, the attic remodel cost for a storage space runs from $4,600 for a simpler setup to $18,900 if the space is larger and you opt for more elaborate storage systems.

Cost to Finish an Attic With a Dormer

Installing a dormer — a window that juts out vertically on a sloped roof — can add in some ceiling height and natural sunlight into an attic. However, it will set you back. On average, the cost to add in a dormer ranges anywhere from $2,500-$20,000, plus the additional costs of other attic remodeling work.

Cost to Finish an Attic Above a Garage

The cost to finish an attic above a garage can vary widely depending on what’s involved, such as the installation of heating, insulation, or ventilation. You can typically expect to pay anywhere from $4,600 up to $24,000.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Finishing an Attic?

As you may have guessed from the wide-ranging estimates above, the cost of finishing an attic can vary a lot depending on what’s involved and what materials you use. Here are some major factors that can affect how much it costs to finish an attic:

•   Square footage: How large your attic is will play a big role in the total costs involved in remodeling. The bigger an attic is, the more materials required and the more time it will take to finish it, which translates to additional labor costs.

•   Need for structural changes: You’ll also pay extra if your attic is an odd shape or difficult to access. These challenges could call for structural updates, such as the addition of height, the expansion of space, or the creation of a staircase.

•   Intended use: Your planned purpose for your attic will also influence cost. If you just want to add in some additional storage space, you’ll pay a lot less than if you plan to install a full suite complete with a bedroom, bathroom, and closet.

•   Extra features desired: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more features you want in your newly remodeled attic, the more it will cost you. Big-ticket items include windows, electricity, plumbing, and heating and cooling.

Of course, another factor that influences your cost is whether you need to get financing for the project and, if so, what terms you’re able to secure. Keep in mind that you can always use our personal loan calculator to see how your current loan stacks up.

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The Takeaway

An attic conversion can be one way to create a unique room through adding more usable space to your home. It’s also a more economical home renovation project than an addition to your house. There are a lot of technical aspects to consider, and before getting started, it’s best to check with your local codes office so you know any building or permit requirements upfront, then come up with a project wishlist before soliciting bids from at least three contractors.

Figuring out how to finance your attic conversion is the last step of the project before getting started. If you’re looking for help with some or even the whole cost of your attic conversion, a home improvement loan is one way to finance virtually any home project. These are essentially one of the types of personal loans used to pay for renovations, additions, or updates to your home or property.

SoFi offers personal loans online for home improvement with a fast approval process, so you can get started sooner than later. Because of SoFi’s low rates and flexible terms, it can be a better choice than paying for your remodel with high-interest credit cards. And because this is an unsecured loan, you aren’t using your home as collateral like you would with a home equity line of credit.

Ready to start renovating your attic? Learn more about how SoFi personal loans can help.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Loss of Use Insurance: What is It, and What’s Covered?

Loss of Use Insurance: What Is It and What Does It Cover?

When most of us think of homeowners insurance, we think about getting coverage for major home repairs — the big-ticket items the insurance company can pay out for in the event of a loss or damage. We’re talking about things like a tree falling over in a storm and wrecking your roof or a robber making off with your electronics and jewelry.

Sure, you need that kind of protection, but your homeowner’s insurance policy should also include a very important kind of coverage beyond that: loss of use coverage. This is also sometimes known as additional living expenses (ALE) coverage or Part D coverage. Loss of use coverage is an important part of your home insurance (and some rental insurance policies) that kicks in when your home is rendered uninhabitable. Let’s say in the example above, where your roof needs major repair work. You may not be able to live in your home while this is underway. Since you have “lost the use” of your typical living space, the policy will help you pay for lodging and other expenses.

Read on to learn more about the loss of use coverage, including coverage limits and policy conditions. It’s an important consideration if a worst-case scenario ever happens to your home sweet home.

What Does Loss of Use Coverage Mean?

Loss of use coverage is the part of your homeowner’s insurance policy that covers the costs you’ll incur if you lose the usage of your home.

