When we bought our house last year we considered finishing the attic. The builder estimated it would cost around $37K. My reaction was a strong nope. I bid the job with two other contractors and each one came in around $30K. Still too high. We decided to shelf the idea. Then 2020 went off the rails with the pandemic and quarantine and working from home — and everything single thing from home. So we decided to finish the attic to create more space.
At first we thought we could do all of the work ourselves, but after watching one video on framing, we realized it would never happen. Since I’ve been an advertising project manager for a minute, I figured I could apply the same skill set to the managing the attic remodel.
I dig a ton of research and put together a list of steps and estimated costs and of course a schedule. This challenge was refreshing and fun. Below are before and after photos. Also, I wanted to share the process for anyone out there considering doing some contract work.
Phases of the Project
- Sketch: Measure everything (twice) and figure out what you want to do with your space, then do a rough sketch of the layout.
- Estimate: Nail down your budget before you start anything. Base your rough line item costs from your research (see below for some estimate ranges).
- Permit: Call your town’s city hall and talk to someone in the inspections department. Let them know this is your first time contracting and you have no clue what you’re doing. If they’re anything like the folks in Fuquay Varina, they’ll walk you through what you need to do to get a permit.
- Application Forms
- Drawing (I did mine in excel)
- Cost: $490
- Sub-contractors: Find a general contractor who is willing to share a list of sub-contractors he or she typically works with and get a couple of recommendations for backups. Call each one and ask if they’re available to come out and give you an estimate for the work. Get both a cost and time estimate.
- Framing [$2500 – $4000] 2 – 3 days
- Stairs [$1700 – $2000] 1 day
- Access door [$200 – $500] 1 day
- Electrician [$2000 – $5000] 1 day rough-in, 1 day finish
- Insulation [$2700 – $3500] 1 day pre-insulation, 1 day insulation
- Drywall [$4700 – $5800] 5 steps: hang, tape, mud, prime, coat, sand — can take up to two weeks
- Trim [$700 – $1000] 1 day
- Paint [$2000 – $2500] 2 – 3 days
- HVAC [$3500 – $5000] 1 – 2 days
- Flooring – [$2300 – $7000] 1 day (we went with carpet since it’s the 2nd floor)
- Start scheduling the work. The key here is flexibility. But you’ll also need to be on top of everything and very clear in your communication. I shared my schedule and timing with all of my sub-contractors and let them know when the dates change. I revised my schedule about six times. No surprise there. The biggest part of being a project manager is managing the ever-changing schedule.
- Inspections: Find out which stages the inspector will need to come out. You might have to make adjustments after each inspection, so leave room in the schedule.
Overall, our remodel of the 700-square-toot space took 7 weeks and came in under budget by $3K. My mom and I decorated the space at a fairly reasonable cost since we’re all about designing on a budget!
Before and After Photos
Seating, Entertainment and Extra Guest Space
My Second Office
I hope you enjoyed this post and found the information useful. I highly recommend finding a fun project to focus on during these insane times. Now that this project is complete, hopefully I’ll get back to writing my next book.