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Advice on Finishing Our 1940s Cape Cod Attic

Mandy C-G.
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago


My husband and I bought our first home and this summer we are hoping to tackle some big projects like updating our kitchen and doing some outside landscaping/curb appeal projects.

When we bought this house, we absolutely loved the potential of the attic but now the thought of refinishing it seems overwhelming and expensive (definitely naive first time home buyers!). We are semi handy and not scared to get our hands dirty so we are wondering if finishing this attic could be a manageable project for us without breaking the bank.

Some logistics for you, we don't think we will be putting a bathroom up there (this is a starter home for us and we will be moving in approximately four years). Secondly, we would like to get by with just an AC unit and portable heaters - though I am open to suggestions. I just don't think we would have the money to have air and heating routed up to the attic. Additionally, we would keep it as one large room (we aren't skilled enough to where we could build walls or anything - I don't think) and probably keep the triangle formation (this is something I am debating on, more on this later).

(Apologies on the bad lighting in these pictures - but hopefully you get the idea).

There are already two electrical outlets up there but will I still need to consult with an electrician? I have also read that we need to hire someone that can tell us if the house is structurally sound for an attic renovation.

From my simplified understanding, it seems that I need to insulate the walls, cover them with drywall and then finish the flooring (Can I just paint it white or do I need to put something over top of it? We were thinking of putting down carpet, but open to suggestions!). What other major things am I overlooking? Has anyone else renovated a similar space that can give me some insight? What cost should I estimate if I am wanting to do basically the bare minimum to just turn this attic into a usable space?

One other problem that I am having is that a lot of finished attics have the knee or waste high walls built along the sides - this seems like a task that would be over our head most likely. Is it a necessary thing? What are you thoughts on this?

I know this post is all over the place but I have been doing some investigating and am curious what this community has to say.

Thanks so much in advance for any advice you are able to give us!

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