For example, if a fire destroys a significant portion of your house and it needs to be rebuilt, your typical home insurance policy will cover the cost of repairs. But (and this is a biggie) you may find yourself suddenly facing a whole lot of living expenses you otherwise wouldn’t. Hotel rooms and restaurant meals can add up quickly, and without your own kitchen and bedroom to cook in and retire to, you’d be pretty much forced to take advantage of these expensive options. Or perhaps you have to put your possessions in storage as your home is rebuilt, or even rent an apartment. These are the kinds of expenses that loss of use coverage will typically reimburse.

Recommended: Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

Coverage Limits

Like most other forms of insurance, loss of use coverage does come with certain limits — you don’t have carte blanche to go out and stay at a swanky hotel for months and eat exclusively Wagyu beef on the insurance company’s dime.

Generally, loss of use insurance is calculated and expressed as a percentage of your dwelling coverage limit — the amount of money up to which the insurer will pay out to repair or rebuild your home in the event of a qualified loss.

For example, if your dwelling insurance limit is $350,000, and your loss of use coverage is 20%, you’d have up to $70,000 to put toward living expenses during the time your home is being repaired. That may sound like a lot of money, but you’re likely to face a lot of expenses, especially since you’ll still be responsible, during that time, for paying your mortgage, insurance premiums, and other normal monthly bills.

Loss of use coverage is most commonly between 20% and 30% of the dwelling coverage limit, but it is possible to find plans with a higher loss of use limit — or a lower one.

In fact, although loss of use coverage is fairly standard, it is possible to purchase a homeowners or renters insurance policy that doesn’t include it, so always be sure to read your paperwork in full, including the fine print, to ensure you know what you’re getting.

Recommended: What Is Renters Insurance and Do I Need It?

Policy Conditions

Loss of use coverage is subject to additional conditions along with the coverage limit. For example, you’ll most likely be asked to prove your expenses to the insurance company in order to get the claim paid — so be sure to keep the receipts for all those hotel-room breakfasts!

Your policy may include other terms and conditions as well. Yet again, another good reason to get nice and cozy with that fine print.

Which Living Expenses Are Covered By Loss of Use Insurance?

Although the loss of use insurance covers many different kinds of living expenses while your home is being rebuilt or repaired, it doesn’t cover everything.

Once again, the only place to get verified information about what your specific policy covers is — you guessed it — your specific policy paperwork, but here are some of the most common covered costs.

•   Temporary housing, such as hotels, motels, or a temporary apartment

•   Moving costs

•   Public transportation

•   Grocery and restaurant bills beyond your typical expenditure

•   Storage costs

•   Costs to board a pet

•   Laundry costs

•   Parking fees

Once again, refer to your policy documentation in order to confirm which expenses are covered under your plan.

What Else Does Your Home Insurance Cover?

Loss of use coverage is only one small part of your overall homeowner’s insurance policy, which likely has several different coverages built in. A standard homeowners insurance policy offers coverage in the following categories:

•   Dwelling coverage, which covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your house up to the given limit

•   Personal property coverage, which covers the costs of replacing your belongings in the event they are stolen, lost or damaged as part of a covered event

•   Personal liability coverage, which pays out to cover the medical or legal expenses you might incur if someone is accidentally hurt on your property (for example, if they’re bitten by your dog)

•   Additional coverages, such as coverage for additional structures on the property, specific damaging events (or “perils”) that aren’t listed in the standard policy, excess coverage for expensive belongings, etc.

As you can see, homeowners insurance is about way more than insuring the four walls of your home, though it should cover that, too. Keep in mind that each of these coverages comes with its own limits and policy conditions. (We’d remind you to read the fine print again, but at this point, you’ve probably got it. Right?)

In addition, homeowners insurance generally involves — as do most forms of insurance — paying a deductible when it comes time to file a claim. That means you’ll be responsible for a certain out-of-pocket cost to cover even coverage-eligible sustained damages, although the insurance company will likely pay out significantly more. (For example, a homeowners insurance deductible might be $1,000, which isn’t nothing… but is a lot better than paying $30,000 out of pocket to replace your entire roof. In this instance, you’d pay $1,000 while the insurer would pay $29,000.)

Deductibles are charged in addition to the premiums you pay on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis simply to keep the insurance policy active. (Typically, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium, and vice versa.) Again, it may feel like a pain to have to pay so much money simply to have insurance just in case something happens, at which point you’d have to pay out your deductible as well… but for most of us, our homes are the single largest purchase we ever make and the biggest asset to our names. It’s an investment worth protecting, especially when you consider the often astronomical cost of even basic home repairs.

The Takeaway

Loss of use insurance is a type of coverage baked into most homeowners and many renters’ insurance policies. This coverage pays out toward the extra living expenses you’ll incur if your home is rendered uninhabitable by a qualified loss, such as the cost of hotel rooms, additional food expenses, pet boarding, and public transportation.

While homeowners insurance is a valuable financial tool, it’s not the only one to keep in your tool belt. If you have family members and loved ones who rely on your income in order to maintain their lifestyle and comfort, life insurance can be a great way to ensure your death is primarily an emotional, rather than financial, loss.

SoFi has teamed up with Ladder to offer high-quality life insurance plans that are quick to set up and easy to understand, and our overall policy limits go up to $8 million. You can get a decision in minutes today, right from the comfort of your home — which, after all, already has its own insurance policy. (Right?)

Photo credit: iStock/Ridofranz

Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance. Inc. (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

If you’re like many Americans, your home is the single largest purchase you’ll ever make–and one you likely can’t afford to replace if disaster strikes.

That’s why homeowners insurance can be a wise investment. This type of insurance will compensate you if an event covered under your policy damages or destroys your home or personal items.

It will also cover you in certain instances if you injure someone else or cause property damage.

Although having homeowners insurance isn’t required by law, mortgage lenders often require you to insure your home until you’ve paid the loan in full.

Choosing the right coverage for your home–and understanding exactly what is (and what isn’t) covered–can be confusing though.

Some policies cover more than others, and how much coverage you need will depend on your circumstances, as well as your risk tolerance.

Here’s what you need to know about the options available for protecting your home.

Recommended: What’s the Difference Between Homeowners Insurance and Title Insurance?

What Does Homeowners Insurance Typically Cover?

Most standard homeowners insurance policies include six different kinds of important coverage.

•  Dwelling: This covers the physical structure of the home itself, including its foundation, walls, and roof, as well as structures attached to the home such as a front porch.
•  Other structures on your property: This covers things that aren’t attached to the main home structure, like garages and fences.
•  Personal property: This includes personal items including clothing, furniture, and everything else that you put inside your home.
•  Additional living expenses: This provides funds to pay for temporary living expenses, such as hotel costs and restaurant meals, while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
•  Liability coverage: This protects you against lawsuits and damages you or your family cause to other people or their property.
•  Medical coverage: This is offered to foot the bills incurred by somebody who is injured on your property, whether it’s your fault or theirs.

What Type of Events Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

The most common type of homeowners insurance policy on the market is called HO-3 insurance.

This insurance includes coverage of 16 specifically named perils, but it may also offer “open peril” coverage, which means that anything that damages your dwelling that is not specifically excluded in the paperwork will be covered by the policy. (This coverage generally does not extend to your personal property, however.)

The 16 named perils typically include:

•  Fire or lightning
•  Windstorms or hail
•  Explosions
•  Riots
•  Damage caused by aircraft
•  Damage caused by vehicles
•  Smoke
•  Vandalism
•  Theft
•  Volcanic eruptions
•  Falling objects
•  Damage due to the weight of ice, snow or sleet
•  Water or steam overflow from plumbing, HVAC systems, internal sprinklers and other appliances
•  Damage due the “sudden and accidental tearing apart,cracking, burning, or bulging” of an HVAC, water-heating, or fire-protective system
•  Freezing of pipes and other household appliances
•  Damage due to a power surge

What Isn’t Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance typically covers most scenarios where a loss could occur. However, some events are generally excluded from policies. These often include:

•  Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes
•  Infestations by birds, vermin, fungus or mold
•  Wear and tear or neglect
•  Nuclear hazard
•  Government action (including war)
•  Power failure

What if you live in a flood or hurricane area? Or an area with a history of earthquakes? You may want to consider a rider (which is supplementary coverage to an existing policy) for these or an extra policy for earthquake insurance or flood insurance.

Home insurance policies also typically set special limits on the amount of reimbursement you can receive in categories such as artwork, jewelry, appliances, tools, electronics, clothing, cash, and firearms.

If you own something particularly valuable, such as fine art painting or piece of expensive jewelry, you might want to purchase a rider that you will be reimbursed in full for it.

What Should I look for in a Homeowners Insurance Policy?

Homeowners insurance companies typically offer three different reimbursement models or levels of coverage.

Which one you choose can be an important decision. That’s because it will impact how you will be reimbursed in the event your home is damaged or burglarized, and also the cost of your premiums.

These are the most common homeowners policy options, listed from least to most costly.

Actual Cash Value

Actual cash value typically covers the cost of the house plus the value of your belongings after deducting depreciation (i.e., how much the items are currently worth, not how much you paid for them). If your five-year-old TV was stolen, for instance, you would not likely get reimbursed for the cost of a brand-new one.

Replacement Cost Value

Replacement value policies generally cover the actual cash value of your home and possessions without the deduction for depreciation, so you would likely be able to repair or rebuild your home and re-buy your possessions up to the original value.

Extended Replacement Cost Value

This coverage will typically pay out more than the original value of your home and belongings, up to a specified limit, if it actually costs more to fix your home and/or replace your possessions.

The limit can be a dollar amount or a percentage, such as 25% above your dwelling coverage amount. This gives you a cushion if rebuilding is more expensive than you expected.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost Value

Guaranteed Replacement Cost is the most comprehensive coverage. This inflation-buffer policy pays for whatever it costs to repair or rebuild your home and replace your possessions—even if it’s more than your policy limit.

This type of coverage can be ideal since you typically don’t need just enough insurance to cover the value of your home, you will likely need enough insurance to rebuild your home, preferably at current prices.

Understanding Homeowners Insurance Deductibles

Homeowners policies typically include an insurance deductible — the amount you’re required to cover before your insurer starts paying.

The deductible can be a flat dollar amount, such as $500 or $1,000. Or, it might be a percentage, such as 1 or 2 percent of the home’s insured value.

When you receive a claim check, an insurer typically subtracts your deductible amount from the total claim.

For instance, if you have a $1,000 deductible and your insurer approves a claim for $8,000 in repairs, the insurer would likely pay $7,000 and you would be responsible for the remaining $1,000.

Choosing a higher deductible will usually reduce your premium. However, you would likely have to shoulder more of the financial burden should you need to file a claim.

A lower deductible, on the other hand, means you might have a higher premium but your insurer would likely pick up a greater portion of the tab after an incident.

The Takeaway

Of the many types of insurance coverage out there on the market, homeowners insurance is one of the most important–it literally protects the roof over your head, which very well might also be your most valuable asset.

Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home and its contents. It also typically reimburses you for losses due to theft and pays out if visitors to your property are injured.

Your policy may also pay for living expenses, such as a hotel stay, if your home becomes uninhabitable.

In some cases, you can get additional policies or riders for events not covered by your regular home insurance, such as flooding, as well as extra coverage for any highly valuable possessions.

Because choosing the right homeowners insurance company and right amount of coverage can be overwhelming, SoFi has partnered with Lemonade to help bring customizable and affordable homeowners insurance to our members.

Prices start as low as $25 per month, and Lemonade gives back leftover money to charities of your choice.

Check out homeowners insurance options offered through SoFi Protect.

SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach the following Insurance Agents:
Home & Renters: Lemonade Insurance Agency (LIA) is acting as the agent of Lemonade Insurance Company in selling this insurance policy, in which it receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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